From Sree's widely acclaimed
workshop on "Smarter
Surfing: Better Use of Your Web Time" (more than 10,000
professionals in eight countries have attended)...
Better Googling: Things You Didn't
Know Google Does
By Sree Sreenivasan,
Tech Reporter & Columbia
Also see: Figuring Out Blogs
& Whatever's Next
When it comes to search engines, most
savvy users swear by Google and use it to start their Web hunts. It's
my default search engine - I go there first. Every time. I have
converted hundreds of people over the years to Google and will continue
to do so, until something better comes along. Of course, I am NOT on
Google's payroll, I just find it the best of the lot. But it won't
necessarily always be first - keep your eyes open for new features on
there’s more too Google - eight years old in Sept. 2006
the simple search function.
Here are some additional Googling tools, along with alternatives that
you should try.
updated: Jan. 22, 2007
Instead of going to Google.com
each time to search, it's much faster to have Google built into your
browser. Several options:
preferred browser for PC or Mac is Firefox
<getfirefox.com>, which already has built-in Google. You
should download the free Googlebar
or the official Google
(the Google Toolbar also works on PC Explorer). Faster searches; pop-up
blocker; highlighting; word find (go directly to a word/phrase on a
sure to get the Cool
Iris extension for Firefox, which lets you preview Google
ALSO: Yahoo toolbar,
<desktop.google.com>: For Windows only - a way to search
your computer's contents faster than any built-in finder function.
Works very well when it comes to searching Word documents, AOL IM
messages, web searches, etc. You can pause it if you don't want what
you're doing to be indexed by Google. The information isn't shared with
Google itself (you know this because it works even if you are offline).
Be sure to read
the FAQ. Mac folks get the same functionality in the
Spotlight search built into Tiger,
the latest version of OSX.
offer similar products for Windows.
<google.com/alerts>: Allows you to receive e-mails as
soon as a phrase you wish to track shows up on either the main Google
Index (web) or on Google News (news). Excellent way to track particular
stories and topics that interest you - including items about you. You
can set up and delete alerts as necessary. For those who need more,
a pay site not affiliated with Google. You
can also do your own ego surfing: create
alerts for your name.
<news.google.com>: Allows you to search 4,500 constantly
updated news Web sites at once. Saves you the trip to various new sites
to find out what's going on. The new personizable version
(see upper right on the page) allows you to layout the page as you like
it, including personalized news searches. eg, I have it set up so that
news I am interested in - India, New York Yankees, New York Jets, golf,
etc - are displayed when I go to the site.
<video.google.com>: Now you can
search transcripts of
certain American TV news programs. Not as good as Nexis transcripts,
but, hey, it's free. Am sure it's coming soon: video clips.
search of just academic
journals and similar publications.
GOVERNMENT SEARCH <usgov.google.com>:
FirstGov.gov as a portal for
all things dealing with the US government, and FedStats.gov. Google now
offers a site with links to government news and search functions.
<print.google.com>: On a regular
Google search, look for
a book icon that allows you to search inside a book. Example: search culture
<maps.google.com>: What's different?
You can click-n-drag
across the maps; fast magnification of specific spots along the map;
satellite and hybrid images - all using Web 2.0
See these Google Maps mashups (web application hybrids):
<calendar.google.com>: Google's version of web
calendaring offers drag-n-drop changes to events and the ability to
synchornize with Gmail and to share with others; another good feature:
ability to import public calendars. I recently switched after five
years with Yahoo's version.
- VIA CELLPHONE
<google.com/sms>: Send text message
to GOOGL (46645) to
receive Google results on your phone.
Send an e-mail to email@example.com
a search term in the subject line - get top 10 Google results via
e-mail. Useful from a Blackberry or similar device.
Google can search pages written in dozens of languages. Also, it can
translate text or Web pages from French, Spanish, German, Italian,
Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Japanese and more to English. Very useful
when looking at foreign news sources.
can use the regular search box to make certain calculations and
conversions. Examples: 2+99= will get you 101; 2*2=
will get you 4. To run conversions, use the following format: 100
miles = ? km or 100 pounds = ? kilos.
Need to convert US dollars into Indian rupees? 1 USD = ? INR. See details.
<gmail.com>: Google's attempt at free e-mail. Instead of
the 2-6 MB of free space that Yahoo and Hotmail used to provide, Gmail
gives you 2,600 MB (and growing) of space (this has already caused
Hotmail and Yahoo to raise their amounts to 250 MB and more; AOL.com
now gives you 2,000 MB free). I have been using it for 1.5 years and
it's terrific and fast. One caveat: Google runs small, text-ads on the
side of the screen, based on content of your e-mail messages. That's
scary to a lot of people, though Google promises no human will ever see
your messages, just those Google servers (remember, however, that all
e-mail can potentially be scanned by various systems). I don't use it
as my primary e-mail. I use it in two ways, with two accounts. One is
an account to which I send messages, photos, PDFs, I want to save for
future access, including big messages that I don't want taking up space
in my regular inbox - kind of a "greatest hits" collection. The other
is an account that get a copy of every e-mail message I get, so that
it's all backed up and available in one place. It is NOT widely
available yet, but you can create an account by using this link (and a
cellphone; it's complicated) or e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org
(subject = "Give Me Gmail!") and asking for an invitation.
