We already know that Google is a behemoth.
So is its search functionality.
It goes much deeper than typing “cat memes” in the search bar.
Here are 16 ways to tap into the vast capabilities of Google searching:
1. Use the “site:” operator to search on one site — If you’ve ever wanted to block out everything but one web address, this is for you. Example: If you wanted to find articles on blogging, [site:ditchthattextbook.com blog] would return everything with the word “blog” from this site.
2. Use the “filetype” operator for certain files — I love finding good PDF guides. The “filetype” operator can help. Example: [filetype:pdf Google Docs guide] or [filetype:.pdf Google Docs guide] could generate some nice resources. (Note: Google only indexes certain types of files.)
3. Use Google as a dictionary — Use the “define” command to look up a word with Google’s online dictionary. Recently, Google has added etymology of words as well as usage over time. Example: [define succinct].
4. Use Google as a calculator — I often don’t grab the calculator out of my desk anymore. Just type a math problem into a Google search and it will calculate it for you.
5. Search images by color — If you search for images of cars and you just want red cars, search on Google Images and then click “Search tools”. Use the “color” drop-down and pick the color you’re looking for.
6. Use quotation marks for a phrase — Put quotation marks around a search when you want to find those words in exactly that order. Example: [“my country tis of thee”]
7. Search by image — Want to find where a picture has been used online? Go to Google Images and click the camera icon in the search bar. Search the web for a picture by providing the URL to the image or by uploading an image. It also returns visually similar images. (A search of my avatar photo from Ditch That Textbook returned, among others, a movie poster of “The Sound of Music,” which was kind of disturbing.)
8. Change language to pirate — By clicking the settings gear button and clicking “Languages”, you can change Google’s language to “Pirate.” The “search” option becomes “Searrrch.” Images becomes “Engravin’s.” Groups becomes “Crews.” Fun stuff.
9. Weather — No need to go to a different weather site anymore. Use the [weather] command and Google shows you all of your basic details. Example: [weather Indianapolis, IN]
10. Time — Use the [time] command to find the local time anywhere. Example: [time Paris]
11. Restaurants — Type [restaurants] and a location, and Google will display a bar of restaurants local to that area. Example: [restaurants San Francisco]
12. Fill in the blank — Google can answer questions for you with an asterisk. Simply type the phrase you’re looking for with an asterisk replacing the word you don’t know. Example: [Isaac Newton discovered *]
13. Package tracking — Just type the tracking number into Google and it will search UPS, FedEx or USPS for the package’s location.
14. Synonyms — If you want to include synonyms in your Google search, add a tilde before the search. Example: [~fast food]
15. Remove unnecessary results with a minus — Attach a minus sign to a word in a search and Google will remove results with that word.
16. Search “Atari Breakout” on Google Images — Just try it. Actually, if you don’t have time to kill, maybe you shouldn’t try it … it’s addicting.
Are there any others that you like to use? Add them in a comment below!