Friday, May 14, 2010

Tips 1 and 2 towards better searching... (Control-F and Toolbar highlighting)

Google is pretty easy to use, no doubt.  When you want to find out something about the purple bird that you saw at Lotus Pond in Hyderabad, India, you just type a Google query like: 

and—voila!—there you go, you’ve found the Purple Moorhen.  

Now if you Google bird’s name [ Purple Moorhen ], you can learn its scientific Latin name (Porphyrio porphyrio), that they range from India to Australia and Africa, and that the state of Florida is trying to eradicate their accidentally introduced population.

But it’s worth knowing that most Google searchers can, with just a bit more inside information, can become really super searchers.  When I teach classes on how to search with Google, there are the top few key ideas that make people much faster in their searches, and able to discover things they never knew existed. 

1. Find a word on the page.  Ever do a search and then discover that you’re on a very long web page with no idea where your search terms are?  This happens fairly often, and the most important skill to have is the ability to find a word on the page.  As it happens, your internet browser has this ability already built-in.  Just look for the Edit menu at the top of the internet window.  Click on it and you’ll see the submenu item labeled “Find.”  If you click on that, you’ll see a small window that let’s you search for any word on the page.  This is a lifesaver when  ou’re searching for a particular word and it’s found only on the 10th screen down. 

If you do this often enough, or search for more than a single word at a time, you should consider installing the Google Toolbar.  Here’s why…

2.  Install the Google Toolbar to speed up your searching.  (Click here to find out how to install the Toolbar)  Google offers a free toolbar for all the different internet browsers.  The Toolbar lets you do a plethora of things to help you search, including bookmarking good web pages that you find, translating terms you see on the page, spell-checking, and instant searching on other Google properties (like Google Books, Google Maps, Google News, etc.).  But the one Google Toolbar feature that is very useful to power users is the highlight button. 

If you do a search on Google and end up on a page (say, the Wikipedia page about Purple Moorhens), when you click on the highlighter button, it will highlight all the appearances of your search terms on that page.  So if you’ve searched for [ purple moorhen India ] and gone to the Wikipedia page, clicking the highlighter will highlight all three of those words in different, highly visible colors.  This is a real timesaver for pages with small fonts or long, complex articles.  

Check out the results as shown here on the Wikipedia page... Note the yellow, blue and purple highlights.  You can quickly spot ALL of your search terms on the page. 

Next week... a few more tips!  

Search on! 

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