Google Search Hacks That Make Your Life Easy

We use Google sometimes, don’t we? Well, that definitely is an understatement. Everything from research to settling an argument includes “googling” as a step. Our Google searches are rather instinctive. What if I tell you there are better ways to google? This would mean better results, faster results, better research and an easy life. So here is the first part of the “Mastering Google” series that helps you get the master this powerful tool.

By Krishna Bellamkonda

In this article, we will look at some hacks you can use in day-to-day searches. We will also look at some scenarios where you might use them.

Hack 1) “” – Quotation Marks to Search for Exact Phrase

Entering your query inside quotation marks (“”) returns results for the exact phrase. This narrows down the search pool Google has to go through and help you find better results.

Let’s say you are trying to recollect the exact episode of Friends in which the dialogue “Why is it inside out?” occurs. A normal Google search would beat around the bush. In this scenario, you could do something like this.

A screenshot of the Google search bar with the text "why is it inside out"

Try it. The first result will give you what you want! More importantly, this is a fantastic tool to use while referencing and citing. When looking for the original source of a phrase, place it inside quotation marks. 

Hack 2) ‘-’  – Remove Unwanted Keywords

You can use the “-” operator to exclude some unwanted keywords from appearing. In essence, you instruct google to filter any results with the mentioned keywords.

For example, you may be looking for a new guitar. But your usual search returns a list with cables, adapters and amplifier extensions. So, you can get rid of these keywords by using the “-” operator. Here’s how you can do it.

A screenshot of the google search bar with the text Guitar -cables -amplifiers -adapters

This method is especially useful when you are filtering through your sources. If there is a particular source from which you don’t want your results, you can easily use “-” to filter them out.

Hack 3) ‘Define:’ – For Definitions and Meaning

More often than not, we find ourselves looking for the meaning of a word. Sometimes, we are looking for a particular definition. For these cases, we can mention the “define” keyword to get results with definitions in them.

A screenshot of the google search bar with the words define:entropy

Use this when looking for ‘book definition’.

Hack 4) Site – Get Results From a Specific Site

The site keyword returns the results from one specific site. During my high school days, I used this hack to find critical reviews on a site called “Sparknotes”. Now you know how I passed my Literary course!

Anyway, let’s say you are looking for research papers on Genetic Engineering. Mentioning a site like Research Gate in your query will give you results from that specific site. This way, you’ve both saved time and effort in finding relevant papers. For this to work, make sure you have entered the right URL.

A screenshot of the google search bar with the words Ernest Hemingway site:sparknotes.com

Hack 5) * – As Wildcard / Placeholder for Your Query

You can use the * as a placeholder for words. This returns results that match the format of the query.

This time, you can’t quite remember the name of a documentary. The title goes – “Attenborough: something something Life”. Just replace the “something” with “*”. So your search would look like this.

A screenshot of a google search bar with the text documentary david attenborough: * * Life

Voila! You can now start watching Attenborough’s “A Life on the Planet” documentary. In any scenario where you are at a loss for words, you can use the wildcard google hack.

That concludes this article on Google hacks. Hope you’ve learnt something new from this post. I suggest implementing these techniques in your day-to-day searches. These will definitely come in handy later! Also, stay tuned for the upcoming blogs in the series where we aim to master the art of Googling


Want to read more about searching with Google? Take a look at our article on Google Scholar. Do you have any top search tips to share? Let us know in the comments below, tweet us @warwicklibrary or email us at libraryblogs@warwick.ac.uk

Header Image: Brett Jordan.

Images: Krishna Bellamkonda.

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