Effective searching techniques in Google, Windows and Outlook

The ultimate guide to effective searching techniques in Google and Windows

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Using effective searching techniques will both improve your productivity and reduce your frustrations when trying to find information. Here, I will go through the different ways to search in Google and Windows.

Have you ever spent time searching the internet only not to find what you were looking for? Have you ever bee frustrated because you cannot find that file on your computer that you were working on only last week? You are not alone. Most people unwittingly waste time because they are simply not searching the right way.

In this blog post,  you will learn effective searching techniques that will both improve your productivity and reduce your frustrations when trying to find information.

 

The challenge of finding information

The biggest challenge in today’s world is information overload. Take a moment to consider these numbers.

  • As of January 2018, the Internet had more than 1.3 billion websites. That’s 1,300,000,000,000 websites.
  • Google alone handles over 6,586,013,574 search queries a day. 15% of those queries have never been searched for on Google before.
  • More than 2.5 quintillion bytes or 2,500,000,000,000,000,000 bytes of data is added to the internet every day.

It goes without saying that even thou the search engines gets better and better, and even with the help of artificial intelligence, knowing how to limit the search results to get what you are looking for is a useful skill.

Picture: Pixabay

 

The basics of effective searching techniques

Applying effective searching techniques is generally about two things

  • Specifying what you do not want
  • Specifying what you absolutely want to be included

By searching for Elvis -Presley you will get all the results for Elvis minus the results for Elvis Presley.
By searching for “Elvis Presley,” you will get all the results that contain the exact text “Elvis Presley.”

Remember that you can combine any number of these searches. If you search for “Elvis Presley” -singer, you will get all the results that contain the exact text “Elvis Presley” but not the once that also contain the word “singer.”

 

 

Effective searching techniques in Google

To eliminate specific words: Use the minus sign in front of the word you don’t want to be included. No space between the minus and the word.
Elvis -Presley

To include a specific phrase: Use quotes.
“the singer Elvis Presley”

For specifying unknown or variable words: Put an asterisk in place of the word.
“the * singer Elvis Presley”

To search only a specific website: Use the site: function.
Elvis Presley site:imdb.com

To filter your search results: Use the Tools menu. This changes depending on what type of results you filter on.

Effective searching techniques in Google
The Tool menu in Google is very useful.

 

How to find text on a web page

To find text on a web page: Press Ctrl + F. This will open a search box just below the address bar in your browser. The search result will be highlighted. You can navigate between the results using the arrow buttons in the search box.

 

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Effective searching techniques in Windows

Before I go into the details of applying effective searching techniques in Windows, let’s make sure that you have told Windows to do a proper job when searching.

Turn on file contents indexing in Windows 10

Windows 10 indexing options.

In my humble opinion, this should have been turned on by default. Anyway, this is how to do it:

  1. In the Start menu, search for “Indexing Options.”
  2. Click “Advanced.”
  3. Switch to the File Types tab.
  4. Under “How should this file be indexed?” select “Index Properties and File Contents.”
    NB: If you store files on your computer in locations different from the default save locations you will need to add these locations manually. Skip item 5 and go on adding the locations as described.
  5. Close all the dialogue boxes, and after some time, Windows will show you better results when you are searching.

 

Add indexing locations in Windows 10

Windows 10 indexing locations.
  1. In the Start menu, search for “Indexing Options.”
  2. Click “Modify”
  3. Select the proper locations in the upper part of the dialogue box.
  4. Click OK and the Close.

 

Searching for files in Windows 10

Searching in Windows is done in Windows Explorer. You can find this on the Start menu or use the Win + E shortcut. Searching is done in the Search field, to the right of the address bar.

To eliminate specific words: Use the minus sign in front of the word you don’t want to be included. No space between the minus and the word.
Elvis -Presley

To include a specific phrase: Use quotes.
“the singer Elvis Presley”

For specifying unknown or variable words: Put an asterisk in place of the word.
“the * singer Elvis Presley”

To find files that contain two specific words: Use AND.*
Elvis AND Presley

To find files that contain either specific word or another specific word: Use OR.*
Elvis OR Presley

*Note that AND and OR have to be written in uppercase.

For finding a file in a particular format: Use the file extension.
Elvis*.docx  Finds all Word files that have a name starting with Elvis.

 

Sorting search results in Windows 10

What you should be aware of is the Search-ribbon in Windows Explorer. Here, you can filter on date, type, size. If you look under Other properties, you have the option to filter on the filename, extension, tag, and folder path.

The search-ribbon in Windows 10.

The first thing you should do is to tick off everything under Advanced options. That means File content, System files, and Zipped (compressed) folders. This way, you are sure to find anything that you are looking for.

If you want to learn more about advanced searching in Windows, I recommend Microsoft Docs – Advanced Query Syntax.

 

 

 

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