How to Find Old Websites and Search Cached Pages in Google

Google Cache Setting
Screenshot

Did you find the perfect search result only to realize that the website is down? Did the information recently change? Fear not: You can use this Google power search trick to find a cached image of the page and still find the precise information you need. 

As Google indexes web pages, it retains snapshot of the page contents, known as a cached page. URLs are updated periodically with new cached images.

To access them:

  1. In the search results, click on the triangle next to the URL of your desired search term.
  2. Select Cached. (Your choices should be Cached and Similar.)

Clicking on the Cached link often will show you the page as it was last indexed on Google, but with your search keywords highlighted. This method is extremely useful if you want to find a particular piece of information without having to scan the entire page. If your search term isn't highlighted, just use Control+F or Command+F and type in your search phrase. 

Limitations of Caches

Keep in mind that this shows the last time the page was indexed, so sometimes images won't display, and the information will be out of date. For most quick searches, that doesn't matter. You can always go back to the current version of the page and check to see if the information has changed. Some pages also instruct Google to make historical pages unavailable through use of a protocol called "robots.txt."

Website designers also can elect to keep pages private from Google searches by removing them from the site index (also known as "noindexing" them). Once that is done, the cached pages usually are still available in the Wayback machine, although they may not show up in Google. 

Google Syntax to View the Cache

You can cut to the chase and go directly to the cached page using the Cache: syntax.

Searching for AdSense information on this site would look something like this:

cache:google.about.com adsense

This language is case sensitive, so make sure cache is lower case, with no space between cache and the URL. You do need a space between the URL and your search phrase, but the HTTP:// portion is not necessary.

The Internet Archive

If you're interested in the oldest archived pages, you can also go to the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. It's not maintained by Google, but the Wayback Machine has indexed sites as far back as 1999.

The Google Time Machine

As part of its 10th birthday celebration, Google introduced the oldest index still available. The old search engine was brought back only for this occasion, and the feature is now gone.

Was this page helpful?