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Search the web like a pro with these 14 Google hacks

Just a few simple keystrokes will save you from a sea of irrelevant Google results.

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Google Search, you've probably heard of it. To some, it's an indispensable professional tool and functionally, a gateway to the rest of the internet. For others, it's the mechanism by which you prove to your romantic partner that the lyrics to the song go "There's a bad moon on the rise...", and not "There's a bathroom on the right."

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No matter which camp you gravitate toward most, there are ways to augment your Googling experience beyond just throwing queries into a search bar. And, in the process, you can make your endeavors (whether personal or professional) more fruitful.

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Be exclusive

Sometimes there are words you want to join your party, and then there are the words that always show up late, empty-handed, and which then spend the entire night talking about the time they went to Cancun for spring break.

Make sure those words don't show up to your (search) party by adding a hyphen to the mix (i.e. -Cancun) to let Google know what you're looking for, and what you're not looking for.

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Double up

Say you're having a dilemma. You've got a hot query on your hands, but there's a second query that is equally applicable. What's a Googler to do in these trying times? Instead of poring over both separately, try using quotes and the word "or" in your search to combine both phrases into one (i.e. "best simple cocktails" OR "best simple mixed drinks). As always, make sure you Google and drink responsibly.

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Style of file

Google Search isn't just about pulling up web pages. In fact, there are all kinds of different files crawled by Google's algorithm just waiting to be picked up by the right query. For instance, if you're actually looking for a PDF, you can tip Google off by adding the phrase, "filetype:pdf" to your search.

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Fill in the blanks

Google is actually very good at guessing what is we want with a little help, in this case from an asterisk. Say for instance you're researching a famous quote but you only know some of the words (i.e. "To be or * that is the question"). Try slapping an * in your query to let Google know it should do some guesswork for you and lead yourself to Shakespearian bliss.

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Speaking of guestimation, you can also use the "around(x)" command to search web pages where words only appear a certain distance from one another. For example, "life (6) lemons" would limit searches to instances where those words appear within 6 other words of one another. This command may or may not help you make lemonade.

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What's in a name?

Words can be clumsy, and typing words into Google's search bar can be even clumsier. If you're looking for a more agile search, you may want to experiment with using commands like "intext:" or "intitle:" which indicate to Google that you're looking for a specific word or phrase in either the body or the title of something respectively.

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Planes, trains, UPS tracking numbers

There are things in life that you want to keep tabs on, like that DIY gaming rig you ordered, or travel plans. Fortunately, if you've got a flight or tracking number handy, Google Search can pull up information on both, letting you know (roughly) when your new, very necessary fondue pot (or your in-laws) will arrive.

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Narrow the field

While the shotgun approach can work, there are times when you might need a laser. Luckily, Google allows you to zoom in your searches to specific sites by adding a colon to your query (e.g. site:inputmag.com). This will limit your results to only things that appear on your specified (really cool tech) site.

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In that vein, you can also search specific news sources by simply typing "source:" in front of a query into Google News.

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The Netflix of Google Search

Algorithms have a lot to offer us, especially in the space of knowledge-based recommendations. Like Netflix's user-based recommendations, Google Search can also nudge you in the right direction based on your preferences in an attempt to help surface different, but relevant sites. By searching "related:" and then the name of a website (i.e. related:inverse.com) you will pull up sites Google considers similar to your query.

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Enhance, enhance....

If you've ever used Google before, Image Search is probably already in your repertoire, but what you may not know is that there are advanced settings for when you're really trying to refine your image results. By heading over to the advanced image search page, you can more precisely define words or phrases you'd like to search by, image colors, sizes, and a whole lot more.

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Reverse image search

There are times in a Googler's life where words will simply not suffice. When that time comes, Google will have you covered with its reverse image search capability, which allows you to drop an image into the search bar and trawl the web for images that match it, or those that are similar.

To conduct a reverse image search, you can navigate to the Google Search page, click the camera button next to the search bar and then choose to either paste an image URL or upload a picture from your device. Alternatively, just drag and drop it in.

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While these aren't all of the command functions and tricks Google Search has to offer, they're certainly some of the most important for utilizing Search to its fullest. With any luck, a few of these might just make your life as an internet philosopher, skeptic, or general seeker of valuable information (and shipping updates) just a little bit easier.

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