Google Preferences that are definitely more preferable.

Well since I spoke of Google and the ‘+Show options‘ feature in my last article, let’s explore just a little more about how to get the best out of Googling.

For there are dozens of sneaky tricks and special modifiers you can add to narrow your searches down to practically a molecular level.

Nevertheless, the really advanced Google Particle Physics stuff can wait for another post. Let’s start off with some easy changes and a few suggestions that in all honesty, you will probably use more anyway.

The first thing to experiment with is your Google Preferences, because by default the big G hides away some of its better options. Such as it limits the number of results per page to just the 10, but you don’t have to be restricted to that, it’s easy to increase that number.

On the actual Google page itself, right by the Search button, you’ll see a little link for Preferences. Click that and you’ll be able to increase the number per page from 10 to 20, 30, 50 even up to a 100. It does warn that the more results per page, the longer it will take to load but it means only in nanoseconds, as a human with a normal perception of time you won’t notice any difference at all on 20 results per page.

And er, ladies, on that Preferences page, if you have impressionable children or an inquisitive husband to keep away from the saucy stuff on the internet, click the SafeSearch option “Use strict filtering (Filter both explicit text and explicit images)“. Then if he moans about it later, you know he’s been looking don’t you.

Plus while you’re there, I definitely, definitely recommend you check the “Open search results in a new browser window.” box. On modern browsers this opens any clicked search result in a brand new tab, so now you wont be condemned to the crazy back and forth between every clicked link and Google, losing your comparisons as you go.

Just make sure you save all Preferences changes before you leave this page though won’t you.

But as for the actual searching, I wonder if you’ve ever thought to do these…

The Reverse Phone Number. If someone phoned and didn’t leave a message but you 1471’d their number, have you ever thought to just type that number into Google. If it’s a business you’ll see straight away who didn’t even have the decency to say they called. Now you can righteously slam the phone down on them when they try again.

The Postcode Modifier. You may be used to adding your town or city name after certain search terms to act as a refiner, but it’s even better to replace that with your postcode. First it’s usually quicker to type and it narrows a search to a more local area.

So say you’re in the mood for a nice Rogan Josh, you can Google Indian Restaurant followed by a postcode and in a different look to the normal Google results, you’ll be presented with a list of 10 matches that are closest and a small map of their location. But you can do better, click where it says “Local Business For…” and be transported to a more specific page of those same results where you can even click a link to easily get the full Google Map directions to your curry house of choice, just by adding your postcode again.

The “When is the Film on?”. And if you fancy a film before your meal and want to know when it starts, you don’t need a cinema’s website. Just type into Google the full movie name of your choice and your postcode. The two most local cinemas will appear right there with all the start times. Click on the cinema name itself and it even provides the start times of all other movies showing as well, just in case your date doesn’t want to see a movie with giant robots in it.

Simple ways then to get more from Google, or not if you prefer.

New options to make you a Time Lord of Googling.

When you perform a search in Google, what do you do?

Do you just type in a basic search query and then try to sift through the results or do you do the smart, time saving thing and add a few further refinements.

Well courtesy of a brand new feature to Google those refinements are easier to achieve than ever. But while this welcome addition to the Worlds most familiar website is in plain sight for all to see, it’s so modest in appearance you’ll be forgiven for not noticing it or realizing its significance.

Because hiding beneath the understated wording of  ‘+Show options‘ at the top of your results there lies a whole new raft of filtering methods to streamline your searching.

Options that will instantly revamp your results if you were just looking for a review of something, a forum relating to the topic or videos about it. (Although still the better options for Video is to click at the very top of the page, you’ll get the same results but you’ll be able to play them right there inside Google.)

GOOGLE3All very useful, but on top of this Google have now integrated a much needed method to refine your search to either recent results, to those within the last 24 hours, last week or last year and a very clever one to define your very own time period to select from, down even to looking for results from a single day, years ago if you wanted.

Because just think, if you Googled Dr Who, you’ve got 11 incarnations of our time travelling hero to choose from. But starting with the right keywords and requesting only results from a very select window of time you can narrow the hits to a particular period of Christopher Eccleston for instance.

Fantastic. Absolutely Fantastic. What can I say, he’s my favorite.

Plus you can do more, you can expand the text of each result from the traditional two lines worth, include images from those pages and there is the appearance of something called ‘The Wonder Wheel’. A fascinating ever expanding DNA representation of all the people, topics and linked terms that’s associated to your inquiry and far beyond.

There’s also a Related Search option and the inclusion of an amazing Timeline function, something to serve even The Doctor well if he ever needed to know precisely the years in history he had already thwarted the Dalek menace.

So the next time you’re searching Google, do try these new ‘+ Show options‘ functions for yourself.

You’ll get to your destination in a much quicker time and with a lot less rattling about than the TARDIS.

The Awesome Bar. Expert retro surfing, Firefox style.

Ok, let me ask you this, what if you really need to revisit a website or a webpage you’ve seen previously but you forgot to bookmark it?

And what if you don’t remember the website address? Or even what it starts with? Or ever knew it at all because you arrived there via a link. Or it’s too generic to Google efficiently?

And what I ask…what if none of that mattered to finding it again anyway!

Because with Firefox as your browser none of nonsense does matter, you will still be able to find your site in seconds.

But how is such virtuoso virtual voodoo possible you may ask.

Well it’s all courtesy of the amazing power of the Firefox address bar, so much so that Mozilla decided it wasn’t enough to merely call it an address bar, instead they officially dubbed it The Awesome Bar.

And what makes it awesome is an amazingly comprehensive search function. Because while other browsers have a predictive feature that only works from the start of a url, the The Awesome Bar has one for any characters anywhere within the url.

So for instance if you vaguely recall that the word Shop, Blog, Football or perhaps Britney was somewhere in the website address, type that into the addr…sorry, The Awesome Bar, and now all the instances matching that word will appear in a drop down box to easily select from.

And if that finds your site, all well and good, but Firefox can perform even deeper searching. Because it also remembers the title given to any visited webpage, a keyword rich description of itself that is usually far more specific than its address.

Meaning that if your elusive web page was for a Chicken Scalopini recipe, those words are unlikely to appear in the url but very likely to appear in its title.

And that’s the key, because all you need to do is type in the words Chicken Scallopini, The Awesome Bar works its keyword matching magic and now you can have it for tonight’s dinner after all.

Assuming of course that you haven’t cleared your browsing history since, otherwise you’ll be making do with KFC.

Another example for you, if you use a service like Amazon and want to revisit an item, don’t bother going back and doing the searching again, just type that item directly into the Firefox address field and voila, that page can be instantly selected.

Truly after a while you stop thinking in terms of urls to revisit old websites, you start thinking of keywords, what the subject matter is you want to end up on, or you lazily just type the middle of a url because it’s more distinctive.

In fact if you’re on Firefox now, have a play, experiment, start typing and see how the The Awesome Bar actually works its voodoo. And if you’re not on Firefox now, I hope you finally realise that you bloody should be!

But that, my friends, is how easily you can revisit a site you don’t remember the address for.

Isn’t it just awesome.