How to Create a Google Alert

Google Alert
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If you have a specialized topic you like or if there something or someone in the news you want to keep up to date on, you could enter the same search term into Google several times or day or – more efficiently – you can set up a Google Alert to notify you by email whenever something new on your topic appears in search results. 

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Why You Need a Google Alert

Google Alert
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Explore the process in an example by setting up a Google Alert for mentions of gnomes. 

To get started, go to www.google.com/alerts. If you aren't already signed in to Google, sign in to your account now.

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Set Up a Google Alert Search Term

Google Alert Gnomes
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Pick a search phrase that is fairly specific and specialized. If your term is general and popular, like "money" or "elections," you end up with way too many results.

You're allowed to enter more than one word in the search field at the top of the screen, so try to narrow it down a little. Keep in mind that Google Alerts sends you newly indexed results, not every result available on the web. Sometimes one word may be all you need.

In this case, the one word "gnomes" is a sufficiently obscure term that there are probably not many new pages being indexed on a daily basis on that topic. Type "gnomes" in the search field and see the short list of current search results. Click the Create Alert button to set up an email alert for newly indexed search results that contain the term "gnomes" whenever they occur.

This is good enough for most alerts and you don't need to make any adjustments, but if you are curious or like to drill down in your search results, you can modify your alert by clicking on Show options, which is located next to the Create Alert button.

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Adjust Alert Options

Show Options
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From the options screen that pops up when you click Show options, choose how often you want to receive alerts. The default is At most once a day, but you may prefer to restrict this to At most once a week. If you pick an obscure term or an item you are following closely, select As-it-happens.

Leave the Sources field set to Automatic unless you want to pick one of the specific categories. You can specify news, blogs, videos, books, finance and other options.

The default Language field is set to English, but you can change it.

The Region field contains an extensive list of countries; the default Any Region or perhaps United States are likely the best choices here.

Choose how you want to receive your Google Alerts. The default is the email address for your Google account. You can choose to receive Google Alerts as RSS feeds. You used to be able to read those feeds in Google Reader, but Google sent Google Reader to the Google Graveyard. Try an alternative like Feedly

Now choose whether you want All results or Only the best quality. If you choose to receive all the alerts, you'll get a lot of duplicate content. 

The default settings are usually good enough, so you can finish by selecting the CREATE ALERT button. 

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Manage Your Google Alerts

Google Alerts
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That's it. You've created a Google Alert. You can manage this and any other Google Alerts you create by returning to www.google.com/alerts.

View your current alerts in the My alerts section near the top of the screen. Click the cog icon to either specify a delivery time for your alerts or to request receipt of all your alerts in a single email.

Click the pencil icon next to any alert you want to edit to bring up the Options screen, where you can make changes to your options. Click the trash can next to an alert to delete it.