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Hidden features of Google

I know of a few good tricks to search the web:

  1. Use the most appropriate search engine (Google vs WolframAlpha, for example) Use it extensively, and when that fails, post question at the most appropriate place.
  2. Search in different languages (that you understand) Use the special "something:" keywords (like site:perdu.com)
  3. Start searching with general terms, then eliminate pollution with the - symbol (eg yard -school)
  4. Start searching with very specific terms, then broaden the result set by removing certain keywords which seem to be too precise.
  5. Keep track of closest results in case they may later on lead to the result you're looking for.

Any other tricks out there?

by the way, I was prompted to post this question upon looking for a painting for which I have nothing but a mental picture. I still haven't found it.

  • Phrase search ("")
  • Search within a specific website (site:)
  • Terms you want to exclude (-)
  • Fill in the blanks (*)
  • Search exactly as is (+)
  • The OR operator

Punctuation that is not ignored:

  • Punctuation in popular terms that have particular meanings, like [ C++ ] or [ C# ] (both are names of programming languages), are not ignored.
  • The dollar sign ($) is used to indicate prices. [ nikon 400 ] and [ nikon $400 ] will give different results.
  • The hyphen - is sometimes used as a signal that the two words around it are very strongly connected. (Unless there is no space after the - and a space before it, in which case it is a negative sign.)
  • The underscore symbol _ is not ignored when it connects two words, e.g. [ quick_sort ].


Google search basics: Advanced Search and

Google search basics: More search help.

  • I've edited the links back in as the references are still useful. – ChrisF Dec 12 '10 at 22:08

For the image search I recommend Google (http://images.google.com/). It does a nice job of matching the keywords with the image. Also, use the filters(type, size, color) to narrow down to your requirement.


A problem I often encounter when a search becomes difficult: I don't know the exact spelling, or I don't know the common term the thing I look for usually is referred. So I try to think of something related. For instance I recently was searching for a german entrepreneur who is popular for his social engagement towards his employees but I totally forgot his name and the name of his company. But I remembered him from a Youtube Video, there he flew with a helicopter, so my successful search term (in german) was a after experimenting with a few terms: textile employees entrepreneur social helicopter

Another tip: Switch search engines and use other web pages as search engines by reading them or using STRG-F. For instance you know how to get near the topic. Use the above method but afterwards click on some links and read them. Think about the content and ask yourself: Is this kind of web page more close to the result I am looking for than the web page (result page) I was browsing before? Yes? So change your search term and incorporate terms or "figures of speech" shown on this page. You will probably get to a similar page that might be even more relevant.

If you are looking for video content it makes sense to search on Youtube. But beware: Google search is better ;) So consider the last described tip and switch between Youtube and Google. For instance once I was looking for a funny video of some guy. After some "switching" I found his name, continuing I found the name of documentary and finally I got the video clip I was looking for...

By the way regarding this painting: If you are still not successful on Google, try to find a forum of art enthusiasts that might know this painting. That way I once found a song very quickly. (Though I already knew the forum, though I never used it before...)

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