How do you search searches that include Google functional characters, like

  • -
  • *
  • "

on Google?

For example, how would one search for "Hello World" with the quotes included into the search?

  • Related: stackoverflow.com/questions/4685615/… Mar 18, 2015 at 1:38
  • There are two issues. One is getting the character recognized in the search string, the other is using it. Since the characters are not indexed, there would be nothing to find even if you found a way to get Google to incorporate it into the search string.
    – fixer1234
    Mar 18, 2015 at 5:27

3 Answers 3


The general answer from Google is that you can't get Google to recognize symbols as literals in a search. There are a few special things symbols are used for (e.g. - to negate a word) and other than that they're ignored. It's unfortunate, but that's what seems to be for most search engines. SymbolHound is a search engine designed to fix this problem, but it seems to have an extremely limited search set.

It seems that searching using symbols is a problem that is largely not dealt with, which is unfortunate for those of us who need to include symbols in our search queries on a regular basis.

Editor note:

There are comments in the SymbolHound post on Stack Apps reporting that it has been down since April 2022. No reply from the developer. Ref. SymbolHound: Search Stack Overflow for special characters

  • wow - I wouldn't have thought that is not possible to escape special/functional chars on Google!
    – Anupam
    Nov 22, 2019 at 13:40
  • You can now search for things that begin with the minus symbol by using quotation marks: dpkg "-i" to search for dpkg -i
    – mchid
    Feb 2, 2020 at 7:59

I found a mention of one method from this stackoverflow question. I tested it and it only sort of works. For instance with " or the HTML code " it works while other codes such as the * or HTML code * will not. Not sure how google decides this but there are other web search engines that allow for characters.

Here are some other web engines that do allow them:

  • yahoo
  • bing
  • duckduckgo

and I assume many more.

StackOverflow Source: Looking for special characters in Google


I think I have a pretty good answer here, I'd comment but I'm currently unreputable ;-)

I made a search today looking for "@domain.com" and saw it was not being escaped. I stumbled upon an indirect alternative.....of course that search filter means [limit results to 'domain.com' for what I'm about to search.]

Search for an alpha char before your symbol, and this appears to escape it. Likely the search results for your single character in front of the desired search will be very few, and right after those will be your desired results! This works because Google defaults to showing results similar to your query after it shows what your query returned.

Example: Instead of "@domain.com", try "[email protected]". If you get too many results, try "[email protected]", etc.

For a different symbol: Instead of "$donnie", try "a$donnie". Should work. Hope this is helpful.

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