Tips and Tricks to Get the Most Out of Google

Chances are good you visit Google’s website at least a few times each day to search for a wide range of things. Did you know the smart folks at Google have baked a number of extra tools right into the search bar? Here are some tips for going beyond basic search queries and turning Google into your very own information Swiss Army knife.

Calculator. Enter a math problem and Google will run the numbers for you.

Dictionary. Type “define (your word)” and you’ll get back a definition of your word and the opportunity to translate the word into a range of languages.

Weather forecasts. Enter “weather in (your city)” to get today’s forecast and a seven day planning forecast.

Timer. Type “(one hour, three minute, etc.) timer” and you’ll get a countdown timer you can leave open in a browser tab.

Search tools button. At the top of your search results are choices for web, images, videos, etc. All the way to the right of this row is a Search Tools button. Click this button to refine your search by time, location, ingredients, and other options.

Find an “exact match.” When you enter a multiple word search query, Google may pick certain key words out of your query and provide broader search results than you expected. If you need to be specific, put your search term “in quotes” to get an exact match. “Neil Patrick Harris” focuses on the Broadway and TV actor, but Neil Patrick Harris without quotes gives you information on the actor but also returns results for a few other people named Neil Harris and even someone named Harris Neil.

Search by file type. You will need to know the three character file type extension (jpg, doc, pdf, gif, etc.) for this trick to work. For example, if you’ve got a big presentation coming up and want to review published PowerPoint decks to get some inspiration, enter your topic and then add filetype:ppt to the end of your query and your results will be restricted to PowerPoint files.

Single site search. To narrow Google’s power down to a single site, type “site:(SiteName).com” and then add your search terms and you’ll get results only from that web address.

Stock ticker. Just enter the symbol (GOOG, SBUX, etc.) and your first result will be the current share price and a performance chart.

Movie show times. “(movie title) show times” will return a schedule of screenings in your area to help you plan your next night out.

Use the minus sign to exclude certain words. A good example of removing certain words are recipes. Green chili in Colorado and New Mexico is traditionally made with pork but a search for “green chili recipes –pork” would give you a ton of green chili recipes that use chicken or are totally vegetarian.

Food name. Type in a specific food and you’ll get a USDA nutritional breakdown for salmon, hamburgers or whatever food you would like to learn more about.

What’s your favorite Google hack? Share your secret weapon in the comments below.

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