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


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44 Answers

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
4  
+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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Weather Forecasts

<CITY> forecast

Gives a nice box like this one:

Las Vegas Weather

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AROUND() operator

It works like this

pizza AROUND(2) restaurant

pizza is maximally separated by two words from restaurant in the website text. So it is especially useful to find a word in a specific context.

http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/how-use-undocumented-operator-around-improve-google-searches.htm

For searching very specific scientific papers i use it in google scholar quite alot. One should use it with more other operators and words to make it effective, as AROUND doesnt work too well with to much results.

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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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Easter Eggs

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3  
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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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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Punctuation Notes

Special characters and punctuation are generally ignored except for the following exceptions.

"" - Quotations
Phrase Search
"Captain Crunch"

: - Colon
Selector for search parameters
site:news.ycombinator.com
filetype:pdf

- - Dash / Negation
Used to exclude terms from the query
steve -jobs -wozniak -perry

+ - Plus
Used for the exact term preventing similar words

~ - Tilde Operator Takes the word immediately following it and searches both for that specific word and for the word’s synonyms.

Math Operations

+ - Addition

- - Subtraction

/ - Division

* - Multiplication

Reserved Symbols

$ - Dollar symbol
Used for currency

# - Pound / Sharp Used in:
- C# C Sharp programming language, F Sharp, etc.. - Chords, Scales

++ PlusPlus
Used in: C++ Programming Language.

_ Underscore
Treats entire set as one
+peter_parker not peter parker, + is used to prevent similar wordings.

If you still cannot obtain what you are searching for follow these questions for advice:
How can I search for a keyword with special characters in Google Search?
How to search the internet for terms with special characters

↑ Back to top of page

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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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3  
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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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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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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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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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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The '?' operator

You can do all conversions.

Currency converter, 1USD=?INR

Celsius to Fahrenheit, 30C = ?F

It is closely related to the calculator function but it's just simpler.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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3  
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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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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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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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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To see the weather/temperature for some city search for: temperature CITY

For example, for Mumbai it would be : temperature mumbai

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It's pretty good with sports events and scores as well...

Searching f1 gives you the qualifying (after qualifying), race result (after the race for a few days) and then the overall drivers results.

It also had similar features for cricket where you could type Aus V NZ to see the current match scores when Australia play New Zealand, for example including the last 2 overs summary...

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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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For temperature conversion, use a form like "30 degrees C in F".

Using "30° C in F" won't work.

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Several features that Lifehacker posted several years ago: http://lifehacker.com/339474/top-10-obscure-google-search-tricks:

  1. Make Google recognize faces
  2. ID people, objects, and foreign language words and phrases with Google Image Search
  3. Find music and comic books
  4. Find related terms and documents
  5. Remove affiliate links from product searches
  6. Use Google as a free proxy
  7. Compare items with "better than" and find similar items with "reminds me of"
  8. Convert currency, metrics, bytes, and more
  9. Track flight status
  10. Get the local time anywhere

Number three was my favorite for a while, and because the browser Opera lets you create your own search engines inside of it, you can program these in very easily.

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You can get Google to answer questions, where it brings back the actual answer as text (rather than a link to a page). For instance, try:

When was ie6 released? and you get the response:

Internet Explorer 6 release — August 27, 2001

According to wikipedia.org, wikipedia.org and sitecrafting.com

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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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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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