Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983


Tips on using Google, Part 3

Feb. 5, 2011

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2011, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2011, The Post-Standard

   Searching for stuff on the web is easy. You open a Google search page, type something and click the "Google Search" button.
   If you're feeling, well, "lucky," you click "I'm Felling Lucky" instead, to tell Google to open the site that's most likely to fill your search request.
   But that's not all there is. Google has dozens of enhanced search methods. This week, in the third installment in our series, I'll share some of the most useful search techniques. You'll find earlier installments on my Web site at www.technofileonline.com.
   (In my search examples, I'm putting the searches in CAPITAL LETTERS just to show you the search examples. You don't have to use capitalization yourself.)
   Let's start with exact phrases. If you are looking for (in an example) APPLE PIE and not just APPLE and PIE together or apart, put quotes around the search phrase.
   Or, if you are looking for essential words that have to follow other ones, use a plus sign, like this: APPLE +PIE +RECIPE . Here's another example, if you're looking for something relating to Steve Jobs, the head of the company that makes iPads: APPLE +STEVE JOBS. To be even more precise, use a minus sign to leave something out, like this: APPLE +STEVE JOBS -PIE. (Sorry. If a Microsoft fan tosses a pie at Steve Jobs, your search won't show it.)
   Sometimes you know what you want, but you're not sure what the search subject will be called at various Web sites. In that case, you can use Google's synonym operator, a tilde, in front of the word you're using, without a space. (Tildes don't print well in the newspaper, so I'll just use the word instead.) So to look for cheap travel to San Jose, try something like this: (TILDE)INEXPENSIVE TRAVEL SAN+JOSE. That way, "cheap travel" and "low-priced travel" will show up along with "inexpensive travel."
   Still having trouble finding the exact results? Try the OR operator to tell Google to look for either-or results, as in this example: APPLE +PIE FROZEN OR APPLE +PIE "LONG TERM STORAGE."
   If you're convinced that a specific website has the information you're looking for, use the site operator, like this: APPLE +PIE SITE:WWW.COOKS.COM. This will limit Google searches to the Cooks.com website.
   Need to know the location of an area code? Type the area code number and search. Google will show you a map.
   How about a search that is limited to a range of dates? No problem. Use the double-dot operator to indicate the range, as in this example: OLYMPICS+JAVELIN 1950 .. 1980.
   Finally, what about other search sites, such as Bing or Yahoo? Neither of them has the range of options Google has, nor do they index as many Web sites and blogs. And Bing just got caught purloining Google's results. (Bad Bing. Bad, bad Bing.) Stick with the Big G.