How to Use Google Power Search

Google Power Search

Want to look better, cook better, get a better job? Hunting for a good accountant or trying to track down a long lost love? Chances are if you’re like most folks, the place you would start for those and a myriad of other tasks at home and work is Google.

But like most folks, it’s possible that you’re not searching with Google as efficiently or as effectively as you could. While most people are familiar with putting search terms inside quote marks for an exact match, fewer are familiar with how easy it is to exclude terms, search by file type, fill in the blank and use an array of other valuable search features.

Below are some ways you can use Google power search and become a pro searching:

Search for an exact match

You may have already used quotation marks around a word or phrase to search for an exact match. Got the line from a song stuck in your head? Then search for it:

“I wouldn’t eat you cause you’re so tough

Why, it’s from the classic novelty song “Purple People Eater.”

Ignore words or characters

Exclude words or phrases from your search by adding a minus sign before words to exclude. Looking for information on Mustang wild horses but couldn’t care less about the car? Then search for:

 mustang –Ford

Search for either/or

While most people know the fate of Jim Morrison from the rock band The Doors, what became of the band’s other members, Ray Manzarek and Robby Kreiger? Search for both at the same time with the OR operand:

Ray Manzarek OR Robby Kreiger

Fill in the blank

Sort of know what you’re looking for but not exactly? Then use an asterisk (*) in your search as a placeholder for unknown wildcard terms. Can’t remember Yorick’s name, the deceased court gesture whose skull is eulogized in Shakespeare’s Hamlet? Then search for:

“Alas, poor * I knew him well”

Search within a specific site

Trying to find a recipe for Frogmore Stew (a sumptuous mix of potatoes, sausage, corn and shrimp) but don’t want to wade through 80,000 plus search results? Then you remember you saw it prepared on cable TV’s Food Network. Find the recipe in no time using the site:domain-name query: frogmore stew

You can also search just specific types of sites using the domain extension (edu, org, com. etc.) such as:

site:edu frogmore stew

Search by file type

Only looking for specific types of documents? Then use the filetype: operator followed by the 3-letter file abbreviation. Call it ObamaCare or the Affordable Health Act, but if you want to find PowerPoint presentations related to it, search for:

filetype:ppt ObamaCare or filetype:ppt Affordable Care Act

Find related pages

Find information closely related to a website using the related: operator. Suppose you want to know more about West Virginia’s Marble King, manufacturers of marbles since 1949. Then search for:

The results are a mix of pages on other marble and toy manufacturers and retailers, the sport of marbles, the West Virginia economy and more.

Search for numbers in a range

Limit your searches to specific ranges by typing two periods between two numbers and including terms like “mpg” and “lbs” to give the search context. Looking for which Toyota models get between 40-50 mpg? Then search for:

Toyotas 40..50 mpg

Looking for a low priced office desk, then search for:

office desk $100..$150

Note that unlike other indicators, the dollar sign is typed right next to the number.

Search by location

Adding a zip code or area code to the end of a search will limit your search to that area. Need a caterer in midtown Manhattan? Then search for:

caterer 10017

To find a caterer in central New York State, use the area code and search for:

caterer 518

Advanced image search

Use Google’s Advanced Image Search to find images in the size, shape (tall, square, wide, panoramic) color and file type you need. Best of all, you can search for specific usage rights to find photos that are free to use, share or modify.

Search the Web in all languages

If one language doesn’t yield the results you need, you can review pages in other languages by searching as usual and then selecting Translated Foreign Pages under Search Tools in the left hand column of the search results page.


Use Google’s search function as a calculator for any math problem using the standard symbols of  “+, -, *, /” for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division with parentheses when needed for clarity. For instance:


The parenthesis tells Google to handle the addition first before the multiplication. More complex math is also possible using Google’s calculator guidelines.


Need to know how many liters are in 5 gallons, how many kilometers equal 5 miles, how many kilograms equal 5 pounds, or how many pesos equal 5 dollars? Then search for:

5 gallons to liters
5 miles to kilometers
5 pounds to kilograms
5 dollars to pesos

Get the time

Wanting to call an old friend in Iceland but worried about waking him up? Search for:

time Iceland

Get public data

Looking for a job in Des Moines, Iowa? Use Google Power Search to quickly get demographic information by typing in terms like “unemployment rate” or “population” followed by the county and state to get data from the Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics. Located in Warren county, your search for Des Moines might look like this:

unemployment rate Warren Iowa

Get a map

To get a map of any location just type in “map” followed by a specific address, zip code, city, state, country, etc., as in:

map Kalamazoo Michigan

Web history

Google’s Web History feature can be really useful when you simply can’t remember where you found a particular snippet of information. Access it at and sign in with to your Google account to view all the searches you’ve made since opening the account or since it was last cleared. For those who don’t want Google recording their searches, there’s the option to erase the history and stop it from being recorded in the future.

Of course, these are just a few of the many advanced searches and search shortcuts Google makes available. For others, including stock quotes, sports scores, flight schedules and more, visit their Search Features page.

Got more tips to use Google Power Search? Share with us below!

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This guest post is written by Eric Nacul, a tech enthusiast who enjoys writing freeware reviews at BestFreeOnline.


  1. Marta on the 28th November

    That’s actually very helpful, thanks! I’ve been using some of these search techniques already, but I’ve learned something new as well.

  2. Running Software on the 28th November

    Nice article! Great post about How to Use Google Power Search! Eric, What motivated you to call this blog “How to Use Google Power Search”, not that the title does not go with the content, I am just wondering. I appreciate you sharing this with the rest of us Eric.

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