Power User Tricks to Help You Find What You Want

Article by: Sandra Linton

Posted: March 21, 2015

It’s a common issue to waste a lot of time performing a Google search and not find what you want or not find what you want quickly enough. Try the following strategies to amp up the power in your searches. Don’t bother entering upper or title case. Google ignores most punctuation except for $ for prices, # for hashtags and + when used in situations like Google+ or C++. The plus (+) no longer means “and”. In most cases, press Enter after typing the search criteria.

1. Find an exact phrase

To search for an exact phrase in the exact order, enter quotation marks (” “) around the phrase.


“the rain in spain”

2. Use an asterisk for unknown or variable words

To search for results with unknown or variable words, enter an asterisk (*) within the search.


south america *birds

If you search for a phrase in quotes with an asterisk replacing a word, Google will search all variations of that phrase in the same order.


“the * in spain”

3. Search for one of several words

To search for pages that have one of several words, enter “OR” in capitals between the two words. If you type “OR” in lowercase, Google interprets the word as a search term instead of an operator.


learn OR education

4. Search for all words in text on a page

To search for pages that have all of several words in the text on the page, enter “allintext:” followed by the words.


allintext: dance jazz ballet

5. Exclude words

To exclude results that include a particular word, enter a hyphen or minus sign (-) before the word you want to omit.


california -coast

An interesting variation on this operator is that if there is no space before the hyphen or minus sign, Google considers the word(s) to be strongly connected and looks for them together on a page.



6. Search for information from a specific web site

To search for results from a specific web site, enter “site:” and then the site you wish to search. This also works for type of site such as edu for education sites.


site:thestar.com hurricane

site:edu lesson plan

To search for results from specific web sites including cached pages, enter “info:” and then the site you wish to search.


info:time.com hurricane

7. Search for sites in a location

To find information coming from a specific location, enter “location:” followed by the city or country.


volcano location:finland

8. Search for similar sites or words

To search for sites that are similar to a specific site, enter “related:” in front of the site for which you want to find similar results.



To search for sites with similar words, enter “~” in front of the word.



9. Search in the title of a web page

Entering “intitle:” in front of your search term will only produce results with that term in the title of the web page.



10. Search for the definition of a word

To search for the definition of a word, enter “define” followed by the word. Google will also look for slang words or acronyms.


define salient

11. Search for a specific file type

To search for a specific file type (such as pdf, ppt, docx and jpg), enter “filetype:” in front of the file you are searching for.


filetype:ppt strategic plan

12. Translate words, paragraphs or a page

To translate words, paragraphs or a page, enter “translate.google.com” in the address bar (not the search bar) and press Enter. Enter the text you’d like to translate, choose a language and click on Translate.

13. Search using voice commands

To search Google using voice commands (if you’re using Google Chrome or the Google app on your phone), click the microphone icon in the search bar and begin talking.

14. Check weather in a city

To check the weather in a city, enter “weather” followed by the city.


weather toronto

15. Find sunrise or sunset times in a city

To search for the sunrise and sunset times for a city, enter “sunrise” or “sunset” followed by the city.


sunrise honolulu

16. Find the current time in a city

To search for the time for a city, enter “time” followed by the city.


time boston

17. Look up your IP address

To look up your IP address, enter “IP address” in the search bar.

18. Check flight status

To check the status of a flight, enter the flight number in the search bar.



19. Look up stock quotes

To look up stock quotes, enter the desired stock symbol in the search bar.

20. Convert currency or measurements

To convert currency or measurements, enter the first amount and unit, type “to” and then enter the second unit.


54 inches to centimetres

100 cdn dollars to us

21. Search for a range of numbers

To search for a range of numbers, enter two periods (..) between the numbers.



22. Search academic papers and articles

To search for academic papers or articles, enter “scholar.google.com” in the address bar (not the search bar) and press Enter. Type the desired search criteria in the Google Scholar search box.

Google Scholar search screen.

23. Search Google news archives

Google news has an option to search archived news from newspapers around the world. Enter “news.google.com/archivesearch” in the address bar (not the search bar) and press Enter, then enter the desired search criteria or go directly to the Google news archive.

24. Compare foods

To compare foods, type two foods separated by “vs” in the search bar to receive side-by-side comparisons of the nutritional facts.


rice vs potatoes

25. Search for the results of an equation

You can have Google calculate results by typing the equation in the search bar. Use standard operators like + for addition, – for subtraction, * for multiply and / to divide. You can also enter %.


50% of 3000


26. Use Google’s scientific calculator

Use Google’s scientific calculator by typing “calculator” in the search bar and pressing Enter. A calculator appears much like a standard calculator where you can enter a calculation and use the buttons (including sin, cos and tan) on the calculator.

Google's scientific calculator.

27. Search for tip amount

Enter “tip calculator” and press Enter. A calculator will appear where you enter the amount of the bill,  the tip percent and the number of people.

Google tip calculator.

28. Search for books by author or songs by artist

To search for books by author, enter “books by” and the name of the author and Google will display all of their books.


books by charles dickens

To search for songs by a band, enter “songs by” and the name of the band and Google will display all of their songs and you can click on the songs to play them.


songs by queen

29. Search for Atari Breakout

Just for fun, if you search for “atari breakout” and click on Images, Google will display the classic game and you can play it.

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