Peter Imes: Be a Google power user

May 27, 2010 12:08:00 PM

Peter Imes - pimes@cdispatch.com

 

When creating a website, designers typically create features for regular users and for what we call power users. Power users are Internet-savvy people who know how to use advanced features of a website. 

 

Most people know that Google is the most efficient way to find what you are looking for online, but you may not quite be a power user. Let''s change that.  

 

Whenever I provide an example of a phrase to type into Google, I''m going to enclose that phrase in brackets ([]). Be sure not to include these brackets when you try the following tips for yourself. 

 

 

 

Feeling lucky? 

 

Under Google''s search box there are two buttons. The one that says "Google Search" returns your standard search results page, but many people may not know what the "Feeling lucky?" button does. If you know the first search result will be the website you are looking for, type in your keywords and click the "Feeling Lucky?" button. You will bypass the search results and be automatically taken to the first result.  

 

 

 

Page Previews 

 

Google now offers the ability to preview website links before you ever click them. This comes in handy when looking for a website you have already visited but can''t remember the name or address. Sometimes just seeing a sample of the site will ring a bell. The look of a website also sometimes plays a role in whether or not I want to even visit it. For example, let''s say I want to find a romantic bed and breakfast on the Gulf Coast. Let''s Google [ms gulf coast bed and breakfast]. Just to the left of my search results, you will see a link that says "Page Previews." (If you don''t see this link, try first clicking "Show search tools.") Clicking that Page Previews link will add the preview to the right of each search result. I can preview each site and select one that looks classy. (All of the search tools on the left side of the results page are pretty neat and are worth exploring.) 

 

 

 

Site Specific Searches 

 

Sometimes you know that what you are searching for is on a particular website, but you don''t know where it is on that website. Google typically searches all 1,000,000,000-plus web pages on the Internet when you type in keywords. You can help Google quickly find exactly what you are looking for if you tell it where to search. Let''s say someone told you there was a great article on The Dispatch''s website about sending text messages while driving. You could navigate to www.cdispatch.com and spend a few minutes browsing through the past few days of stories to find that one, or you could go to Google and type in [text message site:cdispatch.com] and immediately see every story on cdispatch.com about text messaging. 

 

 

 

Definitions 

 

Need to quickly know the definition of a word? Simply type [define:] before the word you want defined. Google will give you several definitions to choose from. If I wanted the definition of "power user," I would type [define: power user]. 

 

 

 

Unit Conversions 

 

When I was writing a column about the Columbus Air Force Base air show last week, I wanted to convert 13,000 feet to miles. I simply went to Google and typed [13000 feet in miles]. Google immediately told me the answer. This convenient conversion tool works for virtually every unit conversion you can imagine, including currencies. If I wanted to convert $150 to Euros, I would type [150 USD in Euros]. 

 

 

 

Weather 

 

Typing [weather panama city, fl] will give you the current weather conditions, a 4-day forecast, and a link to a more detailed weather report. 

 

 

 

Sports Scores 

 

Want to know the current score of the L.A. Lakers game? Simply type [la lakers]. If a game is in progress, you will get up to the minute scores. This search works with all major leagues: MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL.  

 

 

 

Yourself  

 

Want to see if your name appears anywhere on the Internet? Google yourself! The best way is to enclose your name with quotation marks. Chances are that there are others who share your name so try entering some keywords after your name. I may type in ["peter imes" columbus] to see where my name appears on the Internet. (Of course none of us would admit that we are vain enough to Google ourselves, but if anyone ever asks, you can tell them how to do it,) 

 

 

 

This is just a smattering of ways to use Google to simplify online searches. You can also use Google to track packages, search for movie showtimes, stock quotes, phone numbers, map locations and even translate web pages into different languages. You can find a full list of Google features at http://www.google.com/help/features.html. Happy Googling, Power User. 

 

Peter Imes is operations manager at The Dispatch. E-mail him at pimes@cdispatch.com.

Peter Imes is the general manager at The Dispatch. You can email him at pimes@cdispatch.com or follow him on Twitter at @pimes.