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Garth Callaghan

Napkin Notes Dad

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Five Time-Saving Google Search Operators

WGarth Callaghan

You  might think that all Google searches are the same. Just type in the subject that you're looking for and click "Search." Here's the thing, though: all searches are not created equal. You can search smarter by taking advantage of Google's built-in search operators. Using these search operators will make your searches more accurate, bringing the most relevant information to the top so you don't have to waste time wading through results that do not meet your criteria. While the average Google search is usually pretty helpful, it's sort of like having a Swiss Army Knife but only using the little scissors. Sometimes searching with the little corkscrew will be of more help...I think I'm mixing my metaphors, so without further ado, here's my five favorite search operators: 


 


1) Quotes: This one is probably the most commonly used. If you want to find results that match your search terms exactly, simply place the words in quotation marks so that the entire phrase is treated as one search term, not a bunch of individual words. This is particularly useful when trying to find things like the name of the song based on a line or two of the lyrics or the author of a certain quote.


2) Minus: Sometimes you want to exclude a word from your search because the results are all off-topic. By placing a minus sign before the word or words you wish to exclude you are removing all pages that had those words from your results. For example, if you were interested in finding out more about the squirrels that live in Richmond, your first instinct might be to search [Richmond squirrels]. Pretty quickly you realize that all of the results are about the minor league baseball team. By searching [Richmond squirrels -flying -baseball], most of the results are actually about the pesky animals that live in your yard.

3) Asterisk: The wildcard operator is used by typing an asterisk in the place of a word that you either can't remember or are trying to find. Using this trick is basically like having Google fill in the blank for you. You might use this if you quickly want to find what some people's favorite movies are, as [* is my favorite movie] is much more to the point that [is my favorite movie]. You could also use the wildcard if you are trying to remember a word from a quote or a part of the title of a book.

4) Define: It isn't terribly difficult to use a dictionary online, but you could save yourself some time with this tip. Just type "define:" before the troublesome word and the first result that Google brings will be a definition, part of speech, and pronunciation with links to several dictionaries for more information.


5) Site: Sometimes you might read an article on a website and have trouble finding it later, or you just might want to see what a particular site had to say about some subject. Exploring the site to find it might take a long time, and searching the website's name along with the subject still might not give you what you're looking for. For instance, if you wanted to find what we've had to say about Google in the past you could search [google 127tech.com] which gives you a few results from this site, but most of the results are irrelevant, showing all instances where the words "Google" and "127TECH" appeared on the same page. Searching [google site:127tech.com] shows only results from this site, making it much easier to find what you were looking for.


Now that you know a few more search tips you can save time by not having to go through pages and pages of search results to find what you were looking for. Taking advantage of these built-in search operators can make you a master-Googler so that you can now impress your friends and family with how quickly you are able to come up with information from the web.