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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. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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