Saving Time with Search Engines

Have you ever wondered why search engines seem to have all the answers? We really do take them for granted. To find out about a topic just "Google" it and you'll get a million plus web pages with answers, but these results are usually not very helpful. You may not know it but search engines like Google have come up with some easy to use features that can save you time when searching.

The Basic Search

example: Dash and Diane

This is the most common way of searching for something. Just make an entry and you get back some results. It's quick but usually not very accurate. Using Dash and Diane as an example, these words bring up any web page with the three words: "Dash" "and" "Diane" and there are about 1.5 million.

The Refined Search

examples: "Dash and Diane" or "Eddie would go"

If you add quotes around your search criteria then Google will search for web sites which contain this exact phrase. Although similar, the results will be much more specific to what you are looking for. For example, adding quotes to "Dash and Diane" returned just over 29,000 results, far less than without the quotes.

Using Operators: AND, OR

example: Dash OR Diane

This search results with pages containing Dash OR Diane. Using the AND operator will bring up web pages with Dash AND Diane in them. Operators are the only search functions that are case sensitive so be sure to capitalize them.

Using Special Characters

example 1: Dash -Diane

example 2: computer repair ~tips

example 3: "sushi with *"

Did you know that you can use special characters when searching? For example, using - will return sites that mention your first item but not the other. For example, the search Dash -Diane brings up sites that mention Dash but not Diane.

Using a ~ (pronounced "tilde") searches for similar terms. For example, computer repair ~tips will not only search for computer repair tips but computer repair guide, computer repair help and so on.

Lastly, using the wildcard (*) it will look for everything in conjunction to your search criteria. For instance, "sushi with *" will return pages that mention sushi with rice, sushi with fish, sushi with chopsticks and so on.

Other Useful Functions

There are some interesting functions built into Google. Here is a quick list of sample searches you may find useful:

*       define: spam (finds the dictionary definition for spam)

*       site: psychology (searches for the term: psychology)

*       phonebook: Bill Gates (searches the white pages for Bill Gates)

*       movie: Transformers 2 (searches movie reviews, ratings and show times for this movie)

*       HNL to LAS (searches popular airfare sites for prices between Honolulu and Las Vegas)

*       2 cups to oz (converts cups to ounces - great for when you're cooking!)

Note, this conversion will convert between any two units of measurement, eg. miles to kilometers, liters to gallons, etc.

There is so much you can do with search engines if you tap into their inner workings. I encourage you to try some of these search terms for yourself. You never know what you might find on the Internet!

Attila Seress

TIP: The Google search cheat sheet is available at