The main way I’ve always used Google is to go to the homepage and just type in what I want to search for. For example, if I want to read reviews of Joy Division’s 1979 album “Unknown Pleasures,” I’d just do this:
That search gave me 5.6 million results. The top results are a smattering — some from the last few years, others from decades ago, and some results aren’t even reviews. What if I want more focused results? What if there is something on page 10 or 50 of the results that is really what I want? (That reminds me of a joke: “where’s the best place to hide information? On page 3 of Google search results. LOL.)
It turns out there are all sorts of ways to customize your search. Here are Seven that are super useful:
1. Add a Time Restraint
If I want to read reviews of Unknown Pleasures from the year it was released (1979), I can click on the “Tools” button and then on “Any time” and select a custom range. See below.
Doing so gave me NME’s review when the album was released and also gave me a 1979 Rolling Stone ranking of the top albums of the year that included the album. Fun.
2. Use “Operators”
When your search gives you tons of results, you can refine it by using “operators” which are commands that limit the results. Here are some top operator commands:
- Quotation Marks: Put quotation marks around a phrase to ask Google to give you that exact phrase in a result. For example, “Steven P. Jobs” will return only results that contain that exact phrase. Any references to just Steve Jobs won’t show up.
- Or. But if you put in an “OR” (in caps) then Google will look for either term. So, a search of Shadowplay Killers OR “Joy Divison” will return searches about that song with a reference to the band The Killers or Joy Division (Note: the song was originally Joy Division and covered quite well by The Killers).
- Tilde (~): Use a tilde to tell Google to also find results with synonyms of a word. For example, if I search for indie bands ~awesome it will also give me results for great indie bands or best indie bands, etc. because those are synonyms for “awesome.”
- Exclude Words: Use a minus symbol to exclude words. For example, if for some reason I want to exclude reviews from Rolling Stone I’d do this: Unknown Pleasures review -“Rolling Stone”
- Find a Range: use two periods between a number for a range. For example, 2022 BMW $50,000..$60,000 produces results for pages that have dollar amounts in that range.
There are a lot more operators. Here’s a link to a cheatsheet.
3. Use an Advanced Search
Instead of using operators, you can modify or limit search results by using an advanced search. To do this, click on the gear/settings icon at the upper right of your search results page. Then click on “advanced search.” Here’s what will pop up:
4. Sunrise and Sunset Info
Here’s a fun one: Typing “sunrise” tells you the sunrise in your location. “Sunset” tells you the sunset.
If your device knows your location, just typing “weather” in the search bar will return your local weather. Or just do weather [zip code] if you want the weather for your zip-code.
6. Flight Information/Status
Do you want to know if a flight is delayed or on time? Just type the airline and flight number in the Google search bar and it will return information on that flight, including current status.
7. Create a Google Alert
At our firm we use Google Alerts for news on various companies whose stocks we are monitoring, investment managers, and other things. An alert will cause Google to email you new news or posts that hit that day. To create an alert type “alerts” in the search bar and select “Google Alerts” which will be the top result. From there, you can set whatever alerts you want for them to be sent to your email. See below.
As a bonus, here’s my favorite song on Unknown Pleasures: