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What little known tips and tricks do you have for searching on Google?


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44 Answers

I like, but rarely remember to use, the synonym operator.

Search for "~auto loan" will find info for both the word auto and its synonyms: truck, car, etc.

(example taken from Google's cheat sheet of search operators)

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33  
I didn't know that Cheat Sheet existed! –  George Stocker Jul 1 '10 at 14:18
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+1 for cheat sheet. –  Stefan Lasiewski Jul 1 '10 at 17:43
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The Calculator

Without a doubt. It's far more powerful than people realise (although people here have touched on some of its features).

Basic maths

3 * 2

Gives: 6

4 + 12

Gives: 16

It knows BODMAS:

2^10 / 4 + 1

Gives: ((2^10) / 4) + 1 = 257

It knows English:

(five plus seven) divided by six

Gives: two

(I really like that it shows you its order of precedence, which can sometimes be confusing otherwise)

Constants

e

Gives: 2.71828183

And so one with pi etc.

It also knows more complex expressions for constants:

Avogadro's number

Gives: 6.0221415 × 10^23

You can do maths with constants (and it knows imaginary numbers):

i^2

Gives: -1

e^(pi * i)

Gives: -1

Functions

It can do logs:

log(16)

Gives: 1.20411998

I haven't found a way to directly take logs of arbitrary bases, but this work-around does me in the meantime:

log 1024 / log 4

Gives: 5

cos(pi)

Gives: -1

Dimensional Analysis

It knows units! It can do conversion:

1 kilogram in lbs

Gives: 1 kilogram = 2.20462262 pounds

You can do maths with them of course. How many g's does the Bugatti Veyron pull if you floor it?

62 miles per hour / 2.5 seconds / 9.8 metres per second squared

Gives: 1.1312849

Tasty. Want your output in a different form?

60 miles per hour * 20 minutes in kilometres

Gives: 32.18688 kilometres

Bases

(Thanks to Dan's comment below)

The calculator can also output in other bases:

15 in hex

Gives: 15 = 0xF

12 * 3 in binary

Gives: 12 * 3 = 0b100100

And it can convert from them too, and do Roman numerals!

XXXVI in decimal

Gives: XXXVI = 36

Put it all together

answer to life the universe and everything * pi * e * avogadro's number * speed of light

Gives: 6.47538066 × 10^34 m / s

A more meaningful equation... how about how much energy a nuclear bomb releases? We all know E = mc^2:

600 milligrams * the speed of light squared

Gives: 5.39253107 × 10^13 joules

Closing tips

Sometimes you need to put in brackets to express precedence clearly, for example "five plus seven divided by six" and "(five plus seven) divided by six" give different answers.

If the calculator doesn't kick in you can attempt to coerce it by appending "=" to your query, for example "1+2=".

It knows most units and constants (including currencies) but it isn't 100% perfect, so if something doesn't work try rewording it.

Bonus tip for users of Chrome and Firefox: If you type a calculator query into the omnibar / search box and wait for suggestions to pop up, the first suggestion will be the answer. Saves you a pageload!

Lastly if you think it will work, it quite possibly will! It handles a wide array of inputs, outputs and operators, someone pointed me to a comprehensive list here.

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8  
Excellent amount of detail :) –  Hamish Downer Jul 9 '10 at 12:11
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+1 for an impressive answer! –  jfoucher Jul 13 '10 at 10:38
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Thanks :) Most of that was off the top of my head, I use Google's calculator constantly as it's the only one I know of that does units. –  ZoFreX Jul 13 '10 at 12:35
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It even understands bizarre units. Try "1 m/s in furlongs per fortnight" –  Marc Jul 13 '10 at 16:17
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You can also get results in other number bases eg. '12 * 3 in roman numerals' or '10 ^ 2 in hex' or '1024 in binary' etc. –  Dan Diplo Aug 6 '10 at 9:21
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Easter Eggs

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That is a very cute Google'ism. –  geoffc Jul 14 '10 at 17:04
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This is more of an Easter egg than a feature. –  harpo Aug 6 '10 at 20:28
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site:

You can use the 'site:' keyword to make Google only return results from one site.

