Google like a pro in 5 minutes

Filip Woszczenko
Sep 12, 2017 · 5 min read

Think you know how to Google? Ok, let’s find out.

Can you do this?

site:wikipedia.com articles * * usage OR english * articles“ –publishtreaty

No? Then drop whatever you’re doing and sit down.

I’m going to show you something that will revolutionize the way you find things on the Internet.

Why? Consider how often you google. Learning to do it properly is one of the most worthwhile skills you can acquire. It should be common knowledge.

So why isn’t it? Well, why don’t YOU tell me? Most people don’t even know there’s more to Google than just typing in a word or two.

Now, you might ask:

Should I learn how to google?

Well, do you use Google? Do you like to go fast?

If you answered “yes” to both, then this 5-minute guide is for you!

Oh, and don’t worry if the example above looks like machine code — it’s exaggerated on purpose.

So without further ado.

Here’s the plan. First the essentials — things that you’ll end up using every day, in every search. Then, advanced Google magic. Finally, Google’s memes.

Ready? Open google.com and let’s get going.

The Essentials

Let’s start this dinner with ice cream. Say hello to search operators ” * -

Use them to make your search more specific.

  • * (asterisk) acts as a wildcard. Put it in place of any word, and Google will replace it with any word(s) while keeping the rest of the phrase intact. Good for finding phrases with variable components or missing words.

Try it out:

  • – (en dash) — put it in front of a word to exclude it from Google search results.

Try it out:

  • ” ” (quotation marks) — if you enclose a search term with quotation marks, Google will search for an exact match. Great if what you’re looking for is buried beneath unrelated information built from similar words.

Try it out:

  • OR — put it between two search terms to look up two things at once. Combine with quotes in complex searches.

Try it out:

Protip: You can combine all operators, in any order.

Try it out:

Right. That was the 101. EZ. But we need to go deeper.

Advanced — search commands

Researchers and writers rejoice.

The title says “advanced”, but they’re just single words that make Google run a special search.

  • define:My personal favorite. This opens Google’s powerful dictionary widget. I use Google’s define: feature so much, it sometimes asks me to solve a captcha.

Try it out:

  • site: — type this in front of an URL to search for a term within a single website. Saves you a click on some pages, and hours on pages without a search feature.

Try it out:

  • cache: — follow this with an URL to search for a cached version of a website. Very handy when something you wanted to read got taken down or changed.

Try it out:

  • related: — follow this with a URL to search for similar websites. Doesn’t always work perfectly, but can help you find extra info in a pinch.

Try it out:

  • filetype: — follow this with a file extension (no dot required) to search for a specific file type, such as PDF, MP3 or PPT. Warning: Do not use anything you find while searching for EXE!

Try it out:

  • intitle: — search only for results that include the search term in page title.

Try it out:

Doing things with numbers

Ever seen an office worker use a calculator while in front of a computer? I have. It looks like someone putting down a chainsaw and chop down a tree with a knife.

But counting is not the only thing Google lets you do with numbers.

  • simple math in google — just type the formula. This will open Google’s calculator widget. Works on measurement units and currencies.

Try it out:

  • .. (two dots) — search for a number or a range of numbers. ..35 will start a search that matches exactly 35. 1..3 will search for 1–3.

Try it out:

  • Time *place* — this lets you check what time it is in various places.

Try it out:

  • Check stocks. You can quickly find out if you’ve lost your life’s savings on stocks by typing ticker names into Google.

Try it out:

  • Track packages. You can track your packages by typing their tracking numbers into Google. Works for UPS, USPS and FedEx.

Try it out:

Reverse image search

Yes, you can drag pictures into a search bar.

  • go to images.google.com and upload the image you want to find. Google Images will find sources, similar images and more. Trace the original file, identify authors or get a larger version of your favorite wallpaper.

For researchers

If you use Google for research, you may want to use some of their dedicated solutions.

Tricks and memes

Some things are just for fun. Everyone knows ‘google gravity’ and ‘google zerg rush’. But there are a few hidden gems.

  • in google.com, type google sphere and click “I’m feeling lucky”. Google will turn into a more… well-rounded search engine. Pun intended, sue me.
  • in google.com, type google guitar and click “I’m feeling lucky” and start shredding like Jimmy Hendrix using just your keyboard and your co-workers’ patience.
  • in google.com, type google in 1980 and click “I’m feeling lucky”. You can now feel like an OG hacker straight from the abyss of the deep internet. Use a 13 inch CRT monitor for secret l33t points.
  • https://lmgtfy.com/ — when people ask lazy questions, this is a mildly passive-aggressive way of telling them to just google it. This will cause your social networks to grow exponentially.

Yeah. Until Google search starts supporting regular expressions, which is unlikely, this is all I can teach you about finding information.

OR IS IT

One final, super secret method

Not everything can be found via a search engine, or even phrased as a query. Some decisions are just too big to research on your own.

In such situations, what most people do is call someone and ask for advice. Works even better if you know someone who’s an expert. But what if the know-how I need is highly specific and I don’t know anyone who could help me. Now, imagine I have a big decision or project coming up. I phone some of my friends but they either don’t know enough or don’t want to take responsibility. Am I out of options? Not yet.

There’s a service that lets me get insights from people who’ve devoted years of work to acquire the know-how I seek. It’s called AnyMind and it’s launching January 2018.

Why spend hours troubleshooting on your own when you can skip straight to solutions?

Try it out:

That’s it! I hope you enjoyed it!

Write me a comment if you’ve learned anything useful.

If you liked this story, head over to The UnWork Journal for more stories like this one!

The UnWork Journal

Career advice that doesn’t suck for people who want to do what they love.

Filip Woszczenko

Written by

A technical writer turned just writer. Is actually 3 midgets in a coat, stacked on top of one another.

The UnWork Journal

Career advice that doesn’t suck for people who want to do what they love.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade