Before the dawn of public internet in the late eighties and early nineties, information was a lot harder to come by. If you had a question that needed answering, your best bet was to read a book or ask a librarian.
These days, finding information is as easy as hopping online with a computer, mobile device, or personal assistant like Siri. The new problem is information overload. This makes it harder to locate relevant sources when using a search engine.
If you want to find what you're looking for right away, you'll need some Google search hacks. Read on to learn our top five pro tips to searching Google quickly and accurately.
1. Set Up a Google Account
Before you start surfing the web, it's helpful to set up a Google account—especially if you're working on a research project or collaborating with others. This will give you access to Google Docs, Drive, Sheets, and a Gmail account.
Why is this important for searching the web, you ask? Simple—if you're gathering information, you'll need a place to store it.
Beyond bookmarking pages on your browser, Google's online apps let you store photos, text, and data sheets in the cloud. That means you'll be able to access your findings anytime, anywhere, and from any device—all you have to do is log in.
If you've signed up in the past but can't remember your username or password, visit this site for instructions on Google account recovery.
2. Use Google Scholar
Are you looking for scholarly sources to write a paper for school or give a presentation at work? Want the latest accurate data from health researchers? If so, don't waste your time on Google's general search engine.
Instead, head over to Scholar.Google.com, the search hub for academic and legal resources. Looking up info works the same as the rest of Google. The difference is that the results are all drawn from peer-reviewed articles, scholarly journals, and other official sources.
When searching, you can choose to look through either general articles or case law sources (federal and state courts) by clicking the bubbles below the search bar. You can further refine your search by date and choose to include or exclude patents and citations on the results page sidebar.
3. Advanced Search
When you need to narrow down your results and the normal search bar doesn't cut it, it's time to take advantage of the filters in Google's advanced search. To get there, click the "settings" dropdown menu above your search results. Then, select "advanced search" from the list.
This will take you to a new page that gives you the option to specify the exact results you're looking for. You can filter results by categories including:
- Time last updated
- Type of file
- Usage rights
You can even specify where on the page you'd like Google to look for your search terms and whether you want a similar or exact result.
4. Google Reverse Image Search
Many people think that Google searching is hard when all you have is a picture. In reality, it's fairly simple with Google's reverse image search tool.
Head over to Images.Google.com and click the picture of the camera in the search bar. This tool lets you search the web with an image instead of text.
If you have the photo in question saved to your computer, you can upload it to Google. Otherwise, copy and paste the image's URL into the search bar. Google will find other places that picture and ones similar to it appear on the web.
5. Search Operators and Modifiers
Using search operators and modifiers is a great way of searching Google quickly without having to use the advanced search toolbar. These are short words and symbols you add to your normal search, and each one narrows down your results in a different way. Here are a few of them you can start using today:
- @ and # — put the @ or # symbol in front of a term to search social media and hashtags for the term, eg. @cutedogs or #cutedogs
- $ — when put in front of a number, this searches the web for a price, eg. $500 cute dogs
- two periods — searches for a range of numbers or prices, eg. $300..$500 cute dogs
- minus symbol/hyphen — excludes results with a specific search term, eg. cute dogs -pomeranian
- quotation marks — searches for an exact match to anything inside of them, eg. "cute dogs"
- AND/OR — combines two searches into one, eg. cute dogs AND cats, cute dogs OR cats
- related: — searches for websites similar to another one, eg. related:cutedogs.com
- site: — searches one specific website or domain type for your search term, eg. site:youtube.com "cute dogs"
- filetype: — searches for results that are all a specific type of file, eg. filetype:pdf "cute dogs"
- asterisk placeholder — replaces unknown words like when you're searching for song lyrics, eg. "cute * dogs"
- mathematical operators — solve math equations by entering them in the search bar, eg. 5+5*3
If you can't remember these modifiers off the top of your head, use Google's help page for reference.
Use These Google Search Hacks to Find Exactly What You're Looking For
It's easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of information on the web. Thankfully, with these Google search hacks, you can narrow down your results to only the most relevant. When it comes to doing research, using Google the right way will save you loads of time and effort.
Looking for more advice on how to work smarter, not harder, online? Try out the search tips you just learned to find more helpful articles on our site.