Five Search Engine Shortcuts You Might Not Know About

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5 Little Known Search Engine Shortcuts You Can Use Right Now

Nick David/Getty Images

We're all familiar with the standard search features of search engines - we can look up images, answer questions, and get information on nearly anything we can think of. But did you know that search engines can also be used to track packages, find out if your plane is on time, or bring your own personalized news station right to your online doorstep? That's right - and there's even more that your favorite search engine can accomplish, as we'll find out in this article on the five search engine shortcuts you might know about (yet!). 

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Use a search engine to find movie times

movie theater

 You can use Google, Yahoo, and Bing to find a movie or movie theater with showtimes near you. Here's what you do:

Google: All you need to do to find movie reviews, movie showtimes, or movie theaters in Google is simply type "movies" into Google's search box. You can also search for the name of the movie. In addition, if you can't think of the name of the movie but know a detail, ask Google to find the name of the movie for you: "movie: golden ticket".

Yahoo: You can use Yahoo to find a movie trailer by simply entering in the name of any movie you'd like to see followed by word "trailer" or "trailers". For example: "Harry Potter Trailer". After you've seen the movie trailer, find out where that movie is showing near you by entering in the title of the movie and your location (you can use major city, zip, or city+state).

Bing: Bing makes it easy to movie search. Just type in the search term "movie" and you'll be able to find movie titles, movie reviews, and movie showtimes. You can also search by specific movie titles, or if you want to see what time a movie is showing in your time, enter in the name of the movie along with your zip code.

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Track a package online

track a package

 You can use the Web for tracking any kind of package. In Google, parcel tracking IDs, patents and other specialized numbers can be entered into Google's search box for quick access to information about them. For example, typing a FedEx tracking number will return the latest information on your package. 

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Find out information about your flight

track your flight online

There's an easy way to find flight information online in Google: simply type in the airport's three letter code followed by the word "airport" (find out your airport's three letter code using Mapping.com). For instance:

pdx airport

You'll see a blurb that says "View conditions at Portland International (PDX), Portland, Oregon"; click on it and you'll get airport status information, such as weather conditions, general flight delays, etc.

You can also check the status of a specific flight. Just type the name of the airline into Google's search box followed by the flight number. For example:

american 123

Once you enter in this query, Google will bring back flight information ("Track status of American Airlines flight 123 on Travelocity - Expedia - fboweb.com").

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Locate lost instructions or a user's manual

instruction manual

 All of us at one time or another have misplaced a user's manual to something we've bought. However, chances are you can find that manual on the Web. Here's a few different ways you can track down pretty much any user's manual:

Use Google. Simply enter in the name of your product plus the word "instructions" or "manual" or "user's manual", i.e., "Dyson user's manual." You can narrow your search even further by adding a specific file type to your search: dyson users manual filetype:pdf.

If that doesn't work, here are a few more sites to help you out: UsersManualGuideFixyaeServiceInfoFree Camera Manuals, or Retrevo.

And if these methods don't work, you might want to try searching eBay for your missing manual - many people have had very good luck there. 

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Create your own personalized news feed

news

If you are at work all day without access to breaking news stories, or just out and about and want to catch the news as it happens, then breaking news alerts are for you. Most popular online news sources offer these email alerts as a free service when you register at their sites.

Not only can you sign up for breaking news alerts, but you also have available to you comprehensive newsletters that you can customize to have only the news that interests you. NOTE: Be careful when you give out your personal information; you shouldn't be asked to give anything more than your name or email address.

Sites That Offer Breaking News Alerts

  • Yahoo News Alerts. Concise and easy to use.
  • Google News Alerts. Get news from over 5000 sources on the topics you pick.
  • CNN News Alerts. You have to register, but it's quick.
  • Fox News Alerts. Fast process, easily customized.
  • BBC News Alerts. Requires downloadable software (for Windows users only) that will install an alert box on your PC every time a story breaks.
  • CBS News Alerts. Get not only news, but content from 60 Minutes, The Early Show, and 48 Hours Investigates.
  • ABCNews.com. Sign up is quick, allows you to customize.
  • EurekAlert - Science News: Sign up for all kinds of great science and technology breaking news alerts.

In addition, if you want breaking news alerts from your local newspaper or television station website, you can usually find them by entering in the name to a search engine of the newspaper or the TV station call letter followed by the phrase "breaking news alerts".