Google is ubiquitous with finding what you need—sometimes without even realizing you were looking for it. In recent years, the company has started to connect more and more of the everyman’s life with neat tricks, like showing you where you parked by tracking your GPS location and travel speed behind the scenes, or indexing your Gmail to keep track of Amazon deliveries and airline boarding passes.
I’ve personally met tons of people that only use mobile devices, like phones and tablets, for all their computing needs, and they aren’t always as functional when searching for information—or just functional in general. I sent my friend a link to download something from a server I run at home the other day and she sent me a text saying it’s funny how I think she has a “lap. top.” You know who you are.
I, myself, still rely heavily on finding information via an actual computer. A desktop at the office, a desktop at the house, a lap. top. for travel. Running an IT company, there’s always something to learn. Being the IT guy of the family, there’s always something to help someone find. For instance, my father bought a classic car on the Internet before doing any research on the seller—I was astonished, but he informed me he just didn’t know where to start. I did some research before money changed hands and everything turned out great, but it’s a big risk, especially when so much data is available out there.
Today we’re going to go over some advanced Google tricks to help you find all kinds of information more quickly and more thoroughly than you would have previously thought possible. It will help you better find what you’re looking for, reduce the amount of time you spend looking for information, and generally impress people when you can pull up specific info faster than they can.
First, and probably the most well know, is using quotation marks
Using quotation marks around your search term will search for the exact phrase instead of weighing specific words as more important.
Searching for the term [ the earth in relation to the sun ] will show you lots of information from various sources
Searching for the term [ “the earth in relation to the sun” ] will show you only pages with that exact phrase listed
Exclude a word using a hyphen
Using a dash in front of a word will exclude it from your search results.
Searching for [ David Bowie ] pulls up some great info on David Bowie, naturally
Searching for [ David -Bowie ] brings up the history of King David, the meaning of the name David, so on and so forth because we’ve removed Bowie from our search. Now we’re just searching for “David” which is an awesome name, by the way.
Searching within a specific site
Using the modifier site: will show only results within a specific website or domain.
Example of site:
Searching for [ the new iPhone ] will bring up results from all over the web about whatever new iPhone is coming out
Searching for [ the new iPhone site:reddit.com ] will only bring up posts on www.reddit.com where people are talking about the new iPhone
Searching for pages with words in the text
This fun trick allows you to ensure all your words are included in a page, which is helpful for finding specific pages when Google tends to drop words it thinks are less important. You can also find pages where your search terms show up in combination to others.
Example of allintext:
Searching for [ allintext:awesome holiday recipes ] will display pages where someone has written just how awesome their holiday recipes within the text of the document.
Example of intext:
Searching for [ bike race intext:richmond ] will show you results where people talk about bike races in the text and Richmond shows up in someplace else in the document (the title, URL, headlines, or image captions).
Searching for specific words in the title
Similarly to allintext, you can search for pages where the title matches your search terms by using allintitle:
Example of allintitle:
Searching for [ allintitle: Star Wars a New Hope Review ] will bring up pages that are titled as a review of the first Star Wars movie.
Example of intitle:
Searching for [ Star Wars a New Hope intitle:Review ] will bring up pages that have the word Review in the title and include Star Wars somewhere else on the same page, whether it’s a review of Star Wars or not.
Search for specific words in the URL of a page
Sometimes, the title of a page doesn’t always match the URL. You can isolate pages with words in a specific search term in the URL with allinurl:
Example of allinurl:
Searching for [ allinurl:Life on mars ] will bring up pages with the song title “Life on Mars” in the actual address of the page—which will probably only be lyrics websites and NASA pages.
Find information from a particular location
Worried about a regional Chipotle e-coli outbreak? What’s that? You don’t care, you’re just trying to find the nearest one to your girlfriend’s house so you can adjust your route accordingly? Use location:
Example of location:
Searching for [ Chipotle location:Midlothian, VA ] will show you the locations of Chipotle stores closest to the town of Midlothian, even if you live downtown. And yes, these are searches based on real life problems of our staff… and by staff I mean me. These are my problems.
Find a specific type of file
We use filetype: a lot in the IT world—searching for PDF instruction manuals for different devices and GIFs for sarcastically responding to an IM with an animation.
Example of filetype:
Searching for [ 2014 Honda Accord Coupe filetype:pdf ] brings up a list of public reference guides. Combining this with site:honda.com will ensure they’re official PDFs. Nifty, right?
Searching for [ it’s happening filetype:gif ] will bring up Ron Paul in a light show, ready to text to your friends. Don’t ask me why.
Search for a number range
Putting two dots (..) between two numbers will limit your search to articles or items in between those two numbers. Out of all of them, though, I’ve found this one to be the least perfect.
Example of two dots (..)
Searching for [ cruise $300..$500 ] will bring up sites either selling or reviewing cruise trips between $300 and $500. It’s not perfect, though, as it’s easy to throw those numbers into a search-able page to draw people in and then sell something at another cost. Your mileage may vary.
Find the missing word in a phrase
Aren’t quite sure of the word you’re looking for? Use a * in its place and Google will try to fill in the blank.
Example of *
Searching for [ * * and the Spiders from Mars ] will show me the album Ziggy Stardust. Though you should know that already.
Find a page that could use one or more search terms
Sometimes you aren’t entirely sure which term will get you the best results. In these cases you can use them both to find pages that might use one or the other.
Example for OR
Searching for [ Richmond river OR canal ] will display results for pages about the river and canal walk here in Richmond.
Google usually strips out any form of punctuation you include in your search terms, but there are a few symbols you can use to narrow your search to certain types of data.
Use + when searching for blood types
Use @ when searching for social tags
Use & when searching for strongly connected ideas, similar to using OR
Use % for searching for percentages
Use $ when searching for shopping items or the general cost of something
Use # when searching for trending and social media topics
Hyphenate words using – when they are strongly connected to each other. Be careful to avoid using a space, as that will make it an exclusion command.
There are also some cool search features that are kind of straight forward. Give them a try next time you’re looking for quick info.
Weather – weather <city>
Stock Quotes – <stock ticker>
Local Time – time <city>
Sports Scores – <team name>
Calculator – <equation>
Sunrise and Sunset Times – sunset <city>
Conversions – <amount+unit 1> to <amount+unit 2>
Dictionary – define <term>
Translations – translate <word> to <language>
Film Showings – movies <zip code>
Flight Status – <flight number>
Package Tracking – <tracking number>
And lastly, don’t forget to search for “do a barrel roll” just for fun.