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7 ways to supercharge your Google searches with AI

Google's standard search tool can now deliver AI-generated overviews, images, and more.
Written by Lance Whitney, Contributor
Screenshot by Lance Whitney via Google AI/ZDNET

Those of us who've used Google Search for years know the drill. Type your search word or term at the prompt, and the results show you tens or hundreds of thousands of links to related webpages. But who has time to check out all those links? Well, now you can fine-tune and focus your Google searches with a hefty dose of artificial intelligence (AI).

Thanks to Google's latest tricks, you can ask for an AI Overview to summarize the results. You can seek out recommendations for gifts, things to do, or TV shows and movies to watch. You're able to ask for help generating code and other content.

Also: How to sign up for Google Labs - and 5 reasons why you should

Further, you can request images and other artwork. And you can use the Google Search side panel to view a summary of an article or other page displayed in your browser. All you need is a Google account and a Chrome browser. Here's how to dive in.

1. Enable AI Tools

The new AI Overview and other features are currently being rolled out for everyone. But to ensure that you already have access, you can sign up for access through Google Labs. 

Also: Meet Veo, Google's most advanced text-to-video generator, unveiled at Google I/O 2024

To do this, open Chrome on your PC and browse to the Google Labs page for Search. Scroll down to the AI Experiments section and click the Turn on buttons for "AI Overviews and more" and "AI tools while browsing".

Enable AI Tools
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

2. Get an AI Overview for any search

The first feature you'll want to try is the AI Overview. Browse to Google's search engine and enter your request in the search field. This doesn't work with all queries, so you may have to try a few different searches to find the right kind. Your best bet is to type a question instead of a word or term. In response, you should see an AI Overview at the top of the search results. If the Overview doesn't appear automatically, click the Generate button to trigger it.

Also: The 4 biggest Google Search features announced at Google I/O 2024

The Overview typically displays one or more paragraphs summarizing the information. You may see corresponding images or videos as well.

Get an AI Overview for any search
Screenshot by Lance Whitney via Google AI/ZDNET

3. Check out the sources

Click the down arrow at the end of any paragraph to see the name of the source that was used. Click a link to any source to view its web page with the related information highlighted. Click the three-dot icon for a source to view further details about it.

Check out the sources
Screenshot by Lance Whitney via Google AI/ZDNET

4. Get recommendations

You can narrow your request to receive recommendations for specific items. Maybe you're looking for the right gift for someone special. Maybe you're traveling to a new city and would like a list of things to do. Maybe you're spending a quiet evening at home and want suggestions for TV shows or movies to watch.

Also: How to use Google's AI-powered NotebookLM to organize your research

In the search field, type your request based on the information you seek. In return, Google's AI Overview should offer some hopefully helpful recommendations.

Get recommendations
Screenshot by Lance Whitney via Google AI/ZDNET

5. Generate code or other content

The name of the game is generative AI, so why not ask Google to generate content for you? You can request almost any type of content -- an essay, a poem, a haiku, a story, or computer code. Enter the specifics of the content you want created and see what Google cooks up.

Generate code or other content
Screenshot by Lance Whitney via Google AI/ZDNET

6. Request an image

Next, you can ask Google to generate an image. At the prompt, describe the type of image you want. You can also specify a style, such as photorealistic or anime. In response, Google displays two or more images. Click a specific image and you're able to edit it, share it, and export it.

Request an image
Screenshot by Lance Whitney via Google AI/ZDNET

7. Get a summary of a webpage

Finally, you can request an AI-generated summary of many articles and web pages. For this feature, browse to a page you'd like to see summarized. Click the G icon on the toolbar. After the sidebar appears, click the Generate button. You'll now see a summary of the content from the current page. You can also select any of the related searches to explore the topic.

Get a summary of a webpage
Screenshot by Lance Whitney via Google AI/ZDNET
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