14 Hacks to Improve Your Google Searches

iStock
iStock

In the 20 years since Google was founded, it’s grown into one of the biggest companies on earth—but its original purpose, search, is still as relevant as ever. How many times a day do you type a few words into that search bar and click on a result? For most of us, the answer is dozens, if not hundreds.

For a product that’s used so frequently, there’s a lot Google can do that you might not know about. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up tricks to help you get the most out of Search, from simple tricks for narrowing down your results to more advanced methods for finding hidden files and pages online.

1. GOOGLE SEARCH BASICS

You probably already know some or all of these, but it’s worth going over the basics in case you don’t. If you’re searching for a specific series of words, like a quote, just put those words in quotation marks (e.g. “The moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice”). Alternatively, if you want to rule out any search results that include a certain word, just add a minus sign before that word (e.g. “Martin Luther King -quotes”). You can also search for results from a specific website with the format “site:mentalfloss.com”—or whatever other site you’re looking for.

2. REVERSE IMAGE SEARCH

Google

Google’s image search is a great tool for finding photos online, but you can also use it to learn more about a picture you’ve already found. Just right click on the image and select “Search Google for Image.” Google will offer up a definition of whatever you’re looking at, along with other web pages that use that image and a few relevant links.

3. USE AN ASTERISK FOR WORDS YOU CAN’T REMEMBER

Google

If you’re searching for a specific quote but you can’t remember one of the words, just put an asterisk in its place. That tells Google there’s a word missing so you get the best results. This also works for song lyrics or article headlines that you can’t quite remember.

4. HOW TO USE OR AND AND

Adding a capitalized AND or OR to your search can help narrow down your results as well, thanks to a method called Boolean Search. Putting an AND in your search between two words makes it clear that you want to see results with both of those terms included. Meanwhile, using OR will tell Google you only want to see links that include one of those two words.

5. USE “RELATED” TO FIND SIMILAR RESULTS

If you’re looking at a specific website or article and want to find more information on the same subject, just add “related:” right before the URL. This works for general sites (e.g. related:mentalfloss.com), along with individual web pages (e.g. related:https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/530750/15-easy-ways-extend-your-phones-battery-life).

6. HOW TO SEARCH WITHIN A RANGE OF NUMBERS

If you’re searching for numeric results inside a specific range, there’s an easy way to do that in Google. Just put two period marks in between the two numbers. It works with basic numbers (1..10), dates (1960..1970), financial figures ($500..$1000), and other units of measurement (40..50 miles per gallon).

7. SEARCH FOR SOMETHING IN THE TITLE, BODY TEXT, OR URL

You can narrow your search results to a specific part of a web page with a few different commands. To focus exclusively on headlines, just add “allintitle:” before your search. You can also do the same for body text (“allintext:”) or the web address (“allinurl:”).

8. CACHED WEBSITES

If the website or article you’re looking for no longer exists online, you can still use Google to track it down. Just click on the small downward facing arrow next to the URL in your search results and select "Cached." That will pull up an archived version of the site.

9. SEARCH THROUGH OLD NEWSPAPER ARTICLES

iStock

If you’re looking for an older article that was never posted online, Google has a whole separate site set up for just that. Head to news.google.com/newspapers to look through scanned copies of old newspapers and search for specific topics.

10. SEARCH FOR A SPECIFIC LINK TO SEE WHO’S SHARING IT

If you run a website or published an article online and you’re curious to see who’s sharing it, there’s an easy way to find out. Just copy the URL in question and paste it into Google’s search bar with quotations marks on either side. The results will reveal any other sites that are sharing your content.

11. LOCATION SEARCH

To narrow your search to a specific part of the world, just add “location:texas” (or wherever you’re looking) to the end of your search. Google will also automatically factor in your current location if you’re looking for something like nearby restaurants, but this is a useful trick if you need to plan for an upcoming trip.

12. SEARCH FOR SPECIFIC FILE TYPES

You can also use Google to search for certain types of files, like PDFs, audio files, and Powerpoint presentations. Just add “filetype:pdf” (or the extension for whatever type of file you’re looking for) to your search and Google will narrow down the results automatically.

13. GAMES AND EASTER EGGS

Google

Beyond helping you find the information you’re looking for, Google is also packed full of hidden surprises. Over the years, developers have added various Easter eggs into Search, and most of them are still there. Try searching “do a barrel roll” to make the screen spin around in an homage to Nintendo’s Starfox games. You can also search “zerg rush” to launch a minigame, and search “bubble level” on your phone to create a virtual level tool that actually works.

