Tip & How-To about Computers & Internet

Great Google Secrets

Google is clearly the best general-purpose search engine on the web.

But most people don't use it to its best advantage. Do you just plug in a keyword or two and hope for the best? That may be the quickest way to search, but with more than 3 billion pages in Google's index, it's still a struggle to pare results to a manageable number.

But Google is an remarkably powerful tool that can ease and enhance your Internet exploration. Google's search options go beyond simple keywords, the Web, and even its lesser-known options.

Syntax Search Tricks
Using a special syntax is a way to tell Google that you want to restrict your searches to certain elements or characteristics of web pages. Google has a fairly complete list of its syntax elements at www.google.com/help/operators.html

Here are some advanced operators that can help narrow down your search results.

Intitle: at the beginning of a query word or phrase (intitle:"Three Blind Mice") restricts your search results to just the titles of web pages.

Intext: does the opposite of intitle:, and so forth.
Intext: is perfect when what you're searching for might commonly appear in URLs. If you're looking for the term HTML, for example, and you don't want to get results such as www.mysite.com/index.html.

Link: lets you see which pages are linking to your web page or to another page you're interested in. For example, try typing in link:http://www.mysite.com.

Try using site: (which restricts results to top-level domains) with intitle: to find certain types of pages. For example, get scholarly pages about Mark Twain by searching for intitle:"Mark Twain"site:edu. Experiment with mixing various elements; you'll develop several strategies for finding the stuff you want more effectively. The site: command is very helpful as an alternative to the mediocre search engines built into many sites.

Swiss Army Google
Google has a number of services that can help you accomplish tasks you may never have thought to use Google for. For example, the new calculator feature (www.google.com/help/features.html#calculator) lets you do both math and a variety of conversions from the search box. For extra fun, try the query "Answer to life the universe and everything."

Let Google help you figure out whether you've got the right spelling-and the right word-for your search. Enter a misspelled word or phrase into the query "Answer to life the universe and everything."

Let Google help you figure out whether you've got the right spelling-and the right word-for your search. Enter a misspelled word or phrase into the query box (try"three blind mice") and Google may suggest a proper spelling. This doesn't always succeed; it works best when the word you're searching for can be found in a dictionary. Once you search for a properly spelled word, look at the results page, which repeats your query. (If you're searching for "three blind mice," underneath the search window will appear a statement such as Searched the web for "three blind mice." You'll discover that you can click on each work in your search phrase and get a definition from a dictionary.

Suppose you want to contact someone and don't have his phone number handy. Google can help you withb that, too. Just enter a name, city, and state. If a phone number matches the listing, you'll see it at the top of the search results along with a map link to the address. If you'd rather restrict your results, use phonebook: for residential listing or phonebook: for business listings. If you'd rather use a search form for business phone listings, try Yellow Search (www.buzztoolbox.com/google/yellowsearch.shtml).

Extended Googling
Google offers several services that give you a head start in focusing your search. Google Groups (http://groups.google.com).

Indexes literally millions of messages from decades of discussion on Usenet. Google even helps you with your shopping via two tools: Froogle
CODE (http://froogle.google.com),

Which indexes products from online stores, and Google Catalogs
CODE (http://catalogs.google.com),

which features products from more 6,000 paper catalogs in a searchable index. And this only scratches the surface. You can get a complete list of Google's tools and services at www.google.com/options/index.html.

You're probably used to using Google in your browser. But have you ever thought of using Google outside your browser?

Google Alert
monitors your search terms and e-mails you information about new additions to Google's web index. (Google Alert is not affiliated with Google; ti uses Google's Web services API to perform its searches.) If you're more interested in news stories than general web content, check out the beta version of Google News Alerts.

More Google API Applications

Staggernation.com offers three tools based on the Google API. The Google API Web Search by Host (GAWSH) lists the Web hosts of the results for a given query (www.staggernation.com/gawsh/).

when you click on the triangle next to each host, you get a list of results for that host. The Google API Relation Browsing Outliner (GARBO) is a little more complicated: You enter a URL and choose whether you want pages that related to the URL or linked to the URL (www.staggernation.com/garbo/).

Click on the triangle next to an URL to get a list of pages linked or related to that particular URL. CapeMail is an e-mail search application that allows you to send an e-mail to google@capeclear.com with the text of your query in the subject line and get the first ten results for that query back. Maybe it's not something you'd do everyday, but if you cell phone does e-mail and doesn't do web browsing, this is a very handy address to know.

Good luck!

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