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Top Google Search Tricks

Friday, August 7, 2009

When it comes to the Google search box, you already know some tricks: finding exact phrases matches using quotes or searching a single site using site:example.com gmail. But there are many more oblique, clever, and lesser-known search recipes and operators that work from that unassuming little input box. Dozens of Google search guides detail the tips you already know, but today i will present my favorite obscure Google web search tricks.

1. Explicit Phrase:

Lets say you are looking for content about internet marketing. Instead of just typing internet marketing into the Google search box, you will likely be better off searching explicitly for the phrase. To do this, simply enclose the search phrase within double quotes.

Example: "internet marketing"


2. Exclude Words:

Lets say you want to search for content about internet marketing, but you want to exclude any results that contain the term advertising. To do this, simply use the "-" sign in front of the word you want to exclude.

Example Search: internet marketing -advertising


3. Site Specific Search:

Often, you want to search a specific website for content that matches a certain phrase. Even if the site doesn’t support a built-in search feature, you can use Google to search the site for your term. Simply use the "site:somesite.com" modifier.

Example: "internet marketing" site:wikipedia.org


4. Similar Words and Synonyms:

Let’s say you are want to include a word in your search, but want to include results that contain similar words or synonyms. To do this, use the "~" in front of the word.

Example: castle ~glossary


5. Specific Document Types:

If you’re looking to find results that are of a specific type, you can use the modifier "filetype:". For example, you might want to find only PowerPoint presentations related to internet marketing.

Example: "internet marketing" filetype:ppt


6. This OR That:

By default, when you do a search, Google will include all the terms specified in the search. If you are looking for any one of one or more terms to match, then you can use the OR operator. (Note: The OR has to be capitalized).

Example: internet marketing OR advertising


7. Phone Listing:

Let’s say someone calls you on your mobile number and you don’t know how it is. If all you have is a phone number, you can look it up on Google using the phonebook feature.

Example: phonebook:617-555-1212
Note: You’ll have to use a real number to get any results


8. Numeric Ranges:

This is a rarely used, but highly useful tip. Let’s say you want to find results that contain any of a range of numbers. You can do this by using the X..Y modifier (in case this is hard to read, what’s between the X and Y are two periods. This type of search is useful for years (as shown below), prices or anywhere where you want to provide a series of numbers.

Example: president 1940..1950


9. Calculator:

The next time you need to do a quick calculation, instead of bringing up the Calculator applet, you can just type your expression in to Google.

Example: 48512 * 1.02


10. Word Definitions:

If you need to quickly look up the definition of a word or phrase, simply use the "define:" command.

Example: define:plethora


11. Get the local time anywhere

What time is it in Bangkok right now? Ask Google. Enter simply time and the place to get the local time in big cities around the world.

Example: time hong kong


12. Track flight status

Enter the airline and flight number into the Google search box. Notice that Google now tells you if your flight is on time or delayed, as well as the estimated departure and arrival times.

Example: BA 0011 (It must exist)


13. Convert currency, metrics, bytes, and more

Google's powerful built-in converter calculator can help you out whether you're cooking dinner, traveling abroad, or building a PC. Find out how many teaspoons are in a quarter cup (quarter cup in teaspoons) or how many seconds there are in a year (seconds in a year) or how many euros there are to five dollars (5 USD in Euro). For the geekier set, bits in kilobytes (155473 bytes in kilobytes) and numbers in hex or binary (19 in binary) are also pretty useful.


14. Compare and find similar items

Simply search for, in quotes: "better than _keyword_"

The results will almost always lead you to discovering alternatives to whatever it is you're searching for. Using the same concept, you can use this trick to discover new music or movies. For example, " reminds me of _someband_" or "sounds like _someband_" will pull up artists people have thought sounded similar to the one you typed in. This is also a great way to find good, no-name musicians you'd probably never know of otherwise.

Examples:
Results 1 - 100 of about 550 English pages for " better than WinAmp".
Results 1 - 57 of 57 English pages for " better than mIRC".
Results 1 - 88 of 88 English pages for " reminds me of Metallica".
Results 1 - 36 of 36 English pages for " similar to Garden State".
Results 1 - 66 of 66 English pages for " sounds like The Shins".

Just get creative and you'll, without a doubt, find cool new stuff you probably never knew existed.


15. Use Google as a free proxy

What, your company blocks that hip new web site just because it drops the F bomb occasionally? Use Google's cache to take a peek even when the originating site's being blocked, with cache:example.com.

Example: cache:google.com


16. Remove affiliate links from product searches

When you're sick of seeing duplicate product search results from the likes of eBay, Bizrate, Pricerunner, and Shopping.com, clear 'em out by stacking up the -site:ebay.com -site:bizrate.com -site:shopping.com operator. Alternately, check out Give Me Back My Google, a service that does all that known reseller cleaning up for you when you search for products.

Example: Compare this GMBMG search for a Cruzer 1GB flash drive to the regular Google results.


17. Find related terms and documents

Ok, this one's direct from any straight-up advanced search operator cheat sheet, but it's still one of the lesser-used tricks in the book. Adding a tilde (~) to a search term will return related terms. For example, Googling ~nutrition returns results with the words nutrition, food, and health in them.


18. Find music and comic books

Using a combination of advanced search operators that specify music files available in an Apache directory listing, you can turn Google into your personal Napster. The same type of search recipe can find other types of content as well.

Examples:
-inurl:(htm|html|php) intitle:"index of" +"last modified" +"parent directory" +description +size +(wma|mp3) "Beatles"
-inurl:htm -inurl:html intitle:"index of" "Last modified" spider-man cbr
-inurl:htm -inurl:html intitle:"index of" "Last modified" simpsons cbr


19. ID people, objects, and foreign language words and phrases with Google Image Search

Google Image search results show you instead of tell you about a word. Don't know what beans looks like? Not sure if the person named "Priti" who you're emailing with is a woman or a man? Spanish rusty and you forgot what "corazon" is? Pop your term into Google Image Search (or type image beans into the regular search box) to see what your term's about.


20. Find live webcams with Google

The trick to find and search for open unprotected Internet webcams that broadcast to the web, is by using the following query: intitle:”Live View / – AXIS” | inurl:view/view.shtml^


21. Make Google recognize faces

If you're doing an image search for Paris Hilton and you don't want any of the French city, a special URL parameter in Google's Image search will do the trick. Add &imgtype=face to the end of your image search to just get images of faces, without any inanimate objects. Try it out with a search for rose (which returns many photos of flowers) versus rose with the face parameter.


Sources:

1. Top 10 Obscure Google Search Tricks
2. 12 Quick Tips To Search Google Like An Expert


What's your favorite ninja Google search technique?

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