Google Search Secrets

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9 Google Search Secrets

Google Search Secrets: Introduction
Everyone knows how to pop a search term into Google and hit the search button, but very few realize the true power of Google.  In this short-but-revealing letter, I'll list 9 little-known facets of Google that are guaranteed to make even the most astute searcher a better searcher.  A few of the topics that will be covering are how to search FTPs with Google; how to block sites from your search results; and how to search Google Docs.  If you're an advanced Google search novice, that's okay!  And now, without any further ado, here are 9 Google Search Secrets.

1. How To Search For Documents On Google Docs

If you're a document hunter like me, then you would undoubtedly enjoy searching Google Docs.  The only problem is, if you visit the main Google Docs URL, you can only search documents of your own, or documents that have been shared with you.  Fortunately, however, there's a nice little workaround: site:docs.google.com

All you need to do at that point is enter the search terms you're interested in finding documents about and voila!  For example, if you want to search for documents about Windows 7 on Google Docs, then you could try a query like this: site:docs.google.com "Windows 7"

2. How To Search FTPs With Google

You may be aware of the fact that Google indexes FTPs, but did you know you can prefix your search query with a little something that will show only results from FTPs?  Until Google makes this an option (if they ever make it an option), here's how you do it with advanced operators: inurl:ftp -inurl:(http|https).

If you're interested in searching FTPs, I highly recommend reading ZDNet's "Search ninja part 4: How to search FTPs with Google" post, where I dive deeper into this functionality and offer a couple of great FTP search engine alternatives!

3. Reverse Image Search: The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread

Go to the Google Images home page and click the little camera icon to the left of the search button.  What you will see is a menu that asks you either for a URL or to upload an image.  So, what good does that do you?  Well, have you ever seen a tiny picture that you wanted to see full-size?  Simply save that image or copy the URL to it, follow the prompt after you click that camera icon, then revel in the joy that is reverse image search!

That is just one of the many applications reverse image search is good for.  Check out this post, for additional clarity and uses of reverse image search.

4. Google verbatim: Pure, Uninfluenced Search Results

Tired of seeing search results that are filled with personal recommendations, auto-corrections, and more?  Google quietly launched the "verbatim" tool a number of months ago to help you alleviate that.  To use it, after you perform a search, on the left, you will see "More search tools".  Click it and it will drop down to reveal the "verbatim" tool.  Once you click "verbatim", your search results will refresh and yield unfiltered, uninfluenced search results.  For more about the "verbatim" tool, click here to read Google's official announcement of it.

5. Define Words On The Fly With The Define: Operator

Need to know the definition of a word?  Simply head to Google and use the "define:" operator!  For example, if you wanted a definition of Bumbershoots, you would search for the following: define:bumbershoots.

6. How To Quickly Copy Direct Links In Google With Firefox

One of my pet peeves with Google is that I can't just right-click on a link and choose "save target as."  This is especially annoying when sifting through mountains of .ppt, .pdf, .doc, and similar document/presentation file types.  As such, I use a little trick with Firefox to allow me to quickly copy the full, direct link.

In the image above, you can see the title of the result that I have highlighted in addition to "oc" just beneath it.  The trick is to start from where the "oc" is (which will be something other than "oc," if you're using a search result of your own) and highlight that one word plus the title of the search result.  Then, you right-click on the word (not on the title of the search result) and select "View Selection Source" from the drop-down box.  Firefox will take you straight to the section of code where the full link is displayed.  You can then copy it and do with it whatever you so desire.

7. Google's Search Engine Is Better Than Yours

Put simply, I find that Google knows most Web sites better than they know themselves.  As such, I rarely ever use the built-in search functionality of a Web site.  Instead, I opt for the site: advanced operator to filter results by the site I'm interested in searching, then follow it with the keywords I'm interested in.  For instance, if you want to search Microsoft's site for .pdf documents containing "Windows 7," you can simply run the following search query: site:microsoft.com filetype:pdf "Windows 7".

To note, Microsoft isn't the best example to give in this case, because they integrate their own Web search engine (Bing) to provide search functionality, as opposed to some small-time custom search built into only their site.  Even so, the point remains!

8. Finding Educational Documents With Google

How often do you use the Internet to educate yourself?  For me, the answer is "frequently".  As such, one little trick I've come up with to dig up some great educational content is to search .edu domains (which belong to educational establishments).  Let's say you're interested in learning about C++ programming and you would like to see "Introduction to C++" types of documents/presentations.  All you have to do is perform a search query similar to the following: site:edu intitle:"Introduction to C++" filetype:pdf.

Don't forget that there are many document/presentation file types you can search for as well!  A variation of the search query above, to include additional file types, is as follows: site:edu intitle:"Introduction to C++" filetype:pdf | filetype:ppt | filetype:doc.

9. Cached View: Not Gone, Just Buried

Remember the cached view?  I've met a few people who were upset because they thought Google had completely done away with it!  Hopefully, that will never be the case, but, for now, the "cached" functionality is still alive and kicking -- it's just slightly buried.  Once you perform a search, if you hover over the search result you're interested in seeing a cached view of, you will see a rectangular box with two right-facing arrows appear.  If you hover over it, you will see a site preview that shows you where on the page your search term is located.  Additionally, for most pages, you will see a "Cached" link.  Click it, and you'll be taken to the page as it's cached on Google's end.

So, there you have it!  9 Google Search Secrets to help make you a better searcher (or, at least, to help you improve your search results).  If you found this helpful, please spread the word.  Thanks for reading and happy searching!

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