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I assume you already know that Google is a powerful search engine. But did you know that you can do more than just find stuff ? As a Google Power User you can control what, where and how google works.

In this guide I will show you how you can put Google to better use, how to make it suit YOUR needs. Some of these tips I am sure you already know, and some might even surprise you. There are seemingly endless possibilities, and more get added all the time. In this article I cannot cover everything, but hopefully I can show you a few things you didn’t already know…

Style Your Search

When you type in your search-phrase Google will search for all the words anywhere in the resulting pages. If you search for a sentence you may find the result page containing pages with all the words, but not in the desired order.

By using plus (+), minus (-), “and”, “or”, quotes (“…”) and “dot” (.) in your searches you can define what kind of information you are looking for. These common signs makes it easy to tell Google what is of more interest to you or not.

  • Adding a plus-sign in front of a word will tell Google it’s important
  • Adding a minus-sign in front of a word will tell Google to Exclude this word
  • Words like “and”, “or” will search for both or the other
  • Quotes means to search for the entire expression
  • Dot (.) between words instead of spaces tell Google to search for the following words in the typed order.

A search might look like this:  -White +Red Or Yellow. This will search for the word Red Or Yellow, but Google will ignore page where White occurs.

Synonyms and wildcards

By using the ~ (tilde)symbol in front of a search word you ask Google to look for synonyms: The search for ~car repair would also match on auto repair and automotive repair.

To specify a numerical range, use two dots between two numbers, which could be years, dollar amounts, or any other numerical value. For example, confidential business plan 2007..2010 will find documents that mention 2007 or 2008 or 2009 or 2010.

Another favorite operator is the wildcard, i.e. the asterisk character. It can substitute for a whole word in an exact phrase search. Imagine that you can’t remember the exact words of an expression; you’d simply substitute asterisks for the words you can’t recall.

For instance, * of my * have been greatly exaggerated” — is it supposed to be “news,” “announcements,” or “rumors” in the first slot? “death” or “demise” in the second slot?

Search in specific places, using keywords

By default Google will look in every indexed record or page. By narrowing your search to specific sites or types it will be easier to find what you are looking for. The following keywords will help you do this.

  • site (site:www.mintywhite.com) – this will return searches from the mintywhite site.
  • filetype (filetype:pdf | filetype:docx | filetype:torrent)
    You can search for any filetype you like.

By adding this symbol: | between your keyword searches you can search in several sites or search for several filetypes at once: allintext:Windows 7 Performance site:www.mintywhite.com | site:www.microsoft.com

Define where to search:

  • inurl  (inurl:mintywhite
  • allinurl (allinurl:minty white)
  • intext (intext:poweruser – search in the page body only)
  • allintext (allintext:become google poweruser – search for all the words in the page body only)
  • intitle (Search in the page title only)
  • inanchor (search for anchor text only)

The search might look like this:  site:www.mintywhite.com allintext:become google poweruser

Do calculations

From time to time you need to do some calculations or perhaps convert numbers, values, temperatures, timezone differences etc. Google let you do this without finding a specific page that offer your request.

  • To convert Celsius to Fahrenheit, type: 30C to F
  • To convert £ to USD, type: 30£ to USD
  • Miles to Kilometers, type: 500 miles in kilometers
  • And normal calculations to: (365 * 40) / 12

You can do almost any calculation you can think of: amps, volts, height, length, volume, date, time etc. The sky’s the limit.

Take control, The URL way…

It’s not only the search you can control in Google, you can also control the output. For instance, changing the number of results displayed per page, adding omitted results back in, going to the last page of search results, and turning off personalization, are just a few of your choices.

Type it…

You don’t have to open Google.com to do your searches, you can simply type everything in the address-field in your browser, like this: google.com/search?q=swiss+cheese. By adding some variables to the URL we can then control the output:

  • By adding the variable &num, we can set how many results to show per page: http://google.com/search?q=cheese&num=100
  • You can choose how far down the result list to start, by using &start: http://google.com/search?q=cheese&start=900
  • Sometimes Google informs you that they have omitted some results, to get them all back, use the &filter=0: http://google.com/search?q=cheese&filter=0
  • Google will always try to return personalized results, based on the last 180 days of your surfing (stored in a cookie). To turn it off, use: &pws=0: http://google.com/search?q=cheese&pws=0
  • &safe=on or &safe=off – will turn on (or off) Google’s Safe Content Filter: http://google.com?q=cheese&safe=off (try this one at your own risk).
  • In Google’s Image Search you can specify what kind of images you would like to find by using &imgtype: http://google.com/images?q=cheese&imgtype=face (Options include face, photo, clipart, lineart, and news)

Well there you have it…

I could go on forever, but I’m not going to. If you would like to explore this further, you can find many ideas here: http://www.google.com/landing/searchtips/.

There’s room for one last tip: Many of the settings mentioned in this article can also be performed using the Google Advanced Search Page.

If you have any suggestions or tips on how YOU use Google, don’t hesitate to leave your story in the comments below.

About Thomas

Computer geek from the age of 7, which amounts to 30 years of computer experience. From the early days (when every computer company had their own OS) of DOS, Windows 1.0 through Seven...

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One thought on “Become a Google PowerUser [How To]”

  1. Angel says:

    Great post Thomas

Comments are closed.

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