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Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

11 Google Tricks That Will Change the Way You Search

Dec 08, 2014

Google Search's learning curve is an odd one. You use it every day, but still all you know is how to search. But the search engine has plenty of tricks up its sleeve.

Here's an overview of some of the most useful Google search tricks, from basic tips to new features just recently released.

1. Use quotes to search for an exact phrase.

This one's a well-known, simple trick: searching a phrase in quotes will yield only pages with the same words in the same order as what's in the quotes. It's one of the most vital search tips, especially useful if you're trying to find results containing a specific a phrase.

2. Use an asterisk within quotes to specify unknown or variable words.

Here's a lesser known trick: searching a phrase in quotes with an asterisk replacing a word will search all variations of that phrase. It's helpful if you're trying to determine a song from its lyrics, but you couldn't make out the entire phrase (e.g. "imagine all the * living for today"), or if you're trying to find all forms of an expression (e.g. "* is thicker than water").

See Google Doodles Through the Years

google doodle la tomatina
VIEW GALLERY | 24 PHOTOS
Aug. 26, 2015 For the 70th anniversary of La Tomatina.Google
google doodle la tomatina
Google doodle sally ride
Google-Doodle-Eiffel-Tower-France
Mar. 20, 2015 To celebrate the start of spring and the vernal equinox, Google created a stop-motion animation of flowers in bloom.
Nov. 12, 2014 For the landing of the Philae lander, the first spacecraft on a moving comet, Google created a gyrating lander with passing stars.
Sept. 9, 2014 For Tolstoy's 186th birthday the Google Doodle team created an appropriately long doodle, with a click-through doodle. http://time.com/3308635/google-doodle-tolstoy/
May 4 2014 For the Audrey Hepburn doodle http://time.com/87152/google-doodle-audrey-hepburn/ the doodle team adapted an image from a 1956 black and white photograph taken by Yousuf Karsh.
June 9, 2011 The doodlers came up with the idea of a playable logo, then pegged it to guitar innovator Les Paul's 96th birthday. Turning on composer mode allows you to create songs that you can share online.
March 24, 2011 The Harry Houdini doodle was created in the style of the old posters advertising the death-defying magician.
Nov. 25, 2010 Chef Ina Garten prepared this Thanksgiving feast, which Google photographed. If you clicked on a dish, her recipe appeared.
May 7, 2010 Google asked the San Francisco Ballet to pose and twirl to re-create Pyotr Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake.
Oct. 7, 2009 Scan the doodle that marks the first patent for the bar code and you'll decode Google embedded within.
March 2, 2009 The doodlers arranged classic Dr. Seuss characters, like the Cat in the Hat and the Grinch, to form the logo's letters.
Jan. 28, 2009 There was no other way to honor abstract artist Jackson Pollack than with a chaotic drip painting.
Jan. 19, 2009 Guest artist Shepard Fairey (famed for his Obama HOPE poster) did a sketch for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Jan. 28, 2008 Early on, Google used Lego blocks as casing for hard disks. Later it feted Lego's 50th anniversary.
April 22, 2007 A melting iceberg for Earth Day is one of many eco-minded doodles the team has created.
Jan. 4, 2006 Enter the world of out-there doodles — Google in braille. Only problem: you can't feel it.
March 30, 2005 The Van Gogh doodle appeared in an era when doodles began to get more ambitious, and it's one of the doodlers' best interpretations of a specific painter.
Aug. 13, 2003 Early doodles of famous folk tended to be simple, like this silhouette of Alfred Hitchcock.
March 14, 2003 The early doodles were often simple but playful, like this mustachioed drawing of Albert Einstein to celebrate his birthday.
Nov. 14, 2001 Google's first doodler, Dennis Hwang, gave the logo an Impressionist look for Claude Monet's birthday.
Aug. 30, 1998 When employees left for the Burning Man festival, the Google logo became a cryptic BE BACK LATER sign. "There was no master plan for doodles at that point," says doodler-in-chief Ryan Germick.
Aug. 26, 2015 For the 70th anniversary of La Tomatina.
Google
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3. Use the minus sign to eliminate results containing certain words.

You'll want to eliminate results with certain words if you're trying to search for a term that's generating a lot of results that aren't of interest to you. Figure out what terms you're not interested in (e.g. jaguar -car) and re-run the search.

4. Search websites for keywords.

Think of the "site:" function as a Google search that searches only a particular website. If you want to see every time TIME.com mentioned Google, use the search "Google site:TIME.com".

MORE Google Is Putting Song Lyrics Right in Search Results Now

5. Search news archives going back to the mid-1880s.

Google News has an option to search over 100 years' worth of archived news from newspapers around the world.

6. Compare foods using "vs."

Can't decide between a burger or pizza for dinner? Type in "rice vs. quinoa," for example, and you'll receive side-by-side comparisons of the nutritional facts.

Google Search Tips Tricks Courtesy of Google 

7. Filter search results for recipes.

If you search your favorite food, and then click "Search Tools" right under the search bar, you'll be able to filter recipes based on ingredients, cook time and calories. It's the perfect tool if you have certain dietary restrictions.

8. Use "DEFINE:" to learn the meaning of words—slang included.

Streamline the dictionary process by using, for example, "DEFINE: mortgage." For words that appear in the dictionary, you'll be able to see etymology and a graph of its use over time alongside the definition. Google will even sift the web to define slang words or acronyms. Try out "DEFINE: bae" or "DEFINE: SMH".

9. Tilt your screen by searching "tilt."

This is one of the fun additions built in by Google engineers. Try it out yourself (search without quotes).

PHOTOS: Inside Google’s New York City Office

A subway themed conference room where Googlers can video conference with other Google offices around the world.
VIEW GALLERY | 11 PHOTOS
A subway themed conference room where Googlers can video conference with other Google offices around the world.Eric Laignel—Google
A subway themed conference room where Googlers can video conference with other Google offices around the world.
A lounge and workspace in Google's Chelsea Market office where employees can get together for a meeting or relax on a lounge chair.
Steel slides connect Google's two story lounge.
A green themed micro kitchen emphasizes Google's commitment to sustainability.
Google's apartment themed conference room for those looking to “work from home” at work.
Google's build-your-own desks that allow employees to completely customize their workspaces.
Water tower seating in Google's aptly named Water Tower Cafe, one of five cafes at Google's New York offices that serve free food.
The Broadway themed conference rooms on Google's New York City-themed floor.
A bookcase turns to reveal one of three "secret rooms" in Google's library.
Google New York's library, complete with books donated by employees.
The Google bridge across 16th street in New York City.
A subway themed conference room where Googlers can video conference with other Google offices around the world.
Eric Laignel—Google
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10. Play Atari Breakout by searching it on Google Images.

The legendary brick breaker game is available for easy access on Google. Just search "Atari Breakout" (without quotes) on Google Images and enjoy.

11. Search images using images.

Ever come across a photo that looks strangely familiar? Or if you want to know where it came from? If you save the image, and then search it on Google Images (with the camera button), you'll be able to see similar images on the web.

MORE 10 Tech Resolutions to Consider in the New Year

12. Press the mic icon on Google's search bar, and say "flip a coin" or "heads or tails."

The feature released last month lets Google flip a coin for you when you don't have one on hand.

Courtesy of Google 

13. Press the mic icon on Google's search bar, and say "give me a love quote" or "I love you."

The love quote generator is also a feature released last month for those in need of a little romance.

Courtesy of Google 

Read next: 5 Tips for Getting More Out of Gmail

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