I came across the Google Guide Advanced Operators Reference today and it reminded me just how powerful Google searching can be. Here is a quick rundown of how to use a few of the more useful operators.
Did you know Google can quickly give you the five day forecast by simply typing in “Weather”? It pulls geographic location data from your ISP IP address, so it may show the wrong city (in my case, it pulls up Indianapolis and not Bloomington). That’s ok, just type in “weather in bloomington in”. That was easy. Google figured out what I needed by the “o” in Bloomington 😉
Other search operations to try (these should be fairly self explanatory):
- weather or weather in london
- time or time in Sydney
- movies or showtimes in Indianapolis
- flights or flights from New York
- define:americana or what is americana
Check out Explore Google Search for even more!
Specify a particular site to search to narrow down results quicker by using the “site:” operator. Example:
Specify a particular file format to search for by using “filetype:” This includes (but not limited to) DOC, PDF, PPT, XLS, TXT, and RTF.
Track packages by entering your tracking number into Google’s search field. No need to know whether that tracking number is for UPS or FedEx, Google will figure that out for you and link you to the correct site with the shipping data.
includes results for the search term “mouse” and “mice”
Enclose your search string in quotes to search for that exact string. You will get vastly different search results vs not using quotes. Encasing your search in quotes guarantees relevant results at the risk of missing pages that do not contain your exact phrasing.
Boolean operators such as AND / OR can narrow down your search results. You can also use + and – to include or exclude terms. Example:
- lightspeed “star wars” and “star trek” All pages regarding lightspeed in star wars and star trek
- lightspeed “star wars” or “star trek” All pages regarding lightspeed in either / or
- lightspeed “star wars” -“star trek” All pages regarding lightspeed containing ONLY star wars
An asterisk * can also be used as a search wildcard.
Use Google as your calculator to perform advanced math or conversions. The search box will interpret words or symbols as math operators (*, x, and times are all allowed). It will also convert any unit you can throw at it!
for more advanced math functions see the Google Guide Quick Reference Calculator Cheat Sheet
Read through Google’s own advanced search tips for more!