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Ten essential tips for searching the Web

Joe Kissell | Oct. 16, 2013
Searching for the right results among the billions of pages on the Web? You don't need just a search engine; you also need some know-how.

Finding just the right page among the billions on the Web requires not only a search engine but also a bit of know-how. Here is a selection of my favorite tips for searching the Web.

1. Search for a phrase
To search for an exact, complete phrase and not just its constituent words, put it in quotation marks. For example, instead of typing at sunrise on my birthday type "at sunrise on my birthday". The number of hits will shrink dramatically, as you'll see only pages that include that exact phrase.

2. Be more specific
If you want to find articles about managing bookmarks in Safari on an iPhone running iOS 7, don't search for just manage bookmarks. Throw all those terms in: manage bookmarks safari iphone ios 7. The more information you provide, the more useful your results are likely to be.

3. Exclude a word
To make sure your search for information on the connector your iPhone uses doesn't return matches about an atmospheric phenomenon or a fictional race car, put a hyphen (-) in front of terms that should disqualify a page from appearing in Google's results--for example, lightning -thunder -storm -McQueen.

4. Use your own words

If you visit Google.com in Google Chrome, you can click the microphone icon on the right side of the search field and speak your search terms out loud. As soon as you finish talking, Google displays matching results and sometimes offers a summary aloud.

5. Try an advanced search
If you want much more control over your searches, such as specifying which geographic regions to search in, how recently created a page should be, or the page's reading level, go to Google's Advanced Search page or, after performing a basic search, click the gear icon in the upper-right corner of the results page and choose Advanced Search from the pop-up menu.

6. Convert, calculate, and more
You can also use Google to find all sorts of information besides lists of webpages. Google can handle calculations (try 104 * 36.8), currency conversions (185 dollars in euros), time-zone conversions (time in Paris), weather forecasts (weather San Diego), word definitions (define: pedantic), and a great many other things.

7. Learn from the source
A great place to learn dozens of additional tips for using Google is Google itself. For example, Google's "Basic search help" and "Tips & Tricks" pages have loads of tricks and shortcuts you can use.

8. Simplify Google URLs
One thing I've come to dislike about Google, however, is that the links on its results page are all Google URLs that redirect you to the original page. For example, if you search for macworld, the first hit is for www.macworld.com. However, if you try to copy the URL, it'll look something like this: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&ved=0CCwQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.macworld.com%2F&ei=YL48UrOEPYbyQGA3ICIBg&usg=AFQjCNF8KJ4binisdLIm41H5qMrvHdQgw

 

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