As a gateway to information and entertainment, Google can tell you a lot, especially if you’re savvy with search.
In my early years exploring the wonders of the internet, I remember spending ages trying to find the search results I was looking for. Over time, I learned a lot of helpful tricks that made the process easier.
So to save you the trouble, I put together this list of 23 simple Google search tricks that you might not already know about. Some are helpful, some are fun, and knowing them will definitely make you smile!
#1 Narrow Your Search with Quotation Marks
Using quotation marks was one of the first Google search tricks I ever learned. It’s a lifesaver if you’re trying to find very specific results.
For example, say your favorite quote is from one of the Godfather movies, but you can’t remember which one.
You could just search Google for: If anything in this life is certain, if history’s taught us anything, it’s that you can kill anyone.
But those words might bring up a lot of irrelevant results.
Instead, throw some quotes around them:
“If anything in this life is certain, if history’s taught us anything, it’s that you can kill anyone.”
And all results refer to the Godfather Part II. Question answered.
Quotation marks are also helpful if you’re searching for a common name that’s spelled in a non-traditional way, like “Gennifer Smith” instead of “Jennifer” (yes, people really do sometimes spell it like that).
Google uses artificial intelligence and other factors to try to display the most ‘relevant’ pages possible. That’s why Google will include the traditional spelling in results, unless you use quotation marks.
#2 Always Know What Day It Will Be
Every once in awhile I get an important piece of correspondence that will say something like:
“Please respond within 90 days.”
Okay… today’s March 12th, and I’m not a calendar whiz. So when exactly is that?
Google can help out. Just type in “What day is it in 90 days.”
Friday, June 10th!
Google really does know everything:
#3 Search for a Word in the Body, Title, or URL of a Page
Sometimes, you’re not interested in a page unless your keyword appears in the body, title, or text of the page.
Instead of wasting your time sifting through results, you can tell Google exactly what you’re looking for using these qualifiers:
For example if I search Google for intitle:tesla, it will only display results with “Tesla” in the title:
#4 Synonym Search
Google prides itself on displaying the most specific, relevant results possible, but sometimes, you want your search to be more general.
This is easy enough to do by including synonyms for your keyword in search results. Just use the tilde (~), and Google will show results using synonyms for the word immediately following it.
For example, ~inexpensive would bring up results for “inexpensive,” “cheap,” “affordable,” and “low cost.”
Just make sure there’s no space between the title and the keyword you want synonymous results for:
#5 Specify Unknown Words
Using asterisks within quotes is a lesser-known Google search trick that comes in handy when you don’t know exactly what you’re talking about.
Say I want to search Google for some old song I heard on the radio, but realize I never really knew the lyrics in the first place (this happens a lot).
I just use asterisks in place of the words I’m not sure about:
And Google fills in the blanks to find that Eagle-Eye Cherry song I was looking for!
#6 Turn Your Phone Into a Level
I bet you didn’t know that Google could give you a helping hand with your home improvement.
This one’s super cool:
On your mobile phone, open up a web browser and search Google for “bubble level.” The first thing you see in search results will be a graphic of a yellow bubble that moves around your phone as you tilt the angle:
So if you’re like most of us and never have a level handy when you need one, just turn to Google search! It even shows you the degree of tilt.
#7 Use Google to Spell Check
People say I’m a good writer but I would never pretend to be a good speller (and I know I’m not the only one). Sometimes, I type a difficult word and spell it so terribly wrong that my word processor has no idea what I’m trying to say, or tries to correct the spelling to a different world entirely.
Luckily, Google is way better at decrypting my crazy spellings. Just throw your mystery word in and get the spelling you were looking for:
#8 Eliminate Results Containing Certain Words
Sometimes if your keyword can refer to more than one thing, it’s difficult to get relevant results. If I Google “jaguar” for example, the results are all about the luxury car:
One trick I can use to get around this problem is tell Google to exclude a keyword from search results that doesn’t relate to what I’m interested in by using the minus sign:
#9 Search Within a Site
Some websites have their own search tool so you can find the exact content you’re looking for, though none work as well as Google search.
Google uses 100s of algorithms to understand our search queries, which is why most people agree it’s the most powerful search tool out there.
Still other websites have no search navigation at all, leaving you to sift through the pages to find what you need.
Or, you can just use Google, and limit your results to the domain in question.
Use “site:” with the domain name in Google search to narrow the results.
For example, if I typed in “site:nyt.com Bernie Sanders,” Google will only return results from the New York Times that mentioned Bernie.
#10 Search News Archives
Did you know that Google News isn’t only about the most current stories?
Google News actually has a searchable archive of news from around the world, going back to the mid-1800s:
Knowing this when I was in college would have saved me a lot of time going to the library for my research papers.
