Total Time – An hour or two
Total Cost – None
Everybody does it. Most of us do it every day. But have you ever taken the time to learn how to do it well?
For this week’s 5 and 50, I spent my 5 hours searching for every cool trick, tool, and tutorial I could find on the art of the Google search. Here’s what I was able to discover.
When in doubt, ask Google in plain English
Google actually does a pretty good job of finding the answers to questions that you ask it in plain English. Questions which start with “what is”, “who is”, “where is”, etc., will generally be answered in a little box at the top of the page. Though most people probably already knew this, I wanted to highlight that you can ask Google some fairly in-depth questions. Try asking Google something specific like “when is the next solar eclipse” or “who is the current captain of the Indian cricket team”.
Advanced Search Operators
Google has a number of advanced searching operators you can use the enhance and refine your searches. I don’t think I know a single person who uses these operators, but then again there’s a very realistic chance that I only hang out with dummies. Let’s break down a few searches to see them in action:
filetype:pdf ~proof “earth is flat” -“not flat”
We’ve got 4 things going on here:
- filetype: tells Google to only return results that are either direct links to PDF documents, or pages that contain PDF documents. You can put any type of file into the filetype operator (such as .jpg or .html) so long as it can be loaded by a web browser (which means no music/movie files like mp3’s or mp4’s). Throwing filetype:pdf at the start of your Google search is great for when you need to search for scholarly-type documents.
- This will not only search for the word “proof”, but all words that Google has tagged as similar to proof, such as “evidence”. Throwing a ~ in front of a word in a Google search is kind of like performing several searches at once to amalgamate the best results together.
- “earth is flat”
- This operator is probably the one I will be using the most going forward. Throwing something into quotes tells Google to only return results which contain an exact match to what you quoted. This is great for when you need something specific (which is probably most of the time) and don’t want to dig through pages of irrelevant links to find what you’re looking for.
- -“not flat”
- The “-” before “not flat” tells Google to throw out all results that contain the words “not flat” in them. Much like putting something in quotes, this can greatly cut down on the amount of junk you need to scroll through when you’re asking Google for something tricky. If you only have one word that you want to throw out of your search query the quotes are not necessary.
My next search highlights just how powerful a tool that Google can be for searching not only the entire internet, but for stuff that may be hidden in a website that has a less-than-perfect search function. It’s also great for finding that weird porn that you’re probably into, you pervert.
site:pornhub.com *bees intitle:feet
We have three new operators to take a look at in this search:
- This tells Google to only return results that are on pornhub.com. The “.com” part is necessary but the “http://www.” is not. I’ll be using this operator a bunch in the future as many of my favorite websites (looking at you, reddit) have terrible search features.
- Unlike the ~ operator, a * does not replace the word following it, but adds commonly associated words and phrases to the beginning of it. In this example, Google would also throw in terms like “honey bees” or “bumble bees”.
- The intitle: operator will only return searches which contain the word or phrase of your choosing in the title of the page. Similar to putting something in quotes, this is a good way to filter out results which don’t contain the most critical pieces of your search.
All of these operators can be combined together in pretty much any order, and you can use the same operator more than once in a single search.
Google has many more advanced search operators than the seven I shared, and you can check out those out here if you’re interested. That said, I couldn’t envision many scenarios where I would actually use the other operators in practice.
Searching for Music Files
This trick is courtesy of a quora article which I would highly recommend checking out. Using a few of the operators we learned about in the previous section you can construct a Google search which will yield a list of websites that contain direct links to music files. Just copy and paste this into Google with the music you’re looking for in the appropriate place.
“YOUR SEARCH TERM HERE” -inurl:(htm|html|php|pls|txt) intitle:index.of “last modified” (mp3|wma|aac|flac)
I was able to use this search to find both popular artists and some pretty niche stuff. Give it a whirl and see if you can find your favorite band.
Though the article I linked above also has a search query for finding movies, in practice I was unable to find anythings I was actually looking for.
Search for Unsecured Webcams
Also courtesy of quora, you can easily search Google for unsecured webcams around the world by checking for common patterns in their URLs. Some of these searches work better than others but all of them should yield some number of unsecured webcams for your voyeuristic viewing pleasure. You can even move the camera around and adjust the brightness on some of the webcams you’ll find.
I spent an hour or so poking around in these searches and combining them with the operators I’d learned to see what I could turn up. Turns out that strip clubs in Brazil don’t have a lot of web cams set up in their changing rooms, though I did find a room in India which is constantly keeping tabs on a cat. Try popping some of these into Google and seeing what you can find:
intitle:”Live View / – AXIS
allintitle:”Network Camera NetworkCamera” (disconnected)
intitle:axis intitle:”video server”
intitle:”Live View / – AXIS”
Reverse Image Search
If you go to images.google.com, you can drag and drop an image you have saved on your computer into the search bar to look for places on the internet where the image has appeared. Though this ostensibly should be used for finding the source of images you’d like to know more about, this feature seems to be mostly used by jealous social media users to see if the images their friends post are genuine or stolen from somewhere else on the internet.
Google offers a number of nifty tools built right into the search engine. Here’s a list of some of my favorites:
Though I’m far from the Googliest of Googlers, I feel like I can safely say that I learned more than enough in this week’s project to have my investment of time pay off in long run. I also discovered the all-female Tuvan throat singing band by the name of Tyva Kyzy in the process of making this week’s video, so I really don’t see how I can call this week anything but a massive success.
Until next time,