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9 More Simple Google Search Tricks

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?

30 Responses to “9 More Simple Google Search Tricks”

  1. Streak

    One of the more useful things for me is the scale converter. Type in things like:

    • 100 kilograms in lbs
    • 650 meters in miles
    • 35 celcius in kelvin

    Also, search for the following for some lulz:

    • number of horns on a unicorn
    • once in a blue moon
    • the answer to life the universe and everything
  2. I find that using “+” and “-” signs help tremendously to narrow down my search results.

    For instance, if you want to find a torrent client for windows 7 x64but do not want a torrent of windows 7, this works best:
    +”torrent client” +”windows 7″ +x64 -crack -key -keygen -iso +download


  3. Why the relentless google obsession? I would expect that by now, people use more than Google, although admittedly, Google is likely the primary search engine.

    Given that the first page of any google search result links to Wikipedia, and that wikipedia has a search engine and can be configured in your favorite browser’s search toolbar, why wouldn’t you search there directly (and spare the google server farm your query)?

    Similarly, why not have a dictionary and wikitravel and bing and as options of the toolbar?

    Google as a last resort. Not the first. That way, you will not complain (yes, many have done) that Google is making you stupid.

  4. Thanks for the tips! One of my favourites tips (which also works in Yahoo) involes the use of the “site:” identifier. For example if I do the following search: yoga

    …Google generates a list of all of the pages on that contain the word yoga. Very handy – especially for sites that don’t have a search facility.

  5. Bill G.

    Turn your safe search off, select image, enter your favorite actor or actress’ name followed by either nude or topless.

    But I guess we all knew that one too.

  6. Excluding certain words from results.
    My 9-year old son had to do a paper on the Chinese Wall and could not find any good results. He only found restaurants named ‘Chinese Wall’. So when I showed him how to use ‘-restaurant’ he was a happy kid again. And he is now the Google Ninja of his class.

  7. 3-9 aren’t really search tips, just Google features. I was hoping this post would actually dig into some advanced search techniques.

    • Sorry to disappoint, Dan. I would recommend you check out my previous post, but I don’t think that’ll be advanced enough for you. I may well write a more advanced tips post in the future; if I do, it would be titled fairly clearly as such.

  8. Figmo

    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.

    • Alfetta159

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