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Running a Google search has become a part of our everyday lives. Although it’s a tool we use regularly, it has many features that most of us might not know. This article dives into 15 productivity tips to Google like a pro.
Knowing tips and tricks to narrow your searches can be a game changer especially if you’re a content writer, researcher or student. Moreover, the Google search engine has features including a calculator, stopwatch and timer.
Run a basic search
As marketers and advertisers use SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) to optimise their search, we, as searchers, should optimise how we search. Start with a minimal phrase like restaurants near me. If necessary, you can add more words, like the city name and type of cuisine, to narrow your search.
Don’t bother with spelling
Google’s search engine has a spell checker to provide accurate search results despite spelling errors. Similarly, the search results are not case-sensitive, so you need not spend time capitalising your search queries.
Look for quick answers
Google can find answers to everyday questions like the weather forecast, the day Christmas falls on this year, the meaning of a word, and so on.
- Weather – Type in your city or area preceded by weather for a quick weather search. E.g., Weather Mumbai.
- Sports – Run a search by typing in the name of the team you want to know more about, and the results will show you game schedules, scores and more.
- Meaning – Type define before the word you want the meaning for. E.g., define flabbergasted.
- Language Translation – Use Google Translate to find words and phrases in another language. Type in Google Translate in the search bar, or type the word you want to be translated followed by in x language, x being the language you want the word translated in. E.g., girl in Spanish.
- Facts – Search for a place, movie or celebrity to learn quick facts and related information about them.
You can quickly calculate math problems, equations, or tip percentages using the Google search engine.
- Math calculations – Calculate math problems by typing them into the search bar. E.g., 10987*45 or 10987×45 for multiplication. 10987/45 for division and + and – for addition and subtraction, respectively.
- Tip Calculation – If you are at a restaurant and want to calculate a tip percentage on the total bill and then divide it among your friends, type tip calculator in the search bar. Enter your total bill amount, the percentage you want to tip at, and the number of people.
Google provides a fast way to convert metrics like kilometres to miles or currency like euros to dollars.
- Unit Conversions – Type the number of units you want to be converted from one unit to another. E.g., 7 kilometres in miles. You can change the metrics from length to area to speed and more from the drop-down.
- Currency conversions – Type in the amount you want to convert from one currency to another. E.g., 20 dollars in euros.
Timer and Stopwatch
The Google search engine is equipped with a timer and stopwatch.
- Timer – To access the timer, type in set a timer for x minutes, x being the number of minutes you want to set a timer. The results will show you a timer where you can tweak the timer’s duration and reset it, too.
- Stopwatch – If the timer is opened, you will see the Stopwatch tab right next to the Timer tab. Click on that to open the stopwatch feature. Alternatively, type stopwatch in the search bar, and the stopwatch will open directly.
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Narrow down searches using Search Operators
Search operators are prompts or commands you can use to get specific searches. A few special characters or terms before or after your search can help narrow it down. Here are a few you can try out.
- Search a website – Type in site: followed by the website name and the search term or phrase you seek. This will give you search results from that specific website. E.g., site:pinterest.com tech
- Find related content – Type related: followed by a term, phrase or website name: E.g., related:pinterest.com.
- Use AND / OR – To get results about either of the 2 topics, add AND between the terms. E.g., tech and cybersecurity. To get results for both topics, use OR between the terms. E.g., tech or cybersecurity.
- Exclude a search term – Use the – operator before the term you want to exclude from your search query. E.g., tech predictions 2024 -artificial intelligence.
- Narrow down based on time – You can use the BEFORE: or AFTER: functions to get information before or after a specified period. E.g., cyberattacks BEFORE:2019.
Get an Exact match with quotes
When you run a search, Google pulls out several pages that have most of the search terms you typed in. If you notice, some of the search results have Missing:
search term below the result, implying that that particular result does not have one of the terms.
You can encase the term in double quotes on either side to get an exact match of your search term. E.g., “latest technology in cyber security”.
Filter your search
After searching for a term, you will see categories below the search bar. Click on them to find News, Images, Videos and Books related to the search query. When you click on the three dots near More, further options appear like Maps, Shopping, Flights and Finance.
Use the Tools function
You can spot Tools under the search bar toward the right of the screen. Clicking on it allows you to narrow down your search by time and whether you want to see all searches or the verbatim ones.
For results published during a specific time, you can click on the drop-down arrow next to Any time and choose the period or go down to the Custom range and add in the time yourself. After you’ve run the search, you can tap Clear to reset the Tool filters.
Try the Advanced Search
Google is like a pro with Advanced Search. Google offers a separate page to perform a highly customised search for terms and images.
Go to Advanced Search, and type in all the terms and prompts you want to include in your search. You can customise by language, region, file type and several other parameters on the page.
To get specific searches for images, go to Advanced Image Search and enter parameters that will help narrow down your results.
Use Image Search
If you are looking for images, use the Image filter below the search bar after typing in your image search prompts.
Define the resolution and size of the image you are looking for with the operator imagesize: followed by the size or resolution you want: E.g., imagesize:500x500px.
Use the filetype: operator to get a specific file type like png. or jpg. E.g., filetype:pdf
Use Google’s Advanced Image Search page to narrow your search even further.
Reverse image search
If you have an image and you’re looking for its source, go to the main Google search engine page. Click on the image icon at the right side of the search bar and drag and drop your image or upload it from your device. Additionally, you can copy an image URL and paste it into the tab provided.
Google will then run a reverse image search to find the source of the image.
Use voice search
Google search engine offers voice search. Especially useful when using your mobile device while on the go, you can click on the microphone icon next to the Google search bar on the main page and say out loud what you want to search for. Note that you will have to enable microphone permissions to use this feature.
Google Search Labs
This feature will enable you to Google like a pro. Launched in May 2023, Google Search Labs is a new option added to the search engine. You can access the Search Labs by clicking on the test-tube icon at the top right corner of your screen on your laptop or the top left corner of your mobile phone screen on the main search engine page.
- Click on the test-tube icon.
- Toggle the button beside the text, When turned on SGE may appear when you search.
- Tap I agree after carefully reading the pop-up that appears. Then tap Try an example.
This tool provides AI-powered overviews for your searches to help you navigate through information much faster.
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