How to use Google Search more efficiently

Aqilah Rahman

Google Search is amazing. We can find practically anything on the Internet just by filling in a text field and Google will returns millions or even billions of search results.

However, because of the sheer amount of information available online, it can be tricky to get the exact information that we want.

Here’s a list of some useful Google Search tips to get better results.

FIND SPECIFIC FILETYPES

Need to find documents online? You can look for files of specific types by typing the filename followed by “filetype:” and the file format you want. There should be no space after the colon in “filetype:”.

Example: asean investment report 2019 filetype:pdf

We can also look for files in various other formats such as Microsoft Word (docx) and Excel (xlsx).

EXCLUDE WORDS IN SEARCH RESULTS

We can filter out irrelevant results by adding a hyphen just before the search term we want to leave out.

This method is useful when we have words with multiple meanings.

For example, if we want to find out how to install actual windows instead of the Windows operating system, we can add “-computer” to our search phrase. This tells Google to exclude search results with the word “computer”.

Example: how to install windows -computer

LOOK FOR EXACT PHRASES

To look for an exact phrase, add quotation marks at the beginning and end of the search term.

Example: “giant leap for mankind”

This gives us search results that contain the exact phrase in the specified order. I mainly use this to look for the source of a text excerpt, but we can also use it for other things like identifying movie quotes.

SEARCH ON SPECIFIC WEBSITES

We can search for articles or content on specific websites by typing the search term first, followed by “site:” and the website link.

Example: cheesecake recipe site:foodnetwork.com

This will return search results related to cheesecake recipes on the Food Network website. This method is useful when we want to find content on only one particular website.

SEARCH ARTICLES BY DATE

With Google Search tools, we can look for news on any subject within a specific time frame.

Suppose we want to look for MasterChef articles from the past seven days, we can type “masterchef” in the Google search field, then click on “Tools” just under the search field on the right hand side.

Next, click “Any time” to open the dropdown menu and select “Past week”. This will show MasterChef articles from the past seven days. We can also set a custom date range.

REPLACE UNKNOWN WORDS WITH *

If you want to look up a certain phrase but there are some words you aren’t sure of, use the asterisk (*) character to fill in the blanks. For example, when looking up song lyrics, we can replace the words we don’t know with asterisks.

Example: far away long ago * december

When I tested this out, Google returned Once Upon a December from the movie Anastasia, which is exactly what I was looking for. We can also use this method to look up quotes or phrases if we know some of the words.

FIND AN IMAGE SOURCE

If you have an image saved on your computer and you want to find the source, you can use Google Reverse Image. To do this, go to images.google.com and click on the mini camera icon to upload an image.

If the image is already available online, you can just right-click on the image and select “Search Google for image”.

Aside from identifying an image source, Google Reverse Image Search is also useful for artists to check what websites are using their art without their permission.

BOTTOM LINE

Many of us use Google every day, and it’s worthwhile to learn how to save time using Google Search. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but these tricks do go a long way in terms of efficiency.