Twelve Easy Google Search Hacks

Search more efficiently with these Google search tips

Key Word Search
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Whether you use Google Search for business, research, school, entertainment, or some other reason, you can benefit from knowing a few tips that maximize your search efficiency. Google Search is home to 3.5 billion searches a day. Keep your search results on target with these Google hacks everyone should know. 

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Internet Market Considers MIcrosoft Bid for Yahoo
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When you are looking for an exact phrase in Google search, put it in quotes in the search field to limit the results. For example:

"the ides of march"

You can combine the use of quotation marks with many other search tricks, such as the Boolean feature OR:

"a wrinkle in time" OR "a wind in the door"

Information from smart phone
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Use the Google shortcut info:your_url to find quick information about a specific website. Do not put a space between info: and the URL, but you can omit the http:// part of the address. For example:

info.www.google.com

Not all web pages are configured to return results.

George Boole
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Two basic Boolean search commands supported in Google are AND and OR. Use AND to search for all the search terms. For example "summer AND winter" searches for documents containing both "summer" and "winter," while using OR searches for one term or the other, "summer" or "winter." 

AND

Google defaults to AND searches automatically, so you don't need to type "AND" into the search engine to get that result.

OR

If you want to find one keyword or another, use the term OR. It's important that you use all caps, or Google will ignore your request.

To find all documents containing either sausages or biscuits, type:

sausages OR biscuits

You can also substitute the "pipe" character for OR and enter

sausages | biscuits

in the search field.

Money mix of foreign currency notes
Alex Segre / Getty Images

To convert currency in Google search, search using the format "starting currency in desired currency." For example, to find out how much the Canadian dollar is worth in U.S. dollars today, in the Google search field, type:

canadian dollar in us dollar

The calculator graphic appears at the top of the results screen along with the answer in large type. Currency conversion is part of Google's hidden calculator, which can convert all sorts of things to other things, including units of measure such as gallons into liters and miles per gallon into kilometers per liter.

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Dictionary
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If you want to find a word's definition quickly, type define: followed by the word. For example:

define: loquacious

This triggers one of Google's hidden search engines, which will find the definition by comparing several online dictionaries. You'll see the definition and a link to the original information source in case you want to search further. 

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Synonym Searches

Creativitiy as Found in the Dictionary
Corbis via Getty Images / Getty Images

Can't think of a word? Use Google to search for both your search terms and synonyms. A synonym is a word or phrase that means the same thing or close to the same thing. 

When you put a tilde ~ in front of your search term, Google looks for both your chosen search term and synonyms for that term.

~dancing 

Mathematical Equation
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Sometimes you may want to narrow your Google search by finding things in a specified number range, such as fashion icons from the 1920s to the 1960s, cars that get 30 to 50 miles per gallon, or computers priced from $500 to $800. Google lets you do just that with Numrange searches.

You can perform a Numrange search on any sequential set of numbers by typing two periods between the numbers without any spaces. For example, you could search by typing these keyphrases in the Google search field: 

fashion icons 1920..1960

cars 30..50 mpg

computer $500..$800

Whenever possible, give Google some context for your numbers. Are they miles per gallon, stitches per minute, pounds, or cases? With the exception of dollar signs, you should put a space between your numbers and the keyword that gives those numbers context, just like the car search example.

You'll probably also be more successful if you use an industry standard abbreviation, such as "mpg" rather than spelling out "miles per gallon." When in doubt, you could search for both terms at once by using a Boolean OR search. That would make the car search: 

cars 30..50 mpg OR cars 30...50 miles per gallon

Multicolored shapes connecting men with targets on opposite ends of arrows pointing in different direction
Yenpitsu Nemoto / Getty Images

Google can let you restrict your searches to file types. This can be helpful when you're looking specifically for file types, such as PowerPoint (ppt). Word (doc) or Adobe PDF files.

To restrict your search to a specific file type, use the filetype: command. For example, try searching for:

bad hotel filetype:ppt

 To search for a forgotten widget report, try:

widget report filetype.doc

If you are searching for videos, use Google Video search instead. 

Twins sitting on sofa, smiling
Newton Daly / Getty Images

Use the minus sign to exclude words from your search. Combine it with quotes to make it even more powerful. 

"pot bellied" -pig

Put a space before the minus sign but do not put a space between the minus sign and the word or phrase you want to be excluded.

Use the same trick with a plus sign to automatically include a word in your results. 

"pot bellied" +pig

Definition of Allintitle
Learn the definition of the allintitle tag and how you use it. Word illustration by Marziah Karch

Sometimes you may want to find webpages where one or more words appear in the title of the page rather than just the body. Use intitle:

Do not put a space between the colon and the word you want to appear in the title.

intitle:feeding iguana 

This will find webpages that are relevant to the keyphrase "feeding iguana," and it will only list results that have the word "feeding" in the title. You can also force both words to appear in the title:

intitle:feeding intitle:iguana

You can also use the syntax allintitle: which only list results where all the words in the keyphrase are in the title.

allintitle:iguana feeding

3D Rendering, Robot and laptop, stock exchange trading
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You can use Google's site: syntax to restrict your search to find only results within a single website. Make sure there's no space between site: and your desired website.

Follow your website with a space and then the desired search phrase. 

You don't need to use the http:// or https:// portion of the URL.

site:bread4U.com bread pudding recipes 

 The second half is the search phrase. It is usually better to use more than one word in your search to narrow down the search results. 

This same search can be widened to include all the websites within a top-level domain.  

Google used to have a verticle search engine called "Uncle Sam" that only searched within government websites. It has been discontinued, but using this trick gets pretty close to the same results. For example:

site:gov geographic survey Idaho

or try only schools and universities:

site:edu textbook

or only specific countries:

site:uk search terms

Cached image using Google search syntax
View a cached images. Screen capture

If a website has recently changed or is not currently responding, you can search for a term in the last cached page stored in Google by using the Cache: syntax. 

cache:google.bread4U.com bread pudding recipes

This language is case sensitive, so make sure "cache:" is lower case. You also need to make sure there is no space between cache: and your URL. You do need a space between your URL and your search phrase. It's not necessary to put the "http://" part in the URL.

Note: Use Command F on a Mac or Control F on a PC to highlight keywords or jump to the desired term on a website.