Google is a more powerful tool than most people realize. You can get much more refined searches with Google’s built-in tools, advanced operators, and third-party extensions. You can also use it for some pretty cool stuff if you know the right tricks.
1). Use search operators
Google does a pretty good job of working out what you’re looking for, but the more specific you are the better your results will be.
Using operators does just that, so for example enclosing a phrase in quotation marks — “like this” — searches for that specific phrase, adding a minus sign excludes that word (salsa recipe — tomatoes) and using OR gives Google a choice, eg. World Cup location 2014 or 2022.
2). Search a single site
You can restrict your search to a single website by using the site: operator, so for example if you wanted to look for Technology content on HostOnNet you might type Technology site:hostonnet.com
3). Get definitions
The define: operator, as you might expect, gives you definitions — so define:search gives you the dictionary definition of search and synonyms such as hunt, look, scout and dig.
4). Do sums and currency conversions
You probably already know that Google will carry out sums if you type them in the search box — 4*15 gives you 60, 2*2*3*4 gives you 48 and an on-screen calculator and so on — but it can also convert units and currencies. Convert 200 USD to rupee converts dollars to rupees, and you can also convert measurements such as distance, weight and temperature.
5). Get essential info, fast
You can quickly check the details on Google Type weather and you’ll see the current conditions and a seven-day forecast; add the name of a town to get the weather report from a different location.
Type flight BA1491 to see the status of a flight, time New York to see the local time in that location, sunrise London to see when the sun’s coming up or GOOG to see Google’s stock information.
6). Search by location
If you type a generic term such as “Italian restaurant”, Google will show you results in and around your current location along with a map showing where they are. If you’d rather be more specific, enter the postal code at the end of your query.
7). Filter your image search
Image filterImage search often throws up seemingly unrelated pictures, so filter your searches. Some terms produce all kinds of search results, so for example an image search for “heather” brings you plants, Heather Graham and Heather from EastEnders.
Google will offer to filter those results for you — so for example our search for heather gives us the options “plant”, “flower”, “eastenders”, “scottish” and so on.
You can use the Search Tools button to filter by size, colour, type — such as photos of people or illustrations, time and whether you can use the photos without payment.
Remember your operators too: heather — graham produces a screen full of Heathers but no Heather Graham.
8). See sites that aren’t online
Google’s cache keeps copies of sites it’s looked at, so if they’re down you can still see them by using the cache: operator — so cache:hostonnet.com would display hostonnet if for some reason our server wasn’t working. The same operator can sometimes catch sneaky “ninja edits”, where sites correct appalling, offensive or hilarious mistakes: you’ll often find the uncorrected original in the cache.
9). See what’s on
Fancy a film? Movie times Delhi tells you what’s on in that particular city, and if you use a specific cinema name such as movie times PVR Saket you’ll see what’s on in that particular cinema.
10). Use your voice
If you’re using Chrome, Android or the Google iOS app, you can search by voice: press or click on the microphone icon and tell Google what you’re looking for.
11). Check spellings
Not sure how to spell something? Type it into the search box and unless you really mangle it, Google will show you the correct spelling, its definition, and synonyms you might find easier to spell.
12). Filter your web search
If you click on Search Tools you’ll see four filtering options: The country, so for example in India you can search anywhere or limit your results to Indian websites; the date and/or time of publication, ranging from the last hour to the last year; by reading level; and whether Google should use your current location.
13). Find out what links to what
It’s easy to discover who’s linking to your site, or to any other page you want to know about: Just use the link: operator, link:techradar.com tells you who’s linking to us.
14). Find similar sites
Here’s another handy operator: Related. This one helps you find pages that are similar to one you already know about, so for example related:hostonnet.com tells you about our sister sites and some of our rivals.
15). Get nutritional information
Bacon Tofu google tipsWhat a surprise – bacon isn’t as healthy as tofu
Some food-related searches will display nutritional information, so looking for chocolate cake will display the calories, nutrients, vitamins and fat in a typical recipe.
Where it gets clever is when you tell Google to compare things, such as compare apples and oranges or compare bacon and tofu.
16). Search between two numbers
You can restrict Google’s search to a specific number range by using two dots, such as 1914..1918 or $250..$350. Annoyingly the financial one doesn’t recognise UK pounds: if you type £100..£150 you’ll get results in the $100-$150 range instead.
17). Find specific files
The filetype: operator enables you to search for specific kinds of file, such as Word documents or PDFs. Google indexes most things, so it’s just a matter of dropping the dot from the file extension and searching for filetype:xml, filetype:svg or filetype:cs. It’s important to note that Google only searches for the file extension, so an XML document that isn’t saved with the .xml extension won’t show up in a filetype:xml search.
18). Search Apps
You can bring Google’s search powers to the world of smartphone apps by clicking More > Apps at the top of the results page. That’s particularly handy for Android users, as Android can install apps you select from the Google Play website using your desktop browser.
19). Customise your search settings
Google enables you to customise your search results in several ways. You can use SafeSearch to filter explicit results (and lock it so the kids can’t go in to your search settings and switch it off again), turn Google’s instant results off, increase the number of results you get per page and make selected search results open in a new window when you click on them.
20). Personalise your search settings
If you let it, Google can record your search history and provide access to it on any device. There are several benefits to doing so: You will get more relevant results because Google knows more about you, you’ll get better search predictions, and you can search your history for stuff you’ve looked for previously.
Google even organises it into categories such as shopping, news, images and travel. The downside, of course, is that it also records anything dodgy or embarrassing you might have looked for.
21). Translate from one language to another
Translate – Google tipsNow you can quickly offer flowery insults in any language. Need to translate something in a hurry? Just type translate language A language B (where language A is the language you’re translating from and language B the language you’re translating to) and you’ll see a big friendly translator at the top of the page.
22). See what others are searching for
Google Trends shows you what others in your country are searching for, with occasionally puzzling results: at the time of writing the UK is interested in Boris Johnson, FIFA 15 and Vitamin D. Google even provides a screensaver that shows you real-time searches – presumably with filtering to screen out the scary stuff.
23). See Google’s best doodles
If you click I’m Feeling Lucky without entering any search criteria Google will take you to its collection of doodles, the customised logos it uses to mark important dates
24). Uncover Easter eggs
Monster – Google tipsTravel in style, or at least pretend to with Google Maps. If you search for google in 1998 you’ll see Google as it was when it first launched. It’s not the only Google Easter egg: searching do the harlem shake in YouTube makes the screen dance while do a barrel roll will spin the screen around. In maps, getting directions from Fort Augustus to Urquhart Castle in Scotland enables you to travel by Loch Ness Monster.
25). Do everything in a single screen
Google’s Advanced Search page enables you to use many of its most useful features without having to remember the operators that make them work – so you can enter number ranges, specify the exact words to look for, filter by language, date, reading level, file type or usage rights, restrict your search to a particular site or domain… you get the idea.