WHEN MOST OF us use Google or any other search engine, we tend to just type in questions or specific words and hope we get the right results.
If you’re doing this, you’re only scratching the surface of what Google can find you.
By adding in one or two additional terms, you can get more accurate results and find the pages you’re looking for.
Find exact phrases
If you’re looking for an exact phrase, placing quotation marks around the words will present results with that exact quote (e.g.: “to be or not to be”).
Search within a site
Because not all sites have a search engine as good as Google, typing in “site:” and the main URL will allow you to (e.g.: site:thejournal.ie Google).
Search for specific files
If you’re looking for reports or documents that were made public, writing “filetype” into the search bar will help you find specific files online. Handy if you’re looking for reports or research papers. The main type of files found through search are ppt (Powerpoint), pdf (Portable document) and doc (MS Word).
Ignore words in search
If you’re want to ignore a specific word in your search, adding a minus figure before a word will exclude it in your search. Useful if two or more things share the same name.
Find similar pages
The “related:” tag will show you sites that are similar to the URL you entered. Useful if you need to reference or find sites that follow a certain theme.
Get definitions of words
If you ever come across a word or term you don’t understand, there’s a good chance Google will know what it’s about. Typing in “define:” will provide a definition of that word as well as sentence use and synonyms.
Search country info
You can find out a lot about a country or area just through search. Public data means you can find out the time difference, the weather and the population of a country, city or area just by typing in the relevant terms.
Should you need to do some improv calculating, Google can be turned into a scientific calculator for you to use. Just in case using your phone, computer or even a traditional calculator is too much effort.
Alternatively, you can enter a sum or equation in the search bar itself, but that’s not as fun.
Convert currency & other metrics
Another very useful function of Google search, you can convert different metrics through the search engine itself. The most useful one is its currency converter, which activates when you type in the currencies you want converted (e.g.: dollar to euro).
Alongside this, you can convert other metrics such as length (miles to km), mass, speed, time, volume, digital storage and weight
Find old pages
If you’re searching for a specific page, but it’s been updated or removed, you can recover it pretty easily. For each search result, there’s a downward facing arrow located at the end of the URL. Clicking on it allows you to view a cached version of that page, as well as searching for similar pages to it.
Alternatively, you can search using “cache:” and place the URL after it.
Typing your query into the search bar isn’t the end of your search. You’re also provided with a number of options to help refine your search further.
Search tool provides four main options, location (eg.: search specifically for Irish sites), time frame (e.g.: news articles written in the past 24 hours), sorting (sort by relevance or date) and reading level (handy for finding sites that explain things simply).
If you’ve searched for something before, but can’t remember the term or find it in your browser history, you can go back to your web history. The URL is google.com/history and alongside your search history, it will provide you with your hourly and daily search activity as well as your history across all Google products.
It’s not a search tip per se, but you couldn’t cover Google’s search engine without mentioning the numerous Easter eggs it has. There are far too many of them to mention in the one, but here are a few choice examples.
- Typing in “atari breakout” into image search will turn your results into a game of Breakout.
- “Conway’s game of life” will play Conway’s simulator in the background.
- “Zerg rush” will place you in a game where you must shoot the Os before they destroy all your search results.
- Entering “kerning” will create larger spaces in-between words. “Kerming” will do the opposite.
- ”Binary” will provide you with about 0b10011010011111101100100000 results.
- “Tilt” will put your search results slightly off balance.
- Typing in “do a barrel roll” will… well, you’ll see.