For example you could enter this into Google:

algorithms site:ocw.mit.edu

Which would bring you to results from ocw.mit.edu only.

You can also put quotes around your search terms to search for an exact string.

For example

"stackoverflow.com is great"

would yield different results from

stackoverflow.com is great

You can search specific sites for information by using:

site:yoursitehere.com searchterms

This works to the point where you can narrow your site search down to specific sub-folders, by using:

site:yoursitehere.com/folder1/folder2/ searchterms.

If you don't put 'site: before the yoursitehere.com then it just searches for occurrences of the URL name, and not necessarily the site itself.

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You don't have to include an entire domain either. I use that regularly for country-specific searches: site:.ch (one reason I don't like .com for local companies) –  Benjol Aug 2 '10 at 13:07
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I often use site:stackoverflow.com when a Google result doesn't have the answer to my question in the top few. :) –  Amadiere Aug 2 '10 at 17:58
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Conversions

Currency conversions and unit conversions can be found using the syntax:

<amount> <unit1> in <unit2>

As in:

1 GBP in USD

or:

0 C in F

or:

1 in in cm

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I like that it works with arithmetic calculations and complicated units too: "10000 pounds/year in dollars/month" "(2pi) kilowatt * 3 hours in calories" –  configurator Jul 8 '10 at 1:46
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(1.21 gigawatts) / (88 mph) = 30,757,874 newtons. Complete guide - google.com/help/calculator.html. –  Bratch Jul 16 '10 at 16:23
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Time

Search for "time in " and you'll get the local time for that place.

For example:

time in Detroit

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3  
also works: Detroit time, and slightly less verbose –  Justin L. Jul 7 '10 at 21:34
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Translation

You can use it as a translator ( or as shortcut to translate.google.com )

ie:

translate:Hola to:English

Yields:

translation result

Very handy

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This does work without colons: "translate hola to english" –  blueyed Aug 2 '10 at 15:50
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define:

I like:

define:term

Which finds definitions.Though, Google recently added displaying definition automatically for single-word searches. No "define" needed.

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filetype:

To search by specific file types:

"search term" filetype:pdf
"search term" filetype:doc

Two additional things that are less obvious about it (and other specs you can do like it):

  1. You can combine 2 or more filetype:ext specs
  2. You can use not filetype by using -filetype:ext

For example:

-filetype:pdf filetype:doc resume will find resumes that are in DOC format but not PDF.

c++ -site:experts-exchnage.com -site:some_other_bad_site.com

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yeah, and then add some terms to find directory listings wink wink –  adamcodes Jul 1 '10 at 15:54
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Fill in the Blank (*)

Sometimes the best way to ask a question is to get Google to fill in the blank by adding an asterisk (*) at the part of the sentence or question that you want finished into the Google search box. For example:

Madame Curie died in *

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The first result I get is: Live streaming Slovakia vs Slovenia | Watch Slovakia vs Slovenia ... 10 Oct 2009... ukraine vs england match, real madrid vs fc zurich pictures, erin andrews peep pictures, patrick swayze funeral, Madame Curie died in *, ... Not sure that I would call that a good result. –  fmark Jul 2 '10 at 1:25
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The right answer (both location and year) come later on the first page, correctly highlighted even. –  David Schmitt Jul 2 '10 at 10:13
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Surround with quotes for best results. Then it looks for the exact phrase - and fills in the blank. –  configurator Jul 8 '10 at 1:46
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Spell Checking

The spellchecker. Google claimed at a talk I was at that it was the most advanced in the world - I've certainly yet to find one better. It excels in two areas:

Drunk typing

Searching for:

dfinhryodmnie

Finds:

diphenhydramine

Context

Searching for:

cofi shop

Suggests:

coffee shop

But searching for:

cofi annan

Suggests:

Kofi Annan

I don't know any other spell checker that does this.

Google's spellchecker is so good for a reason - here are some of the many ways users spelt Britney Spears.

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Flights

If you put in a flight number, the top result is the status of the flight. It's a direct link to information available on flightstats.com.

Enter AA825 and it will immediately show you the status of the flight. It will show you the gate and terminal when it lands.

No more navigating to travel sites.

