How to Use Google Search Like a Power User

Google Search Operators Phone Samsung Featured

If you’re like most people, you rely on Google every day to answer basic questions and perform research – but you may not always find what you want.

Google’s search engine is powerful and has many specialized operators that you can use to limit what Google looks for or perform special searches. You may be surprised by how much fine control these advanced features offer.

Here are a few little-known tips and tricks that you can use to super-charge your Google searches.

1. Use Advanced Search Operators

Want results from just one site? You can use the site:operator to limit your search. For example, search “site:cnn.com stock market,” and you’ll get related results from just the site you specified.

Google Search Site Operator

Looking for a PDF copy of a report or a slideshow presentation? Google will let you search for files of a specific type – including PDFs, Word docs, rich text files and more – with the filetype: operator.

To use this operator, simply type it plus the filetype you’re looking for, along with your query. For example, “filetype:pdf 2020 report” will return PDFs that include “2020 report” in their body, URL or title.

Google Search Filetype Operator

Google also provides operators that let you tell the search engine to only look for your query in a page’s URL, title or body – the allinurl:, allintitle: and allintext: operators.

For example, if you just want to find the words “Facebook updates” in a page’s body, you can search “allintext: Facebook updates.” A search like “allinurl: Facebook updates” will look just in page URLs, and “allintitle: Facebook updates” will look just in page titles.

Google Search Operators News Facebook Updates

Using the related: operator, you can find sites that are related to a specific URL. For example, searching for “related:amazon.com” will provide sites related to Amazon’s homepage.

You can use this operator to quickly search for concepts related to a site or quickly get a sense of how Google is categorizing a given site, based on the related sites it returns.

If you need to limit your searches even further, there are even more Google search operators that you can use to limit your search.

Need to view a website that’s down or want to take a look at an older version of a site? Google regularly stores digital snapshots of websites that you can access using the related:operator. Simply combine the operator with a URL – as in cache:google.com– and you’ll be taken to a stored version of the website.

You can also search within a range by using the ellipses (two dots: ..) operator. When combined with a pair of numbers, this operator tells Google to only look for results that fall within a certain range.

So, if you’re looking for a speaker within a certain price range, you can perform a search like “Linux $100..$250” to find what you’re looking for.

2. Use the Asterisk Wildcard

In a Google search, an asterisk (*) can stand in for any word. So if you’re looking for a specific phrase but can’t remember one or more words, you can type in the part of the phrase you know and tell Google to sub in anything else by using an asterisk.

For example, the search “war and *” will get you results similar to a search for “war and peace.” You can also use more than one asterisk to sub in for multiple words – a search like “to be or * * be” will return results like the search “to be or not to be.”

Google Search Operators War And Peace

3. Perform Basic Math and Quick Unit Conversions

You can use a Google search to quickly perform basic calculations. Type in a math problem – like “4 x 4 + 10” – and Google will return a search with a calculator widget at the top of the results page. The widget will be pre-filled with your problem and its answer.

Google Search Calculator

The Google calculator can also perform more advanced operations like finding the square root of a number or the sine of a given angle.

You can also use Google to quickly convert from one unit of measurement or currency to another. For example, “3 cm to inches” will return the equivalent length of 3 cm in inches, while “500 USD to GBP” will return the value of 500 dollars in pounds.

Google Search Conversion

4. Search Using Boolean Operators

Need to search for a specific term but your results are clogged up with a related word you don’t need information on? Or do you need a broad search that can include either of two different terms? In cases like these, you can use simple Boolean operators — and, not and or — to make your Google searches more specific.

Searching for “camera AND video” will only return results with both the words camera and video. Searching for “camera OR video” will return results with either of the words.  If you don’t need a word, you can exclude it from your searches with NOT, as in “camera NOT video.”

OR and NOT can also be replaced with specific characters that will perform the same function – the vertical bar (|) for OR and the hyphen or minus sign (-) for NOT.

Google Search Operators Quotes Omit

Be sure to keep your operators capitalized, otherwise Google will treat them as part of what you’re searching for rather than an operator.

Super-Charging Your Google Searches

Even though just about everyone uses Google on a daily basis, not everyone knows about the hidden special features that you can use when you search. With these operators and special search features, you can Google search like a power user.

2 comments

  1. Two dots is not an ellipsis, three dots is; it is used to indicate that something has been left out or removed. Using two dots indicates a range as in 0..9. Otherwise, a good and helpful article.

  2. Dale,
    Yes, you’re right, but Google actually recognizes two dots as a search query as much as it recognizes three dots as a search query. So basically, searching isn’t different when using ellipses or two dots.
    Thanks for your correction!
    Jenna

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