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Six clicks: Simple and time-saving Google search tricks

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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1 of 7 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Introduction

I use Google as my primary guide to the internet. Why Google? Because I used to be a big AltaVista user until one day I realized that I wasn't getting as much out of the internet as I could be getting and I switched to Google. Since then I've looked at a number of different search engines, but nothing has compelled me to switch.

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.

Previously on Six Clicks:

Six Clicks: iOS 7 tips and tricks | ZDNet

Six clicks: Great tips and tricks for Android | ZDNet

Six clicks: Weird tricks that will actually make you happier with Windows 8.1

Six clicks: Single board computers: Banana Pi, Raspberry Pi, and more

Six clicks: Gadgets to let you do more with your tablet

 

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What's the time?

Planning a meeting that spans timezones? Yeah, it can be tricky, and unless you want to decorate your entire office with clocks you need an alternative.

Go to Google and type time followed by the name of a country or town/city to get the current time.

If you want to find out how much behind or ahead of UTC a place is, replace time with timezone.

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Money matters

Currency conversion can be a pain, but Google can help take the strain.

For example, if I want to find the conversion rate for US dollars to British pounds, I type usd to gbp into Google to get an interactive calculator.

If I wanted to get specific I could type 500 usd to gbp.

You can also use the same trick for other conversions, such as miles to km, inches to feet and mb to tb.

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Math is hard

Got a math problem that's taxing your brain but don't have the time/energy/brain cells to work it out the old fashioned way? Use Google!

Just type the problem into the search box to get the answer. Not only do you get the answer, but you also get a cool calculator.

If you just want to get up the calculator, type calc.

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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.

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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.

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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

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