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www.google.com/) is the grandmaster of all search tools. While doing pretty much anything in Google will get you decent results, there are a few things you can do to make your experience even better.
Word order matters. Put the most pertinent search terms first.
Repetition matters. Entering a particular search term multiple times will, at the very least, change the order of your results. In general, the term with multiple instances (and therefore more weight) will be more prevalent in the search results.
Case does not matter. Don't spend extra effort on capitalizing -- it's ignored by Google completely.
Use quotes when looking for exact phrases; otherwise, use multiple separate words.
"opportunities multiply as they are seized"
The Google Toolbar (»toolbar.google.com/) is an invaluable tool that grants you Google's powers without having to go to the site each time you need to find something. Also, when Google toolbar is installed, highlight any text on a webpage (double-click it if it's a single word) and right click it. Select "Google Search," and Google will search for that text and return you the results.
Using the advanced features of the toolbar requires that you send information about the pages you are viewing to Google. Be sure to disable the advanced features if this is an issue for you.
Do not include words like "a," "to" and "the" in your queries; they are omitted by Google because of how common they are, and they don't help your search in any way. If you really want to use one, add a '+' (plus) to it, and it will force Google to include it in the query. Also, when using quotes to search for phrases, these words are not omitted; the entire phrase you entered within the quotes is searched for.
By default, Google uses the Boolean AND operator when performing searches when given multiple arguments. In other words, if you enter two words into Google and hit enter, it will search for pages that have both of the words in them, not one or the other.
You can use 'OR' to search instead of the default 'AND' by putting an 'OR' between search terms.
You can also use '|' (the pipe character) as OR.
house OR car
cat | dog
When you perform a query and get your results back, the blue bar located under the search tabs will say, "Searched _ pages for *your_terms." If *your_term* was a word with a definition at dictionary.com, the word *your_term* will be a link to the definition of the word at dictionary.com.
You can group search terms using both the default 'AND' and the 'OR' operations together.
cats (pets OR wild)
plants green (ocean | land)
It is possible to remove results that contain certain words by using the '-' (minus) sign. This allows you to filter out results that you know don't pertain to what you are looking for.
ford mustang -horse
You can use an '*' (asterisk) as a full-word wildcard in a phrase lookup. This is helpful when you want to fill in gaps in a search phrase with any full word.
"rule of *"
Can use 'intitle:' to find things that exist only in the title of web pages.
Can use 'inurl:' to find things that exist only in the url of a web page.
Can use 'intext:' to find things that exist only in the body of a web page.
Can use 'inanchor:' to find things that exist only in the anchor of a web page. An anchor is the text associated with a link that helps to identify it.
inanchor:daycare OR babysitter
Can use 'site:' to isolate a search to just a certain website or domain. This, by the way, is a far better way to search the Microsoft site than using their built-in search feature.
site:microsoft.com "securing windows 98" (good luck)
Can use 'link:' to find all pages that link to a given site:
Can use 'cache:' to find the cached version of a certain site. A cache is a snapshot copy of the site that is helpful if the site is offline or changed from when you saw it last.
Can use 'filetype:' to find various file types that exist on the Internet. This is very powerful when combined with other search options.
filetype:ppt "nursing education"
Can use 'related:' to find pages that are related in type/classification to the input given. For example, 'related:www.slashdot.org' will yield hits like www.userfriendly.org because they are both "geek-oriented."
Can use 'info:' to get all Google-related information (cache, stocks, links, related, etc.) about a given site.
Can use 'phonebook:' to find phone number and address information about people and businesses. This very powerful feature will find phone numbers when given a name and state abbreviation. To get more specific, just add the city to the query as well. There are three different phonebook related searches available - phonebook, rphonebook and bphonebook. The first searches the whole phonebook directory, the second only residential entries and the third only businesses.
bphonebook:round table, fremont
Can use 'stocks:' to check stock and other company information for a given company.
Images - The largest image archive online. Allows you to search several hundred million images using the power and speed of Google.
News Headlines - Gathers news from over 4,000 sources and organizes it into categories for you.
News Groups - Allows you to search the entire Usenet archive reaching back over 20 years. You can also post to the various newsgroups using the Google interface.
Directory Search - Lets you search a more "Yahoo-oriented" type of system that is organized into categories.
Product Catalogs - This feature scans over 5,000 catalogs regularly and allows you to peruse them as if they were in front of you.
US Government - Narrows your search terms to US Government-related sites and resources.
GNU/Linux - Lets you search only Linux-related materials.
Microsoft - Let's you search only Microsoft-related materials. An excellent way to search the Microsoft site since their own search features are limited at best.
BSD Unix - Lets you search only BSD-related materials.
Apple Macintosh - Let's you search only Mac related-materials.
Much of this content has been gathered from other sources, namely »www.google.com/help/features.html. Always check the Google site for the most up to date information pertaining to features.