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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. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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