How to Use Advanced Google Search Commands

Narrow your searches, dig deeper, and retrieve accurate information

Magnifying Glass above Google
  Rafie Geam / EyeEm/Getty Images

If you've ever performed a Google search and wondered why the returned results were different than what you were expecting, you're not alone. Even though search technology has advanced immeasurably over the last several years, search engines are still somewhat limited in what they are able to do, and they certainly haven't evolved to read the average web user's mind. Learning about the basic and advanced Google search commands can help you find exactly what you're looking for when you need it.

Basic Google Search Rules

Google is smart enough to determine whether you're looking for a list of websites, or if you just want a quick answer to a question. For example, if you enter a simple math problem into Google, Google returns the solution in a calculator app above the search results. Use the chart below as your guide to get the most out of Google.

Note: Google searches ignore punctuation that isn’t part of a search operator.

Google Shortcut Returns...
nokia phone Pages with the words nokia and phone
sailing or boating Pages with either sailing or boating
"love me tender" Pages with the exact phrase love me tender
printer -cartridge Pages with printer but not cartridge
Toy Story +2 Pages with Toy Story including the number 2
~auto Synonyms for auto
define:serendipity Definitions for serendipity
how now * cow Pages with the words how now cow separated by one or more words
978+456 1434
978-456 522
978*456 445968
978/456 2.14473684211
50% of 100 50
4^18 68719476736
45 Celsius in Fahrenheit 113
site:lifewire.com "torrent sites" Pages with the phrase torrent sites on lifewire.com
link:lifewire.com Pages linked to lifewire.com
nokia phone $200...$300 Pages with nokia phone and a price within the range of $200-$300
inanchor:puppies Pages with inbound links that include puppies in the anchor text
safesearch:breast cancer Pages with breast and cancer excluding those with adult content
info:lifewire.com Homepage for lifewire.com
related:lifewire.com Pages related to lifewire.com
cache:lifewire.com The latest cached version of lifewire.com
zoology filetype:ppt PowerPoint files including the word zoology
allintitle:nike running Pages with nike and running in the title
inurl:chewbacca Pages with chewbacca in the URL
athletics:.edu Pages with .edu addresses including the word athletics
map:portland me Portland, Maine on Google Maps
intext:parlor Pages with parlor in the body text
allintext:north pole Pages with north and pole in the body text
book:The Lord of the Rings Pages that reference the book The Lord of the Rings
phonebook:Google CA All phone number listings for Google in California
bphonebook:Intel OR Business numbers for Intel in Oregon
rphonebook:Joe Smith Seattle WA Residential phone numbers for Joe Smith in Seattle, Washington
movie:wallace and gromit 97110 Showtimes for movie in zip code 97110
stocks:wrld Stocks for World Acceptance Corp.
weather:97132

Weather forecasts for zip code 97132

Tip: To search social media via Google, put @ in front of a word. For example: @twitter.

Google Searches on PC vs. Mac

For the most part, Google works the same on every OS and every browser, but some of the shortcuts may work differently depending on your device. The major difference between Google shortcuts on a Mac and a PC is that PC commands require the use of the Ctrl key while Mac commands require you to use the Command key instead.

Advanced Google Shortcuts

The following shortcuts are for PC users, but Mac users can simply replace the Ctrl key with the Command key to achieve the same result.

Open a new tab: Hold Ctrl and press T.

Close the current tab: Hold Ctrl and press W.

Reopen the last tab closed: Hold Ctrl and Shift, then press T.

Jump to a specific tab: Hold Ctrl and select the appropriate number.

Open a hyperlink in a new tab: Hold Ctrl and click the link.

Open a link in a new window: Hold Shift and click the link.

Put a cursor in the search bar: Hold Ctrl and press L.

Erase the current search: Hold Ctrl and press Delete.

Go forward to the next page: Hold Shift and press Delete.

Reload the current page: Hold Ctrl and press R.

Open the find bar: Hold Ctrl and press F.

Scroll to the next keywords in find bar: Press Enter.

Scroll to previous keywords in the find bar: Hold Shift and press Enter.

Save the current page as a bookmark: Hold Ctrl and press D.

Open the settings page: Hold Ctrl and press the comma (,) key.

Open the downloads page: Hold Ctrl and Shift, then press J.

Open a new window: Hold Ctrl and press N.

Drag a tab out of your window: Click the tab and drag it downward.

Close the current window: Hold Ctrl and Shift, then press W.

Minimize the current window: Hold Ctrl and press M.

Scroll down the web page: Tap the Space Bar.

Quit Google Chrome: Hold Ctrl and press Q.

Jump to the last tab: Hold Ctrl and press the number nine (9).

Hide Google Chrome: Hold Ctrl and press H.

Refining Your Google Web Searches

Once you have all of the above search commands mastered, you should see a marked increase in the quality of your search results. Of course, it's always smart to experiment a little with how you frame your Google search query. If at first, you don't succeed, try again using a different search string.

Tip: Avoid putting spaces between the symbols and words in your search term. For example, a search for site:lifewire.com will yield different results than site: lifewire.com.