16 tips for advanced Google searches

Find stuff faster and far more accurately with our expert tips

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There’s a lot more to the Google search box than meets the eye.

For those in the know, it’s a currency converter, a dictionary, a thesaurus and a calculator, and the techniques for getting Google to perform these tricks are simple and memorable.

We’ll show you how to get Google to instantly tell you what the weather is like is a certain place, what the time is in another country and when a film is showing in a cinema near you. And we'll reveal how to retrieve pages from Google’s cache, and even how to see what a particular page was like many months or even years ago.

1. Use the Google search bar as a dictionary

Find definitions for words using the define: operator in the Google search bar. For example, type define: verisimilitude to obtain 10 different definitions from various sources.

It’s also useful if you’re not sure of the spelling of a word, because Google will show you the correct spelling if you get it wrong.

2. Check the time in other countries

Google can tell you what time it is in other countries, right from the search bar. Type 'time Paris', for example, to find out what time it is in Paris right now.

3. Universal converter

Undoubtedly the quickest way to convert currencies, weights and measures and the like is to use the Google search bar.

The super thing about it is that you don’t have to learn any special syntax because it understands plain English.

So use phrases such as "half ounce in tablespoons" or "12 ounces in cups" when you’re cooking; "500 Hong Kong dollars in British pounds" to convert currencies or "20c in f" to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit.

If you don’t know a currency, you can even type things of the form “currency of India in Australian money”.

4. Calculator

The Google search bar is much better than the Calculator application that comes with Windows. Enter a sum using the numerical keypad and it’ll tell you the answer.

All the normal operators apply: * means multiply and / means divide. For example, (845+62+31)/5 means add up all the numbers inside the parentheses and divide the result by five.

It will also find percentages for you: 63% of 995 tells you the value that’s 63% of 995.

5. Scientific calculator

Google being Google, the search bar is replete with mathematical capabilities. Type in any mathematical construct and the search bar will evaluate it for you.

You can use the trigonometric functions (sin, cos and tan), the ^ symbol to raise something to a power (so 2 squared is written as 2^2), sqrt for square root and log and ln.

Full instructions for using the search bar as a scientific calculator can be found at http://tinyurl.com/366cco.

6. Finding MP3s

There’s a special trick you can use with Google to find music files that people have left lying around on their web space but that aren’t necessarily linked to on any web page.

Here’s what you need to type, substituting for the artist that you’re interested in: -inurl:(htm|html|php) intitle:”index of” +”last modified” +”parent directory” +description +size +(wma|mp3) “BAND OF INTEREST”.

This uses the inurl: operator with a minus sign in front of it to specify that you don’t want any URLs containing HTM, HTML or PHP – that is, you don’t want any Web pages.

The intitle: operator is used to single out file listings, then keywords for the artist or title are at the end. You can also use the audio search at www. altavista.com.

7. Retrieve unavailable pages