You’ve probably used Google thousands of times. But most Google users don’t know about the enormous array of built in search tools and custom search capabilities that Google provides.
But first, a bit about how Google works
Google is by far the most popular search engine on the Web today, and it’s free. Why is Google free? Simple: Google makes nearly all of their revenue from advertisements.
It works like this: Google is constantly building a vast database about you: your web surfing habits, what you search for, where you live, work, and play, where you log on—almost all by inference, by connecting the dots between the breadcrumbs you leave behind in your online habits. This information is invaluable to advertisers, and they’ll pay good money to display ads that are closely targeted to you. If you’ve used Google much, you’ve probably had the “holy cow, how did they know to display that ad?” feeling from time to time.
In other words—Google’s product isn’t a search engine or ads. Google’s product is you. Google sells you to advertisers. In exchange for all this free information you unwittingly provide about yourself, Google offers you powerful search tools.
The top 5 Google shortcuts
- Filetype: To find specific types of files. For example, publishing filetype:pdf will return links to documents about “publishing” that are in PDF format.
- Intitle: To search for documents that have a specific word in the title. For example, intitle:publishing (the colon is required) will return pages that have the word “publishing” in their title the colon is required.
- Author: To search for an author by name. For example, author: “john grisham” (be sure to include the quotes) will return pages about the author John Grisham.
- Define (quick dictionary search): For example, define publishing will return the definition of the word “publishing”.
- Site: For example, publishing site:techsavvywriter.com will return all pages about publishing, but only from the site techsavvywriter.com.
Search scholarly works
Google Scholar is a version of Google that helps you search scholarly works (journals, papers, etc.) for specific information.
Search the news
Google provides an easy way to search the latest global news for specific information.
Search public data
A powerful database of publicly available data like censuses, World Health Organization data, and more.
Search Web trends
Google Trends is a little-known (and powerful) tool that displays details and a graphical plot of how often a specific search term was used in a specified time period.
To use Google to search only blogs, just enter http://www.google.com/blogsearch.
Search for Books
Of course, there’s a Google method for searching for books (and magazines): http://books.google.com/. The bad news: the book search feature will often steer you towards books on Google Play, Google’s self-proclaimed “world’s largest e-Bookstore”.
Enter the tracking number of your FedEx, UPS or USPS package, and Google will show you the latest information on its whereabouts.
To see when the sun’s rising or setting in any city, just enter “sunrise” or sunset” followed by the name of the city. For example: sunrise Pittsburgh.
The master shortcut
If you don’t want to remember all of these, many of them are part of Google’s Search Features page at http://www.google.com/help/features.html. If you’re in a hurry, I recommend you start there.