Google's search box: uses

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The most widely known use of Google's search box to initiate searches can be combined with a little know-how to solve math problems, track packages, get flight information, play music, and improve your search experience.


Some basic facts

  • Every word matters. Generally, all the words you put in the query will be used.
  • Search is always case insensitive. A search for [ new york times ] is the same as a search for [ New York Times ].
  • Generally, punctuation is ignored, including @#$%^&*()=+[]\ and other special characters.
  • Search within the page that you're viewing: press Control+F, or Command+F on a Mac, and a search box will appear in your browser window. Type in the word you’re looking for and it will be highlighted on the page.

Search box as a language tool

  • Language tool Google’s search box is a dictionary and spelling aid in one. To get a definition for a word, simply type “define:” followed by the word. The definition should appear as you type. Just like a dictionary. Simple. Example: [ define:food ]
  • Spell Checker Google’s spell checking software automatically checks whether your query uses the most common spelling of a given word. If it thinks you’re likely to generate better results with an alternative spelling, it will ask “Did you mean: (more common spelling)?”. Click the suggested spelling to launch a Google search for that term.
  • Synonym Search if you want to search not only for your search term but also for its synonyms, place the tilde sign (~) immediately in front of your search term.
  • Translation help if you’re translating text into a foreign language and wonder whether a phrase or construction that you’ve come up with makes any sense in the foreign language, type the phrase into Google. If you find plenty of target-language sites in which the phrase appears, you know you’re on solid ground. If the only occurrences of the translation that you find come from sites where the target language is spoken by foreigners, you’re probably off base.

Also, the European Union has amassed a ton of parallel legal texts in database EUR-Lex. So, when you need to translate some specific English term which you cannot find in an online dictionary, just type it in Google, adding eur-lex or just lex, click on 'search in (target language) pages', and you will get many links to pages with identical texts in English and "target language".

Other uses of the search box

  • Currency converter Translation doesn’t stop at words, however. Use the Google search box to make short work of converting currency or units of measurement. Type “25 dollars in euros” to get an instant figure using the current conversion rate. The same trick works for units of measure. “25 kilometres in miles” will provide an instant answer.
  • Math whiz Google is a full-fledged calculator. Just start typing math equations into the search box. Try a simple problem such as 5*2, and press "Search". Google immediately goes into calculator mode, showing you the answer instantaneously. Want to get fancy? A math calculation such as 5*9+(sqrt 10)3 is as easy for Google as 2+2.
  • Answers to specific questions If you don’t know the answer to a specific question use the asterisk (*), which can represent either a wildcard character or an entire word, to tell Google that you want it to locate or find the missing information. Try it with this sentence: Benjamin Franklin invented the *. Instantly, you’ll see Google present a list of inventions from which you can choose — or that you can use to conduct a traditional search to find more information about that particular invention.
  • Country-specific information To search results from one particular country only, type say "site:us", "site:uk", "site:dk", "site:se", "", "site:de", etc. with no spaces and the colon in between.
  • Google Images when searching a term for an object you may try to search for the term in "Google Images".
  • Weather to see the weather for many U.S. and worldwide cities, type "weather" followed by the city and state, U.S. zip code, or city and country. Example: "weather San Francisco, CA"
  • Stock Quotes to see current market data for a given company or fund, type the ticker symbol into the search box. On the results page, you can click the link to see more data from Google Finance.
  • Time to see the time in many cities around the world, type in "time" and the name of the city. Example: "Time London"
  • Sunrise & Sunset to see the precise times of sunrises and sunsets for many U.S. and worldwide cities, type "sunrise" or "sunset" followed by the city name.
  • Book Search if you’re looking for results from Google Book Search, you can enter the name of the author or book title into the search box. Then, click on "Books" from the left-hand navigation to view book content. You can click through on the record to view more detailed info about that author or title.
  • Unit Conversion you can use Google to convert between many different units of measurement of height, weight, and volume among many others. Just enter your desired conversion into the search box and we’ll do the rest.
  • Maps looking for a map? Type in the name or U.S. zip code of a location and the word "map" and we’ll return a map of that location. Clicking on the map will take you to a larger version on Google Maps.
  • Filetype Include “filetype:” to search for files of a specific type, such as PDFs. Example: [ filetype:pdf chicago manual of style facsimile ]

  • .. (two periods) Separate numbers by two periods (with no spaces) to see results that contain numbers in a given range of things like dates, prices, and measurements. Example: [ paralympic gold medalists 1996..2012 ]

Tip: Use only one number with the two periods to indicate an upper maximum or a lower minimum. Example: [ paralympic gold medalists ..2008 ]

  • info: Type a URL after “info:” to be presented with a short description of the site and a list links to other information related to the site in question.

Example: [ ]

Query Refinements

  • Phrase search ("") by putting double quotes around a set of words, you are telling Google to consider the exact words in that exact order without any change. Google already uses the order and the fact that the words are together as a very strong signal and will stray from it only for a good reason, so quotes are usually unnecessary. By insisting on phrase search you might be missing good results accidentally. For example, a search for [ "Alexander Bell" ] (with quotes) will miss the pages that refer to Alexander G. Bell.
  • Plus (+) Operator Google ignores common words and characters such as "where", "the", "how", and other digits and letters that slow down your search without improving the results. If a common word is essential to getting the results you want, you can make sure we pay attention to it by putting a "+" sign in front of it. By doing this (remember not to add a space after the +), you are telling Google to match that word precisely as you typed it. Putting double quotes around a single word will do the same thing.Example: "peanut butter +and jelly"
  • Punctuation that is not ignored punctuation in popular terms that have particular meanings, like [ C++ ] or [ C# ] (both are names of programming languages), are not ignored.

The dollar sign ($) is used to indicate prices. [ nikon 400 ] and [ nikon $400 ] will give different results. The hyphen - is sometimes used as a signal that the two words around it are very strongly connected. (Unless there is no space after the - and a space before it, in which case it is a negative sign.) The underscore symbol _ is not ignored when it connects two words, e.g. [ quick_sort ].

  • Related Search to search for web pages that have similar content to a given site, type "related:" followed by the website address into the Google search box. Example: ""
  • Terms you want to exclude (-) attaching a minus sign immediately before a word indicates that you do not want pages that contain this word to appear in your results. The minus sign should appear immediately before the word and should be preceded with a space. For example, in the query [ anti-virus software ], the minus sign is used as a hyphen and will not be interpreted as an exclusion symbol; whereas the query [ anti-virus -software ] will search for the words 'anti-virus' but exclude references to software. You can exclude as many words as you want by using the - sign in front of all of them, for example [ jaguar -cars -football -os ]. The - sign can be used to exclude more than just words. For example, place a hyphen before the 'site:' operator (without a space) to exclude a specific site from your search results.
  • The OR operator Google's default behavior is to consider all the words in a search. If you want to specifically allow either one of several words, you can use the OR operator (note that you have to type 'OR' in ALL CAPS). For example, [ San Francisco Giants 2004 OR 2005 ] will give you results about either one of these years, whereas [ San Francisco Giants 2004 2005 ] (without the OR) will show pages that include both years on the same page. The symbol | can be substituted for OR. (The AND operator, by the way, is the default, so it is not needed.)


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