Search Tricks to Help You Find What You Want
by Avantix Learning Team | Updated March 20, 2020
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.
Find an exact phrase
To search for an exact phrase in the exact order, enter quotation marks (” “) around the phrase.
“the rain in spain”
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”
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
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
To exclude results that include a particular word, enter a hyphen or minus sign (-) before the word you want to omit.
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.
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:edu lesson plan
To search for results from specific web sites including cached pages, enter “info:” and then the site you wish to search.
Search for sites in a location
To find information coming from a specific location, enter “location:” followed by the city or country.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Check weather in a city
To check the weather in a city, enter “weather” followed by the city.
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.
Find the current time in a city
To search for the time for a city, enter “time” followed by the city.
Look up your IP address
To look up your IP address, enter “IP address” in the search bar.
Check flight status
To check the status of a flight, enter the flight number in the search bar.
Look up stock quotes
To look up stock quotes, enter the desired stock symbol in the search bar.
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
Search for a range of numbers
To search for a range of numbers, enter two periods (..) between the numbers.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
This article was first published on March 21, 2015 and has been updated for clarity and content.
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