Six clicks: Simple and time-saving Google search tricks

Six clicks: Simple and time-saving Google search tricks

Summary: During my years of using Google I've picked up an arsenal of tips and tricks to help me get to the information I'm looking for faster and more efficiently. Here are six tricks that I use most regularly.

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  • Narrow down your search

    Sometimes the web is too big and you'll want to narrow down your search to a specific site or subset of sites. For example, if you wanted to search zdnet.com for everything to do with the iPad, you'd use ipad site:zdnet.com. Don't forget the .com or you won't get any results. This is extremely helpful for searching your own site.

    Another way to use this is as a way to narrow down searches to a certain top-level domain (such as .com, .org, .edu). For example astronomy site:edu would limit astronomy searches to .edu websites.

    This way is more complicated but easier in the long run and it helps you avoid using extensions. We'll use ZDNet as an example:

    Click Settings. Under Search, click Manage Search Engines.

    In the “other search engines” list at bottom fill in the three empty boxes as follows:

    ZDNet

    Zdnet.com

    http://www.zdnet.com/search?q=%s

    Click Done.

    You can now search ZDNet directly by typing ZDNet followed by a space and your search terms.

    PS, if you want to make it even easier, use the single character Z as the name in the first box. Then you can just press Z, space, search term, go.

  • Not just for web pages

    The web is made up of a lot more than just web pages and is home to all sorts of filetypes, from PDFs to Word documents.

    For example, want PDF documents related to astronomy, use astronomy filetype:pdf. Want Word documents instead of PDFs? Use astronomy filetype:doc.

  • Make it timely

    Sometimes you want to search for timely information. To do this you carry out your search as normal and then click on Search tools and change Anytime to the desired range.

    If you want to stop Google trying to interpret what you type into the search box and just do a plain vanilla search, click on All results and choose Verbatim instead. This will, according to the search documentation, prevent Google from:

    • making automatic spelling corrections
    • personalizing your search by using information such as sites you’ve visited before
    • including synonyms of your search terms
    • finding results that match similar terms to those in your query
    • searching for words with the same stem 
    • making some of your terms optional

Topics: Tapping M2M: The Internet of Things, Google

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17 comments
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  • Slideshows...

    Does NO ONE at Zdnet ever notice the consistent feedback against putting info like this in a slideshow?
    gtvr
    • Slide Show a NO Go!

      I am so fed up with scrolling up after reading down just to TRY and go to the next page. Most of ZD is junk info written by folks who don't know how to use a word processor with grammar checker. By ZD, I quit you years ago and I'm doing it again,
      DW.
      davidewhite
  • Good list

    I use the math, currency and metric/English conversion often. I find Google really is not so fussy about entry formats: you'd probably get the same results just typing PDF or .pdf as with the fancy prefix. If I want to sideload an Android app I add .APK for a list of sources. When I want an IMDB or Wikipedia or Gutenberg.org result I use the site name as the first search term: "imdb gone with the wind" BINGO.
    I2k4
  • Only search worth typing

    "duckduckgo"

    TRY IT
    CornheadsBack
    • Thank you

      You just made my day! A search engine that doesn't track your searches and respects privacy. I use to have Google as my home page. Wanna guess what my new home page is?
      chaos213
      • Glad I could help

        Google used to be great but the rise of fb caused them to do an about face. So I don't trust them to do no evil any longer.
        CornheadsBack
    • search engine for mobile and privacy friendly

      http://www.searchgui.com is a search engine built for
      mobiles/tablets. It is also privacy friendly and stores no user
      info at all.

      Links to mobile apps:
      iPhone/iPad:
      https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/search-gui/id856167715?ls=1&mt=8

      Android:
      https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.searchgui.searchgui

      Amazon Fire tablet/mobile:
      http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00JS3DWEG/ref=sr_1_1
      gsantoshg@...
  • Google search getting worse

    Google search is getting worse. It reinterprets what I try to search, using search terms which I did not indicated and I did not want to use. When I use the form field for terms that must be in the results, it presents pages which do not contains all the terms I used for my query. The relevance of the results drops drastically after the first page. Results are duplicated page after page. I liked Google search, but not any more. It is a mess now.
    Rub2014
    • Depends on who you are

      Once you realize that YOU are the product and that all that quirkiness is Google's attempt to monetize YOU then it is actually very good for Eric Schmidt.

      Who's your daddy?
      CornheadsBack
  • -site:

    Something I find incredibly useful a ZDNet blogger mentioned is that site: can also have a minus sign in front of it to indicate "don't include results from this site".

    One thing that is a huge pain in the butt nowadays are all these "public data aggregation" sites, where you are trying to find someone's employer, what town they live in, or similar information. Using -site: (whatever.com) can get rid of loads of junk really quick.
    Rick_R
    • - everything

      The minus sign works on everything, and sometimes it's the only way to get what you want. You're looking for some guy named Reezlefotz and it turns out there's some Norwegian soccer player named Bjorn Reezlefotz that you never heard of, and there are 123,000 references to him in your search results. Search for "Reezlefotz -Bjorn" and the soccer player goes away.
      Robert Hahn
    • + anything

      I use the + sign on certain phrases, for terms that MUST be included in the returned matches.
      Dave Derrick
  • Google-specific URLs

    Although I too use Google almost exclusively, one thing that is a pain is that nowadays it's almost impossible to get the site URL directly from Google. If you try to copy the URL you get a Google-specific search result URL instead. I find that in many cases I have to look for some weird wording combination in the document/web page and then search for that specific text in Bing just to get the correct URL.
    Rick_R
  • Just one click

    With one click, I can use Bing...

    Stay away from Google malware
    Owl:Net
  • Not just Google

    All this works in Bing, too.
    bb_apptix
  • State, County and City Governmental sites (not specifically Google)

    Someone early on got a great idea and no doubt has made a fortune off it, and it helps when limiting to particular sites:

    STATE SITES take the format: state.{2-letter state abbreviation}.us e.g, www.state.ar.us

    Individual departments will add another layer between "www" and "state", e.g., www.awcc.state ... (Arkansas Worker's Comp Commission)

    COUNTY SITES: take the format: co.{county name}.{2-letter state abbreviation}.us e.g, www.co.garland.ar.us

    CITY SITES: take the format: ci.{city name}.{2-letter state abbreviation}.us e.g, www.ci.garland.tx.us

    It doesn't work 100% of the time because the individual governmental entity has to tie in to it. But it does work quite frequently.
    Rick_R
  • Currency (and Other) Conversion

    I don't have much use for this, but from the example, and a little experimentation, I started to wonder: how do you know the 3-letter (or can it be 2-letter, 4-letter or more?) abbreviation used as the GOOGLE standard for a currency? I found it takes several steps to determine what that is if you are not already familiar with the one you want. Obviously, the author has to convert frequently between USD and GBP (I would have thought LBS for Pounds Sterling), so he has those, and probably a few more, memorized. It would have been nice to include the quick way to look up the abbreviation (possibly "currency ghana" or something like that?) in the post.

    Similarly, measurements such as MILES and KM are obvious, but what would ergs or pascals or angstroms be, in "units pressure" for example?
    jallan32