How to get more from Google Search

Google logo magnifiedI’ve written blogs before on the subject of googling (see the links at the bottom of this post), but there are ever more ways to use Google more efficiently. From watching my computer support clients at work, it’s clear that Google is a central part of most people’s computing practice, so I hope I’m right in thinking that it’s worth returning to the topic.

There are even a few repeats in the list below. That’s fine as lots of computer practices don’t sink in the first time. Learning how to use a computer is not like riding a bike: lots of practice and repetition is needed before things become habitual. Anyway, here are some more examples of how to use Google to good effect:


You can restrict your search to specific sites:

site:bbc.co.uk daleks

This will search for “daleks”, but only return results from the website www.bbc.co.uk. Note that it is not necessary to quote the “www”.


In theory, you can restrict your results to websites in certain parts of the world:

site:uk daleks

However, I am not sure exactly how Google decides where a website is located. Assuming that it is to do with the domain extension (eg “.uk”) then it is not comprehensive. It doesn’t seem to know, for instance, that a domain ending “.london” is in the UK.


Instead of looking for websites, you can get Google to find files of a particular type that are available on websites

filetype:pdf ip5300

This search will find all pdf files that include “ip5300”. This is a great way to find product manuals online (in this case, my old but excellent Canon ip5300 printer)


Going somewhere new and want to know what to see? Try this:

lincoln attractions

…assuming, of course, that you are going to Lincoln (which everyone should do at least once)


And you might want to know what the weather is going to be like in Lincoln on your forthcoming trip:

weather Lincoln

will show you the weather for the coming week


You can ask Google to look for results that span two numbers by quoting the first number, followed by two dots, followed by the second number:

census 1900..1948

or

mini £5000..£10000


No doubt Google is learning an incredible amount about the kinds of things that people want to know, so it knows just what you are after if you type in “customer service” or “complaints”, for instance, followed by the name of the organisation:

customer service british gas

complaints british gas

I find these particular Google search terms very satisfying as it’s becoming more and more common for organisations not to display such contact information prominently on their websites.


Want to know exactly what a word means?

define tautology

…. but I prefer to go to a British source when it comes to things to do with the English language , so I might type in

site:www.oxforddictionaries.com define tautology

Actually, I wouldn’t do that as I have the OED on my favorites (sic) toolbar


..and if you don’t know how to spell a word, just take a stab at it:

spell recomend


If you don’t keep a calculator close to hand (either in reality or on your computer desktop), Google will do your calculation for you and even pop up a calculator at the top of the results:

12 + 36 / 2

Note, by the way, that computers evaluate division and multiplication (/ and * respectively) before addition and subtraction, so the answer to the above is 12 + 18 = 30. If we wanted to add 12 to 36 and then divide by 2 we would put the 12 + 36 in brackets as follows (to get the answer of 24 instead of 30)

(12 + 36) / 2


Google is good at converting:

37 miles

or

convert 37 miles to km


Want to know what’s on, and when, at your local cinema today?

showtimes at Clapham Picturehouse


and, finally for today, try typing the following into the Google search box:

do a barrel roll


Links to previous posts on the subject of Google Search:

http://www.davidleonard.london/2014/08/09/google-instant-answers/
http://www.davidleonard.london/2013/10/19/some-easy-refinements-in-google-search/
http://www.davidleonard.london/2011/08/20/google-result-types/
http://www.davidleonard.london/2011/06/11/google-search/

© 2011-2019 David Leonard
Computer Support in London
Privacy Policy Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha