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Start Page: Tips to make Google searches more effective

Kim Brand
August 15, 2012
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Kim BrandG-O-O-G-L-E will replace Q-W-E-R-T-Y on keyboards of the future. It has already replaced S-E-A-R-C-H. Chances are after your word processor and email programs, you spend more time with Google than any other application on your computer. If you use Google Docs + Gmail, Google is already your number one app, and Google knows a lot more about you than you realize.

Problem is you probably aren’t very good at Google. Like a bad golf swing, without training, you just keep practicing the wrong swing and haven’t taken lessons. Here are six tips for how to play Google better:

1. Use ‘site:’ to narrow your search results

When you type in a search term you can get results from anywhere. Sometimes, you know which site might hold the most reliable and relevant results. How do you get Google to show you just those results?

After your search terms, add site: followed immediately by the URL of the website you trust. Google will only return hits from that site.

hp 4560 printer driver site:hp.com

2. Use a hyphen (dash, minus sign) to remove a website or keyword from your search results

Say you are looking for bookkeeping software to replace QuickBooks. How do you get Google to show you results that don’t include QuickBooks? Add a hyphen followed immediately by the term you want to avoid in the results.

small business accounting software -quickbooks

In a similar fashion, you can use a hyphen in front of the site: directive to exclude whole websites from your search results. Here is an example search for “Affordable Care Act” that produces results from all websites except cnn.com.

affordable care act -site:cnn.com

3. Use ‘filetype:’ to get results of a particular type: PDF, DOC, JPG, PPT, XLS

If you would rather focus on results of a particular type, say PDFs or PowerPoint presentations, you can instruct Google to only search for those. This is a great way to find presentation materials you can use as a template for your own. Locating PDFs is a good way to focus your search on more lengthy and complete papers instead of webpages.

google tricks filetype:ppt

4. Use ‘..’ to get results in a time or price range; or just enter a year

You can narrow the results if you are shopping by adding a price range using the .. search feature. Just enter the lowest price and the highest price you are willing to pay separated by ..

new cars 30,000..40,000

You can also use this feature to specify a year or range of years for the results you want. You’ll get more recent information faster by simply adding 2012 to the search query.

illegal drug policy 2012

You can even use this feature to get results that include amounts up to a maximum value. This is handy when you want to set a top-end price but are happy to start at the bottom. Here is an example that will return results for cameras up to $300.

cameras ..$300

5. Use ‘*’ to fill in the blanks

We’ve all experienced the frustration of remembering parts of a quote or a phrase. Google can help. Just replace the words you can’t remember with an asterisk and type the rest of what you know.

I wanted to include a pithy quote from Jean-Jacques Rousseau in my Curriculum Vitae but could only recall the gist of it.

if not * at least I am *

This search returned the full quote from Rousseau: “If I am not better, at least I am different.”

6. Google will return results from all words you enter, regardless of where they occur in a web page.

Think of this as producing an ‘OR’ result. In other words, it is as if you asked Google to find web pages that had this word or that word or another word. Sometimes you might prefer to have results which contain all the words: this word and that word and another word, in a particular order.

An example would be:

“computer experts” Indianapolis

This query will look for the phrase “Computer Experts” and narrow the results that would otherwise be returned from websites that included the separate words.

Google will remain the No. 1 search engine for a long time, and it will be the primary tool most people use to explore the vast store of knowledge available from the ever-evolving World Wide Web. You should plan on becoming a master of this essential tool.•

__________

Kim Brand is a technology expert, author and president of Computer Experts, Inc. In addition to The Indiana Lawyer, he writes for West Publishing, the ILTA and the IL Bar Association. Kim also contributed to the ‘On-Premises’ section of the recently released ILTSO.ORG legal technical standards and he is the inventor of the FileSafe Server used by many law firms. You may reach him at Kim@ComputerExpertsIndy.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.
 

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  1. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  2. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

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  4. Dear Fan, let me help you correct the title to your post. "ACLU is [Left] most of the time" will render it accurate. Just google it if you doubt that I am, err, "right" about this: "By the mid-1930s, Roger Nash Baldwin had carved out a well-established reputation as America’s foremost civil libertarian. He was, at the same time, one of the nation’s leading figures in left-of-center circles. Founder and long time director of the American Civil Liberties Union, Baldwin was a firm Popular Fronter who believed that forces on the left side of the political spectrum should unite to ward off the threat posed by right-wing aggressors and to advance progressive causes. Baldwin’s expansive civil liberties perspective, coupled with his determined belief in the need for sweeping socioeconomic change, sometimes resulted in contradictory and controversial pronouncements. That made him something of a lightning rod for those who painted the ACLU with a red brush." http://www.harvardsquarelibrary.org/biographies/roger-baldwin-2/ "[George Soros underwrites the ACLU' which It supports open borders, has rushed to the defense of suspected terrorists and their abettors, and appointed former New Left terrorist Bernardine Dohrn to its Advisory Board." http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/viewSubCategory.asp?id=1237 "The creation of non-profit law firms ushered in an era of progressive public interest firms modeled after already established like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ("NAACP") and the American Civil Liberties Union ("ACLU") to advance progressive causes from the environmental protection to consumer advocacy." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cause_lawyering

  5. Mr. Foltz: Your comment that the ACLU is "one of the most wicked and evil organizations in existence today" clearly shows you have no real understanding of what the ACLU does for Americans. The fact that the state is paying out so much in legal fees to the ACLU is clear evidence the ACLU is doing something right, defending all of us from laws that are unconstitutional. The ACLU is the single largest advocacy group for the US Constitution. Every single citizen of the United States owes some level of debt to the ACLU for defending our rights.

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