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Summary:

A few weeks ago, I wrote “10 Simple Google Search Tricks.” It turned out to be a popular article, and plenty of readers wrote comments and emailed me their own favorite tricks, so I thought I’d compile a few of the most useful of them here.

A few weeks ago, I wrote “10 Simple Google Search Tricks,” prompting countless readers to send in their favorite ways of finding info using the search behemoth’s service. As I’m not one to let a good tip go to waste, I’ve compiled nine of the most useful ones here:

  1. Use quote marks to search for exact phrases. Googling “simon mackie” only returns pages that contain my name, while searching without the quotes will return pages that contain “simon,” “mackie” and “simon mackie.” So quotes can help to really narrow down results.
  2. Use the wildcard operator to fill in the blanks. Use the wildcard operator (*) as a placeholder for a word (or words) in your search query — combine it with quote marks and it becomes even more powerful. For example, try “A * on both your houses.” You can use more than one wildcard in your search query, too, although the more you use the harder you’ll make it for Google to return a good result. Note that the wildcard can only act as a placeholder for whole words, not parts of words.
  3. Track a package. Enter a USPS, UPS or FedEx tracking code to find out where your package is.
  4. Track a flight. Type in a flight number to get its arrival/departure status.
  5. Get a stock quote. Type in a stock ticker symbol to get its price, together with a chart — for example, try GOOG. Some prices are delayed, some are real-time, depending on the exchange.
  6. Get quick conversions of pretty much anything. Not only can Google do currency conversions, it can quickly convert other things, too, like imperial measurements into metric. For example, try 1 mile in kilometers, 1/2 cup in teaspoons (useful for cooking) or 1MB in KB.
  7. Find out what movies are showing in your city. Search for “movies in” followed by your city (for example, movies in Bristol) to get a list of movies showing near you, with links to reviews and showtimes.
  8. Use Google’s cache to retrieve the previous version of a page. If a page has been altered or deleted, or the site hosting the page goes down, you might still be able to get the previous version of the page from Google’s cache — just click on the “cached” link next to the search result.
  9. Get the weather forecast. Type “weather” followed by your zip code to get the current weather and a forecast for the next few days. For example, try weather 94111.

What are your favorite Google search tricks?

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  1. Brian Ussery Monday, May 3, 2010

    I like time myself, ie [time atlanta]

  2. The quick conversions is a real time saver

  3. And here I thought you might give me something I didn’t know already. Oh well…

  4. define:word gives meaning

  5. Neil Nuttall Tuesday, May 4, 2010

    Just did a quick test using Bing. They seem to work there too (if you happen to care)

  6. Also i use google as a calculator, just search for 3+(8.5^2), or whatever you want.

  7. define: word

  8. define: word is too complicated for a simple user.
    I use what is word

  9. I have Bing as my default search (but fall back to Google occasionally) Most of these tricks I already knew about and they also work for Bing, but the “track a package” shortcut was new for me. I do a lot of shipping so this one caught my eye.

    I just tried tracking a USPS package. Bing choked on it, but Google handled it no problem.

    1. And it is ironic that it’s far easier to track a UPS package with Google than with UPS.com. With UPS, you’ve got to start by picking what country your in, then you have to…

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