Tech Tuesday: Searching the Internet – Advanced Searching

Often when you’re searching you’ll find yourself with more results than you know what to do with. In some circumstances very few of those results may be relevant. If you’re finding yourself in this position you probably need to add more finesse to your searching. This is what advanced searches are for.

The most common and user friendly way to proceed with an advanced search is to use an advanced search function. Most websites have these built into their search bars. They look like a form offering different fields to fill out. What they do is format a search by using special codes (operators) to eliminate or specify exactly what you’re looking for. Here’s an example of Google’s Advanced Search.

Depending on what you’re looking for the form will insert these codes into a search.

So if you’re looking for a picture of a bird but you only want a photo of one on the ground, not flying, the search would be structured like this: bird “photo” -flying

Other websites use codes called Boolean operators in their searches. There are three important operators: AND, OR, NOT. When searching you would type in “cats NOT dogs” to get results relating to cats with any dog information filtered out. If your search is a bit longer you can use brackets to help your search. For example “Cat (NOT dog) dew claw injury”

Different websites will use different Boolean operators. If you need some help finding a list of symbols and words that are being used as operators try searching for the name of the website and add “search operators” to your search string. That usually turns something up!

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