Have you been missing some helpful refinements to “Google Search” that are right in front of your eyes?

Working one-to-one with my computer support clients, I often have the opportunity of watching how they really work with their computers. It’s all very well talking to people, giving tips on how to work more efficiently, but there’s no substitute for seeing how people actually do things. One of the things I’ve noticed in this way is that a surprisingly large number of people never use the refinements to Google Search that are right in front of them. When I point them out, a typical reaction is “Oh, I’ve never noticed that before”.

Several times I’ve thought about writing a blog post on this subject, but an everyday computing phenomenon has held me back – things change very often and without warning. I promise you that the Google Search options are still present at 09:15 on Saturday 19/10/2013. If they’ve disappeared by the time this blog is published at 12:30 today, well, c’est la vie in the computing monde.

So, what are these options?

The first thing to note is that they don’t appear until AFTER you’ve keyed in your search term at https://www.google.co.uk and told Google to do an initial search (either by clicking on the search button – the magnifying glass in the blue box – or by pressing the Enter key).

Google Search - Options

Figure 1 – Google Search Options


Then you get the list as shown in Figure 1 directly below the original search term. Let’s go through them:

Web

This is the normal, default, option. It means that Google has searched for results to your search across all types of content and across all websites. You can tell that you’ve just done such a normal web search as the word “Web” is in red and is underscored.

Images

Clicking on this option will change the results of the search to show images that relate to the search term you have already entered. Clicking on any image in the results will display a larger version of the image and more information about its source. Clicking on this larger image takes you directly to the source.

Maps

This will show any maps that Google Search thinks are relevant to your search.

Shopping

Google Search - Shopping

Figure 2 – Google Search – Shopping

This option is possibly being a bit ambitious. To begin with, it takes a stab at where it thinks you are. Despite being in Clapham, Google currently thinks I’m in Cambridge for some reason. To put it mildly, this is going to compromise the suggestions it comes up with for matching the search term with local shopping opportunities. If you’re really stuck for something to do this weekend, you could have a look at this Google page relating to your location.

However, if you do find that the shopping option shows promise in the results it shows, then you can refine your search by taking choices listed down the left side of the screen (category, price, store etc – see Figure 2). Note that the options vary depending upon what type of item Google thinks you are shopping for.

No doubt this is a “work in progress” and will get better as time goes by. Personally, I confess that if I’m using the internet to source something I want to buy then I’m slipping into the habit of just going straight to Amazon. As I was discussing with a client just yesterday, if the High Streets disappear because of Amazon then it will be largely due to the fact that Amazon do a great job and make shopping so much easier.

More

Clicking on this button allows you to refine your search in other ways (see Figure 3).

Google Search - More

Figure 3 – Google Search – More

Search Tools

This offers various refinements to your search results:

  • Any Country or just UK.
  • Any Time or a comprehensive set of selections (useful if you are searching the net for information relating to a specfic occurrence of something that happened within a definable time frame).
  • Reading Level – I’m sure that no-one reading this blog will have much need to filter their Google results by “reading level”! However, Google have now plonked another option here – “Verbatim”. This means that it will return search results EXACTLY matching your search term (instead of applying all its fancy algorithms to try and dish up results that it thinks you might have wanted based on your search term). I can’t see the point of this as they already have a perfectly good way of specifying a “verbatim” search, and that is to enclose your search term in double-quotes.

There you go, then. A quick trawl through some of the options that stare you right in the face when you do a Google search. If nothing else, you can enjoy a frisson of schadenfreude when Google tells you you are in Cambridge instead of London!

© 2011-2018 David Leonard
Computer Support in London
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