If you’ve ever Googled the best way to Google on Google and come up short, follow these four tips from Randolph Hock, author of The Extreme Searcher’s Internet Handbook ($25, barnesandnoble.com). Then, learn seven surprising ways to utilize the Google search field.
To Find: PDFs, Excel spreadsheets, or PowerPoint Presentations
Use: filetype:pdf, filetype:xls, or filetype:ppt
Example: Canon manual filetype:pdf
Why: If you include the file type in your search, Google will turn up only relevant files. For example, entering filetype:pdf will find all the PDFs that have to do with operating your new camera. (For Excel files, use filetype:xls; for PowerPoint presentations, filetype:ppt.)
To Find: Narrowed-Down Information
Use: a hyphen (minus sign)
Example: jaguar -cars -football
Why: You want information about jaguars―the animal, not the car or the sports team. Placing a hyphen before terms you want to exclude will omit pages with those words. Type a space before the hyphen, but not after.
To Find: A Product You Saw Online (But Can’t Remember Where)
Example: intitle:“Frye boots”
Why: Using the term intitle: searches the words in the title bar of Web pages and can be particularly helpful if you remember the name of an item you liked but not where you found it. Just be sure not to put a space after the colon and to use quotation marks around the phrase.
To Find: A Verbatim Phrase
Use: quotation marks
Example: “Bikram yoga”
Why: Using quotation marks around a phrase or a person’s name can eliminate many of the irrelevant links you would otherwise turn up, says Hock.
7 Things You Can Do Directly in the Google Search Field
- Perform calculations. To figure out what 15 percent off that $78 shirt amounts to, just enter “78 x .15” into the search field, click “Search,” and the answer will show up at the top of the results page. No clicking on a second link required.
- Convert measurements. How many cups equal a liter? Simply type “cups in liter.” You can also find out currency conversions (“15 dollars in euros”).
- Track flights. Find out if your flight is on time by entering your airline and flight number.
- Locate packages. Hunt down an MIA delivery by entering “track” plus the tracking number for a direct link to the status page.
- Look up addresses. Type in a person’s home phone number and, if he or she is listed, Google will turn up the mailing address.
- Find movie showtimes. Enter “movies” plus your city or ZIP code to see theaters and showtimes for the next three days.
- Listen to songs. Thanks to a Google partnership with the music site lala.com, you can type the title of a song and its artist and a playable file will appear at the top of the results page.