TO READ: My
Poynter Web Tip on Gmail | GmailTips.com
How to use Gmail as
your second brain | as
a backup e-mail solution | GmailWiki.com
TO GET: Virtual
GMail Drive (PC only)
ALSO: Inbox.com offers 2GB, Yahoo offers 1GB
Pay a researcher to find answers to things you haven't been able to
elsewhere (starting at $2.50).
you type apple into Google, you get the
computer company, not the fruit (because the rankings work on Internet
buzz). But let's say you didn't know what an apple was and wanted a
definition of the word. Then, typing define:apple
will give you definitions. BTW, an apple is "a fruit with red or yellow
or green skin and sweet to tart crisp whitish flesh."
of Google, being tested right now, gives your suggestions as you type a
query. EXPLAINER: "As you type into the search box, Google Suggest
guesses what you're typing and offers suggestions in real time. This is
similar to Google's "Did you mean?" feature that offers alternative
spellings for your query after you search, except that it works in real
time. For example, if you type "bass," Google Suggest might offer a
list of refinements that include "bass fishing" or "bass guitar."
Similarly, if you type in only part of a word, like "progr," Google
Suggest might offer you refinements like "programming," "programming
languages," "progesterone," or "progressive." You can choose one by
scrolling up or down the list with the arrow keys or mouse."
this feature — click “images” on the
front page — to find photographs on the Web. Of course, just
because you find a photo doesn’t mean you can reprint it (for
that see my
image usage tips)
- PART 1: In the regular search box, type in a person's name (or a business
name), followed by city and state and you should get telephone number.
Example: Starbucks, New York, NY. To get even more specific results,
you can type in the words "rphonebook:" for residential listings or
"bphonebook:" for business listings. Example: rphonebook:
Smith, New York, NY. It only gives you the first 600
results, so you might need to be more specific.
2: The regular search box also works as a reverse phonebook. Type in a
phone number and if the number is listed, you will get back who owns
it. Example: 212-854-1754.
3: For its phone listings, not only does Google provide you with a
number, but often, with a map as well. Since some people don't want
such personal information available on the Web, Google does help you
remove it from their database. Removing it from Google does NOT remove
it from other parts of the Web, however. See my article on how to
remove yourself from Google.
LINKS TO A SITE:
Type in link:www.nytimes.com
to find out how many sites have a link from their sites to the NYT
(these are actual hyperlinks to nytimes.com, not just mentions of the
Allows you to restrict a search to a particular domain or website -
thus cutting down on the number of results you get. Here's the Google
explainer: You can use Google to search only within one specific
website by entering the search terms you're looking for, followed by
the word site and a colon followed by the domain
name. For example, here's how you'd find admission information on the
Stanford University site: admission site:www.stanford.edu
Will restrict searches to title or text of the web page. A regular
search for sreenivasan yields 20,000+ results; a
search for intitle:sreenivasan brings in less
than 1,000 pages that have "sreenivasan" in the title itself (ie, the
blue stuff that gets bookmarked). Another example (from reader Joe
Lira): If you are trying to find a page that had "red apple" in the
title and "sauce" in the text you would search for intitle:apple
intext:sauce. This is especially invaluable for trying to
recover URLs you may have forgotten.
<froogle.com>: Search through thousands of shopping sites
at once. The name is a play on the words "frugal" and Google.
<groups.google.com>: This a way to read the Usenet
Newsgroups - people discussing tens of thousands of topics - that
predate the Web. Great source for info, connecting with people, finding
obscure facts (and fiction). And now, you can build your own groups as
a substitute for YahooGroups, Topica, etc.
Keep track of all Google developments here.
Next: Yahoo's answer to Google Labs -- a
showcase of current research projects. Some good ideas here.
All sorts of advanced search tips, including Include Search, Synonym
Search, OR Search, etc. Something new: type in three * mice
and it will bring back results for three blind mice,
three green mice, three blue mice,
- MY SEARCH
Now if you log into you Gmail or other Google accounts, you can keep
track of your search history on Google.
ZEITGEIST: This sections,
aimed at journalists, gives you a sense of search trends.
- GOOGLE TRENDS:
This new site can help you track and compare searches by keyword and
(not affiliated with Google): A fun site that allows you to pit two
keywords against one another, and see which one has more Google
(not affiliated with Google): Rank the candidates for the U.S.
presidency on various topics. From the folks who produce one of my
favorite sites, FundRace.org
(not affiliated with Google): A fun(ny) site that tells you what Google
thinks of certain people, places and things. Not very accurate, but
(not affiliated with Google): Think of this as a "reverse recipe book."
Type in names of ingredients you have in your pantry and you will get a
list of suggested recipes. Pick from general, vegetarian and
international recipes. It's not 100 percent reliable, but is more fun
than trying to track down the esoteric ingredients that recipe books
often call for.
Just for fun, see Google backwards. Some people have a lot of free time
on their hands.
on using Google
Be careful when quoting Google hits (from Jon Dube)
THE MISSING MANUAL:
This book (yes, I am recommending a book!) covers search techniques,
must-have tools, and the little-known corners of Google.
A new search engine that allows you to keep your search results in one
place and preview the sites in question.
AskJeeves is gone, replaced by this site - lots of neat features
including "save" and the "binoculars."
- Twingine: Put in a
search term and it displays the results from Yahoo and Google
This site takes the results of Google and Yahoo and shows you which
ones show up on BOTH and also which are unique to Google and unique to
Yahoo. An interesting concept. Think of it as a BLEND of the two sites.
- Yahoo! Next: Yahoo's
answer to labs.google.com -- a showcase of current research projects.
Some good ideas here.
April 2003, Yahoo
relaunched its search engine. See
by regular search engines? Then try Answers.com.
Search Tools Chart - a guide to search engine features.
<sreetips.com/new>: A blog about new and useful sites
(with lots of Google and Gmail items being added regularly).
GET FREE SREETIPS IN YOUR INBOX: SEND
FULL LIST OF "Smarter Surfing" Links
"WEB TIPS" COLUMN FOR POYNTER
SEE WEEKLY WNBC TECHNOLOGY STORIES
See the Sree.net in-depth
back to the top