14. GOOGLE SEARCH WIDGETS

Google

Google’s also added dozens of useful tools to show you information right from the results page. You can search “weather new york” (or wherever you are) to get a forecast. You can also ask Google for stock quotes, sports scores, sunset and sunrise times, word translations, definition, movie showtimes, currency or unit conversions, and your public IP address. Google even has a widget to help you search for plane tickets, a built-in calculator, stopwatch, and countdown timer.

11 Masks That Will Keep You Safe and Stylish

Design Safe/Designer Face Covers/Its All Goods
Design Safe/Designer Face Covers/Its All Goods

Face masks are going to be the norm for the foreseeable future, and with that in mind, designers and manufacturers have answered the call by providing options that are tailored for different lifestyles and fashion tastes. Almost every mask below is on sale, so you can find one that fits your needs without overspending.

1. Multicolor 5-pack of Polyester Face Masks; $22 (56 percent off)

Home Essentials

This set of five polyester masks offers the protection you need in a range of colors, so you can coordinate with whatever outfit you're wearing.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

2. 3D Comfort Masks 5-Pack; $20 (25 percent off)

Brio

The breathable, stretchy fabric in these 3D masks makes them a comfortable option for daily use.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

3. Reusable Face Masks 2-pack; $15 (50 percent off)

Triple Grade

This cotton mask pack is washable and comfortable. Use the two as a matching set with your best friend or significant other, or keep the spare for laundry day.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

4. Active Masks 3-pack; $23 (14 percent off)

RipleyRader

Don’t let masks get in the way of staying active. These double-layer cotton masks are breathable but still protect against those airborne particles.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

5. Washable Protective Cotton Face Masks 2-pack; $13 (35 percent off)

Its All Good

Avoid the accidental nose-out look with this cotton mask that stays snug to your face.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

6. Washable 3D Masks 12-pack; $24 (44 percent off)

Elicto

With this 12-pack of protective masks, you can keep a few back-ups in your car and hand the rest out to friends and family who need them.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

7. Reusable Dust-Proof Mask with 5 Filters; $22 (45 percent off)

Triple Grade

This dust-proof mask can filter out 95 percent of germs and other particles, making it a great option for anyone working around smoke and debris all day, or even if you're just outside mowing the lawn.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

8. Reusable Fun Face Cover / Neck Gaiter (Flamingo); $20

Designer Face Covers

Channel some tropical energy with this flamingo fabric neck gaiter. The style of this covering resembles a bandana, which could save your ears and head from soreness from elastic loops. Other designs include a Bauhaus-inspired mask and this retro look.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

9. Seamless Bandana Mask; $8 (52 percent off)

Eargasm Earplugs

This seamless gaiter-style mask can be worn properly for protection and fashioned up into a headband once you're in the car or a safe space. Plus, having your hair out of your face will help you avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth before washing your hands.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

10. Two-Ply "Love" Face Masks 2-Pack; $18 (40 percent off)

Design Safe

These statement masks allow you to have a voice, even if your mouth is covered.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

11. Neoprene/Fleece Neck and Face Mask (Purple); $10 (66 percent off)

Its All Good

This mask will definitely come in handy once winter rolls around. It features a fleece neck, face, and ear covering to keep your mask secure and your face warm.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

Prices subject to change.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. If you haven't received your voucher or have a question about your order, contact the Mental Floss shop here.

Are You Overpaying for Your Groceries? The Basket App Will Tell You the Best Place to Shop

She knew the price of those pineapples before she set foot in the store.
She knew the price of those pineapples before she set foot in the store.
Artem Beliaikin, Pexels

If you’re committed to getting the best deal for everything on your grocery list, going shopping can easily turn into a day-long errand that involves hitting several stores around town. With the Basket app, however, you can do all your price-checking beforehand—and pick the one grocery store that’ll save you the most money overall.

After logging in, you choose all the grocery stores within range for your shopping trip. Then you start searching for individual items to add to your basket. Not only will the app show you the cost of each item at all your selected stores, but it’ll also show you how much your entire basket would cost at each store. For example, Fruit Roll-Ups might be more expensive at Walmart than at Target, but if the dozen other items in your basket are cheaper at Walmart, you’re better off heading to Walmart for this particular excursion. And if you're willing and able to visit both stores, you’ll know to save the Fruit Roll-Ups for Target.

Looks like Amanda's heading to Walmart.Basket

Then again, maybe your basket is only a few dollars cheaper at Walmart than at Target, and Walmart is significantly farther from your house. In that case, you might decide the longer drive (and the gas it takes to get there) isn’t worth it. Either way, Basket gives you all the information you need to make the best decision for your situation.

All the prices are submitted by other Basket users, who scan products and enter their prices through the app, so there is a possibility that stores could change prices—or items could be out of stock—by the time you go shopping. That said, the convenience of being able to price-check everything in one handy app just might outweigh the occasional discrepancy.

You can learn more and download Basket here.