Since the launch of Google search operators, our performance with the world’s largest search engine has increased dramatically. Most search engines lazily type a word or phrase, hit Enter, and expect Google to do the rest. In some cases, this works. In other cases, something as simple as a symbol or additional symbol could save you so much time.
A search operator is a special character or special character string that you can include in your query to give the search engine more information about what exactly to do with your search query.
While Google has yet to explain why, over the past decade they have secretly gotten rid of some of their search operators. The + (plus) operator is just one example that disappeared in 2011.
Google also does not maintain an official list of all search operators that accept Google Search at any given time. This has led search operators to become something of a secret and a lost art. The good news is that we have a list of 21 operators that still work, and we’re going to show you exactly how to use them.
Basic Google search operators
Google Search allows you to use a variety of single or character operators that perform some of their simplest and most useful search filters. For basic search purposes, you will use these operators more often than any other operator.
Google is increasingly allowing synonyms to match your search terms. Using quotes around your query or part of it will result in an exact match.
The asterisk search operator allows you to search for wildcards. Use it in place of any term or phrase before, after, or in between.
- Example: Online * Tips
The hyphen search operator excludes any term or phrase immediately following it.
- Example: basketball -NBA
() (between brackets)
Putting your search query in parentheses will group it from the rest of your query, allowing for a more precise and specific search. Use it in the same way as a math function.
- Example: (basketball AND soccer) athletes
Conditional Google search operators
Google’s two conditional search operators allow you to perform searches based on the Boolean operator connectors “and” and “or”. Anyone with a little programming experience should find them familiar.
Using this operator will show results related to both terms. However, Google uses this search method by default, so you only feel the influence of this operator when you use it with others.
This operator will show results associated with both terms or each term individually.
- Example: sports OR games
Google technical search operators
Some of the best Google search operators require a deeper understanding of how domains and websites work. Using them will allow you to find content and search methods that most Google users will never find.
This operator will restrict search results to only sites indexed from a specific domain or URL. This comes in handy when you are exploring a site to see what its Google presence is like.
This operator will unlock a Google feature similar to the one offered by the Internet Archive. Instead of redirecting you to a search results page, after entering any URL after that, Google takes you to the latest cached version of the website. For popular websites, the cached version may already be a few minutes ago. For others, it may be several days.
While Google hasn’t clarified exactly how this operator draws its conclusions, this search operator will show you other websites related to the domain or URL. This is a very fun way to find alternatives to sites you already like.
- Example: related: free-online-converters.com
By itself, this search operator does little. However, when you combine it with other search terms or operators, finding content by a specific file extension can be extremely valuable. This operator only works on file types that contain text, but you can search Google Images for file types such as GIF, PNG, and others.
- Example: readme filetype: txt
This operator will allow you to search for results based on the text found in the website URL.
- Example: inurl: pizza
This operator will allow you to search for results based on whether all of the following terms are found in the website URL.
- Example: allinurl: pizza crust
This operator will allow you to search for results based on the text found in the website title.
- Example: intitle: zoo
This operator will allow you to search for results based on whether all of the following terms are found in the website title.
- Example: allintitle: zoo animals
In the text:
This operator will allow you to search for results based on text found in website content.
- Example: intext: movies
This operator will allow you to search for results based on whether all of the following terms are found in the content of the website.
- Example: allintext: Comedy Films
Google instant search operators
If you’ve been on the Internet for a while, you may remember the time when Google had a “I’m Lucky” button that instantly took you straight to the first search result. Well, Google Search has several operators that go something like this. This will enable you to get immediate, concrete results.
This operator allows you to get an instant preview of the definition of any word.
This operator allows you to get weather information anywhere – by postal code / postal code, city, state or country name. Wider locations will correspond to the most popular locations in that region.
- Example: weather: atlanta
This operator shows the stock price, its recent trend and price chart. It also displays information such as closing price, daily high and low, market cap, etc.
- Example: stocks: aapl
This operator will return results from Google Maps for any geographic location. You can use any location descriptor: name, postal code, coordinates, etc. There are also ways to view Google Maps search history and Google Maps location history.
- Example: map: Florida
This cameraman is a great way to learn all the information you’ve ever wanted to know about any movie. The results will be displayed next to an instant preview card showing its ratings from trusted sites, description, release date, lineup, and more.
- Example: movie: dumb and dumber
This is it! These are the 21 Google search operators that you will find most helpful. There are many more, and who knows when Google will turn them off, but these operators are known to be stable. Many other operators not listed here do not work as expected most of the time.
Once you get the hang of Google’s search operators, finding exactly what you need will become much easier. Memorize them, and you no longer have to worry about getting lost on the Internet!