Tips and Tricks about Google

I have been quite fascinated by Google ever since they started out as a search engine. Over the time Google has become an indispensable tool for any serious geek. I will describe a few techniques that I use. They have been collected from various help pages, chat rooms and books. If you find any error please point it out.

1.) Common queries:

So how will you effectively use Google. Take this example. A friend of mine was asking me over yahoo messenger what is a blog. I told him to search on Google and find out. He tried this.
Alas the answer was there but lost in thousands of links. He alerted me that he can't find an answer. I told " Ok , Let me see What is wrong? ". I tried this

What is blog
The answer was right there.

While formulating search queries you must be specific as far as possible. A query like Linux vpn howto can yield a different result than vpn howto. Google seems to be intelligent enough to understand some human thought chain. So while making queries be a bit descriptive and formulate a properly worded query. Google ignores some of the common words such as 'the' 'and' 'a' etc while performing a search.

2.) How to formulate a good search string :

Google uses AND logic for the queries by default. If you search linux vpn howto google searches for pages containing linux AND vpn AND howto. You can put OR logic in the search box like this

linux OR vpn OR howto

You can exclude some terms using "-"

linux vpn -installation

Try ( linux vpn - installation ) and see how it is different from the above query. You can group a set of terms by enclosing them in brackets. It is also possible to combine AND and OR operators.

It may be noted that Google is not case sensitive regarding search strings. Linux, LINUX and linux produces the same results. However the operators such as AND and OR are case sensitive.

3.) Searching for a file :

Suppose you want to search for pdf documents only. You can do this by attaching a filetype modifier to your query. A typical query can look like this
vpn filetype:pdf
Google can recognize most common filetyes.

4.) Searching only at a site :

This is similar to file type modifier. Try this VPN
Then try vpn site:edu filetype:pdf You can get some interesting result by trying this query

5.) Searching in URLs and Page titles :

You can search in urls using inurl modifier. Try inurl:smb.conf

Similarly you can use intitle modifier.

6.) Searching in Google cache :

If you are looking for some old web site you can directly search in Google cache.
Try and see the cached pages.

7.) Looking for definitions :

This can be handy if your school going kid pesters you for his home work.

It bring out definitions from around the web.

8.) Looking at Google advanced search :

I think it is one link that most people try to ignore. It is designed for commoners. Almost all the options I mentioned above are available through advanced search.

The preferences page is also worth a visit. It uses cookies to set preferences such as number of search results to be displayed, language preferences etc.

9.) Finding the price of some geek gadget :

Google has a companion site called Its interface is exactly similar. But it returns prices across various stores in the US. This feature can be very useful if you plan to buy some strange hardware. Let us hope that will appear soon.

10.) Google Calculator :

In the google search :
Type in an equation: (100+4567*10-200=)
What is the square root of 267? (sqrt(267))

11.) Google labs :

Google is very innovative and always tries to introduce new features. You can see some of the upcoming features at . Also Google conducts a puzzle champion ships annually.

12.) Google Sets :

Google sets is an interesting feature currently available at

Have a look at the page. You will see a number of text boxes. Enter some words which belongs to a set of items and search. Google will complete the set.

I typed in the names of following linux distributions " Mandrake" "Suse" " "debian" and hit larger set button. Google provided a huge list of linux distributions.


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