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This feature could get a lot more interesting now that Google has purchased a travel software firm: digitaltrends.com/computing/… –  Scott A. Lawrence Jul 3 '10 at 2:32
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allintext:

allintext: matches only those sites that match every word.

It's good when the cached page says:

These terms only appear in links pointing to this page

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Tracking numbers

If you have a package tracking number from the USPS, UPS or FedEx, simply plug it into Google Search and they'll provide a convenient link for you.

For example:

Sorry, I don't know how FedEX numbers are formatted and I can't find a working sample online. However, I think it works.

Also try to lookup a UPC number:

Or an ISBN (Thanks @Joe White):

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OR operator

The OR operator will find pages that have either keyword, but not both:

joe satriani OR bonamassa

Being a programmer, I once created an OR condition as you would find it in programming languages. I was surprised to find this works as well:

joe (satriani|bonamassa)

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Movies

Searching for movies using your zip-code, as in:

movies: 90210

"movies near [town or place]" is a pretty good search. It lets you search for movies playing near a town or place and shows what times they're playing and film ratings and everything

movies near chichester, uk

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6  
It doesn't seem to work outside the USA. –  delete Jul 1 '10 at 14:19
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You can also put a city/country name (like "movies: paris, france") to get similar results. –  GalacticCowboy Jul 8 '10 at 19:15
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Negation / Exclude Terms

Examples

Exclude experts-exchange from my search results using the 'site:' tag, like this:

how to load a file php -site:experts-exchange.com

Searches for "apple" where word "tree" is not used.

apple -tree 
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Weather Forecasts

<CITY> forecast

Gives a nice box like this one:

Las Vegas Weather

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Believe it or not, you can insert the letter 'l.' (ICAO 'Lima') before 'google.com' in the URL of Google or any subdomain and get to the same site, e.g.:

video.l.google.com

mail.l.google.com

It might seem trivial, but it has a couple uses: for one, you can go to the site logged out without any cookies set. For another, you can still watch videos even if your filter blocks video.google.com. :D

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Public Data

To see trends for population and unemployment rates of U.S. states and counties, type population or unemployment rate followed by a state or county. For example: population germany

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To look up any English word, we can try this:

en:en camouflage

It will give you dictionary-style definition of camouflage. You can click more at the end of definition to navigate to Google dictionary to see full entry.

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I use Google Bookmarks and Stars in search to limit my search to a subset of sites.

For example, I have a collection of good bookmarks called Bash Shell Scripting Resources (It's public, check it out). When I search for Bashisms, these sites are given priority in my search results.

And since I'm using Google Bookmarks, these bookmarks appear in my Google Toolbar or as an applet at https://www.google.com/ig .

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Search for 'e' and you get e = 2.71828183

'pi' gives pi = 3.14159265

'phi' gives the golden ratio = 1.61803399

'G' gives gravitational constant = 6.67300 × 10^{-11} m^3 kg^{-1} s^{-2}

And so on for other mathematical and physical constants.

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That

my-multiple-search-terms

works like

"my-multiple-search-terms" OR "my multiple search terms" OR "mymultiplesearchterms"

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related: Related Search

To search for web pages that have similar content to a given site, type related: followed by the website address into the Google search box. For example: related:www.cnn.com

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Sunset in xxx (For example, "sunset in new york") or sunrise in xxx gives you the exact time of sunset/sunrise.

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This was also in a link someone posted, but I use it all the time @ work when a site is blocked:

cache:http://www.somecoolsite.com

It doesn't give you a perfect repr of the site, but if you're just trying to read stuff (like answers to programming questions that are blocked by Websense for being in the "Business & Economy" category), it works great.

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I use inurl: and intitle: to narrow down searches all the time, they can be useful if you are looking for specific pages about a topic, rather than a page with the term anywhere on it, eg intitle:webapps could be useful if you were looking for articles about that topic.

A couple of people mentioned * but I found out a while ago that you can include it inside a phrase search eg "i * my job" finds I ♥ My Job, I love my job, and I heart my job as phrases. You can even combine all of the above like this intitle:"i * my job"

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Compiled list of answers:

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1  
Unfortunately given the default accept behaviour, this answer is all the way on page three based on default vote sorting. –  Eight Days of Malaise Jul 18 '11 at 20:24
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