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Ask Joe: Google tips and tricks

July 1, 2009

Here are some tips and tricks:

Be specific by using quotation marks (“”)
Don’t be afraid to tell a search engine exactly what you are looking for. For example, if you want information about Windows XP bugs, search for “Windows XP bugs,” not “Windows.” Or even better, search for exactly what the problem is: “I can’t install a USB device in Windows Vista.” You will be surprised at how well this works.

Use the minus symbol (-) to subtract from your search
Sometimes, you want a search engine to find pages that have one word on them but not another word. Imagine you want information about Star Wars but don’t want to be overwhelmed by pages relating to Episode 1. You could search this way: “Star Wars” - “Episode 1.” This tells the search engine to find pages that mention Star Wars and then to remove any that include any mention of Episode 1.

Use ~ to find similar terms
If you are interested in doing a search for a word and all its synonyms, use the ~ key. If you type ~ mobile phone, you’ll get results with the word “phone” as well as “cell,” “cellular,” “wireless,” and a few other related terms.

Use “or” for multiple word searches
If I want to search for information related to an upcoming vacation but still haven’t decided if I’m going to Rome or London, I could type “vacation London or Rome” and get results with the ord “vacation” and either “London” or “Rome.”

Search numerical ranges
Say I want results about Vince Lombardi from 1959 to 1968. Just type “Vince Lombardi 1959 … 1968” and results will only be about him during this time period.

Find meanings
Did you know you could use Google to define words? Type in “define:Internet” for a definition of the Internet.

Search a specific site
Use this trick to find results on a specific website. If I want to find information about engineering from MIT’s website, I type in “engineering site:mit.edu.” This will return references to engineering found on the MIT website.

Use Google for math answers
Did you know that Google can be used to for basic calculator functions? Type in 1+1, 2*4, 25% of 345, 30^3, or sqrt(9) to get the answer.

Conversions
Google can be used to convert units of measurement. Type “cm in foot” to learn that 1 foot = 30.48 centimeters. Type in “32F in C,” “$ in Euro,” “days in fortnight,” “kilometers in miles,” or “mph in speed of light” to get the converted answers for these units.

This articles is printed from the Erickson Tribune