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13 Hacks to Improve Your Google Search

Nov 19, 2013

Even the king of all search engines can be throttled up with a few simple tricks. From finding flights to discovering new music, here are 13 ways to hack Google.

Ever since the Internet's dozens of Web crawlers (AltaVista, anyone?) were whittled down to a single alpha engine, pinpointing your online destination has been a relative breeze. But it turns out even Google can be juiced up with a few simple tricks. We were inspired by a thread on Quora sharing tips to make searches work better. They’re simple and infinitely useful. And when it comes to muddling through the ever-expanding sprawl of the Internet, you can never have too many tricks.

1. Set Timers

Type in "set timer for" followed by a number of minutes, or a specific hour you’d like an alert, and Google will graciously comply with an obnoxious beeping once the moment has arrived. Just make sure the volume’s on.

2. Wild Card

Sometimes a memory lapse leaves you searching for the right word. Instead of guessing, put an asterisk in the vacant spot and have the search engine figure it out for you.

3. Similar To

To encompass a wider definition than you're currently searching for, add a "~" in front of the word, and Google will pull up results from similar terms as well.

4. Flight Times

Instead of slogging through your airline's website, just type in your flight number and get an easy look at all the important stuff: flight status, times, terminal, and gate.

5. Search a Website

For a search you want specifically from a certain site, just type your term and then "site:" with the desired outlet.

6. Exclude Words

Sometimes, especially after a big news event, what you’re really looking for gets buried. To unearth what you need, put a minus sign in front of any terms you want excluded from your search.

7. Convert Units

Skip doing math in your head and punch in the units you want to convert. Like "10 euros to dollars," or "3 meters to feet."

8. Either/Or

Divide terms with the word “or” or use the “|” key to make your search more fruitful if you’re not looking for something specific.

9. Search a Date Range

This one’s a little touch-and-go, but entering two dots ("..") between years will confine your search to that date range.

10. Translate

For an easy toggle between languages, Google has one of the best translators around. Type in "translate" along with your desired phrase and language to get the translation and phonetic guideline right in front of you.

11. Global Timepiece

Just like Siri, Google responds well to questions. Ask "What time is it" in whatever city piques your curiosity.

12. Find New Content

For better or worse, the Internet is a hotbed of professional and amateur reviewers. On the prowl for a new artist or book? Punch in "reminds me of" or "sounds like" and include a favorite of yours to get some new suggestions.

13. Track Packages

Because sometimes finding the number-tracking line on UPS is too much effort, just copy and paste your package number into Google’s search, and it'll take you straight there.