For many folks, Google is the front page of the internet. You don’t type Facebook.com into your browser. You just type “Facebook,” and then click the first Google result. Or you do a basic search by tapping in what you’re looking for.
But Google is way more powerful than that. You just have to learn a few of its secret code words, and then you can slice and dice your searches like a pro. No more wading through pages of results to find what you want. Use these tricks, and you’ll almost always get what you want on the first page. You can even ask Google to show you the weather.
Google search operators
These tips use Google’s search operators. These are commands that you add to your search terms in order to narrow the scope of the search. To use one, you just type your search as usual, then type the operator afterwards.
For instance, this is how you tell Google to limit your search to one particular website
Type that into Google (or alternatives like DuckDuckGo), and it will search Cult of Mac for the term “Apple.”
For a complete list of Google’s search operators, check out Joshua Hardwicks’s comprehensive post on the subject at the Hrefs blog. For a sampling of the most useful operators, keep reading!
This one is great. If you click in the URL bar, and add
cache: to the beginning of the URL and hit return, then Google will show you the most recent cached version of a site. This is super handy if a page is down due to excess traffic, or censorship, for example.
intitle: to your search, and Google will search only the titles of web pages. Great to narrow down searches where you remember a few words from a title.
“search term in quotes”
This is a different kind of operator. If you put a word or words in quote, then Google will search for that exact phrase or word. This also works with ambiguous words, where Google might be confused what you actually mean. It’s also a good way to search for known misspellings.
| between terms, and Google will search for either of those terms. This is a rear way to combine search results from two parallel searches. For instance,
dock iPhone OR iPad will return a search of both iPad docks and iPhone docks.
This is an odd but very handy operator. You use it without an actual search term. So, if you type
related:cultofmac.com, then Google will show you a list of sites which are related to this one. I like this when researching a subject I don’t know much about. If you find one good source, you can quickly discover more.
And finally, a few quick tricks. Try any of the following to get info about a specific thing:
As I said, Joshua Hardwick’s post contains a lot more operators – -42 of them in fact. Go check it out.