#11 Use Google as a Calculator
If you need to do some math, don’t worry about opening up your calculator app or widget.
Just type it into Google.
And the cool thing about this one is that you don’t even need to hit “search” to get your answer:
But if you do, here’s what happens:
Then you can use Google’s built-in calculator for whatever calculations you need.
It can even help you with Geometry:
#12 Get Either Or Results
Did you know that Google automatically assumes the word “and” between all the terms in your search query?
So if you’re searching for “online flight simulators,” Google assumes you want results that include “online” AND “flight” AND “simulators.”
But sometimes, you don’t necessarily want results that include all the keywords. For example, say you want to cyber-stalk an old flame.
Her name was Michelle Benson back in high school, but you knew she got married at some point and changed her name to Michelle Michaels. Just type your query like this:
Now, Google knows you’re not searching for Michelle AND Benson AND Michaels, but Michelle Benson OR Michelle Michaels.
#13 Find an Alternative
Google is a commonly used tool to help people compare products, services, apps, popular websites, political candidates and more.
Just type in “Apple vs Android” to get relevant comparisons between the two.
But here’s the cool thing:
You can actually use that same idea to find alternatives to whatever you’re searching for. Here’s what I mean:
Say I want to start using an investing app, but the only one I know about is Robinhood. So I type “Robinhood vs” into Google search and see the suggested searches that come up:
Google is all about relevance, so they want to suggest the comparisons that make the most sense. Now I have 5 other investing options to check out.
You can use the same trick to compare just about anything!
#14 Find Related Sites
If you like a website a lot and want to find a similar one, it’s super easy to do with Google. Use “related:” followed by the website URL.
For example, I like Mashable, but what other social news sites are there?
#15 Learn Random Facts
You trivia junkies know who you are. You get a little buzz from remembering small factoids, or get bored and just want to learn something to pass the time.
Again, Google can help!
Just type “fun facts” into Google and that’s exactly what you’ll get. Here’s one about the strength of ants:
Then just click “ask another question” to get more fun, random information. You also get the same results by typing “I’m feeling curious.”
#16 Reverse Image Search
They say pictures are worth 1000 words. And sometimes, you just don’t have the words to describe the picture you’re looking for.
When you go to Google Images, just click on the search button (the magnifying glass). Google will display a little microphone and camera.
Click the camera, and upload an image that looks similar to what you want to search for.
Google algorithms have the technical know-how to scan your image and return similar results. Just make sure you don’t mind the image you uploaded ending up in the webosphere for good.
#17 Get the Weather
Want to know what the weather right now is like in New York? Just type “New York Weather” into Google and this will be your first result:
Maybe you’re specifically concerned about whether or not it’s going to rain. So type in: “Will it rain today in New York”:
The results are now customized to show you the chances of rain hour-by-hour.
#18 Speak Your Searches
Ever noticed the little microphone that appears next to the Google search bar?
Yep, Google allows you to speak your searches.
This is a great tool for people who can’t type, or have difficulty spelling.
Or, there are those of us who just like to talk.
#19 Search for Specific File Types
If you ever want your search results to include just one type of file, use the “filetype:” qualifier, e.g. filetype:pdf or filetype:doc.
When researching my writing topics, I like to get case studies and whitepapers that I can save offline and read later, so I just include the filetype:PDF qualifier with my keywords. Very useful for defining a content strategy for a local seo company:
#20 Search For People on Google Images
Sometimes, if you’re trying to find a specific person whose face you recognize, it’s easier to search for them on Google Images, especially if they have a common name.
But that method can be problematic if the person has a name that also corresponds to real-world objects or places, like “Flora.”
Luckily, you can fix this problem by adding “&imgtype=face” to your search, so the only results Google returns are of actual people.
#21 Define Anything
If you’re looking to define a word, you can download a giant dictionary app or navigate to an online dictionary.
Or, you can just type “define” and the word into Google:
… and get your answer without even visiting a website.
#22 Use Google as a Timer
Baking brownies while writing a research paper? You’re going to need a timer. That’s another problem Google can help you with.
Just type “set timer for 45 minutes” into search:
Google will automatically start a timer for you that will ring when the clock runs out. It works as a stopwatch too!
#23 Get Time Based Search Results
I wish I knew about this trick years ago.
Sometimes, you want only the most recent results to show up in your search.
For example, say I want some blogging tips, but NOT from 2007.
Not a problem!
I just search for “blogging tips,” then click “Search tools” and “Any time.”
Then I can select the range of page publication dates I want.
Did you enjoy my list of Google search tricks?
Google is an awesome tool, but it gets even better if you know all the unique ways you can use it. I wrote this post so you can learn some new tricks to help you on your efforts to explore the internet.
Know if any other cool tricks? Tell me about them in the comments. And if you liked the post, please share!