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Fantastic New Search Tool (Part 1)

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Use the latest search tools to find what you need without even trying

For most of us, searching for something online involves typing a word or phrase into Google. But Google doesn’t have all the answers and, in any case, doesn’t present search results equally. It’s been criticized by the EU for giving prominence to results that appear in its own services. Nonetheless, for general searches, such as addresses and publicly available facts, Google or its main rivals Bing (www.bing.com) and Yahoo (www.yahoo.com) will probably find the web link you need.

Bing search

Bing search

Finding items that are not often searched for, that have few or no links from other sites, or are on infrequently updated webpages is more of a challenge. It can also be frustrating to get results based on your previous searches. This usually happens because the search engine tries to be too clever and second-guess what you wanted to know.

In the next few pages we’ll uncover ways to dig deeper into the web to get at hidden sites and use new search tools to find everything faster.

Brilliant new Google tools

With Google you can customize almost every element of your search experience. If you allow it to, Google will use your contact list, emails, previous web searches, locations, calendar entries and appointments to provide you with a highly tailored search. You need to sign into your Google account (the same one you use for Gmail, YouTube and Blogger) and set Google as your search engine in the dropdown menu in your browser bar in Internet Explorer or Firefox Chrome users won’t need to select Google here as it’s the default search engine.

Google search on Smartphone

Google search on Smartphone

When you’re signed into Google, it will use your search history and any connected Google services you allow to provide a more focused search. To manage your settings, click Account, Dashboard and enter your Google password. Under Security go to ‘Connected applications and sites’ to revoke access to any that shouldn’t be able to access your account. In Products you can review settings for Google services you use. For example, if you enable Latitude to share your location details you’ll be able to get up-to-the-minute traffic and weather information.

Use Google Now to organize your day

Google Now is built into Google search on smartphones running Android 4.1 or later. To enable it, tap the search box or open the Google app from the Apps list. Tap Settings and switch on Google Now. You must give Google permission to analyze your email and calendar entries. It’s your choice how much more you share, but for the best results you’ll need to allow Google apps to see your location and give Google access to even more data about you. To choose what Google Now is able to view, start Now, open the menu, select Settings and tap ‘Privacy & accounts’. Review which apps can be used to provide data in Settings, ‘Phone search’.

Get Google now on your Desktop

Google Now isn’t officially available for laptop and PC users yet but you can try it out by installing a Beta version of Chrome from www.snipca.com/9199. The personal information cards will be shown when you use Chrome. Voice search will be included too. As with the Android version, you’ll need to enable Now and manage your sharing settings.

Disconnect Google search from other Google services

If you find it disconcerting that Google uses your contacts and your search history to serve up relevant information, you can disconnect Google search from other Google services you use. Choose ‘Disconnect from Google account’ in Chrome’s Settings menu.

Disconnect your Google account

Disconnect your Google account

Search as someone else

On a shared computer you may not want to use the same search settings as other family members. Or you may simply want to do a search that doesn’t show up in your search history. If so, you’ll need to create an additional user account for Chrome. Click Add New User in the Settings menu then choose an icon and a name for the new user. Sign into this anonymous account and you’ll see the icon next to the Chrome page tab. Use this technique to search without having results returned that reflect your previous search history. This is useful when you want to start a completely fresh search session.

Research topics with Google Knowledge Graph

Google Knowledge Graph (www.snipca.com/9229) provides a way of searching for related content without having to perform multiple searches. So if you search for ‘horror films’ you’ll get examples of the latest and classic films. It’s presented as a ‘carousel’ of information at me top of your main search results page. This is drawn from searches other people have made on the same topic. Click a thumbnail to sec related information. Our film search provided links to buy the DVD or download it from iTunes, actor biographies and images from each film.

Google Knowledge Graph

Google Knowledge Graph

To perform a Knowledge Graph watch lust go to Google.com and type your search query as normal. If Google has a graph relating t0 the topic, a ‘carousel’ of thumbnail results will appear.

At present, Knowledge Graph mainly covers well-known people, events, books and films. Google says it includes more than 570 million ‘entities’, but subjects that have Knowledge Graph are still limited. We found a Knowledge Graph result for ‘Superman movies’ but not for ‘Superman’ alone, for example. Google has a tool that it’s encouraging website owners to use to allow their webpages to be “exposed” in Knowledge Graph searches.

If you don’t see a Knowledge Graph carousel for a topic, try the categorized search at www.snipca.com/9230.

New Voice search options

You might have heard of Siri, the voice-controlled search assistant for the iPhone and iPad. Hold down the Home button on your iPhone or iPad to launch it. You need to have Location Services switched on and be connected to a Wi-Fi or 3G network.

To perform a voice search on an Android tablet or phone, launch the search tool, tap the   microphone and speak your query.

To try the same thing on a desktop PC or laptop go to www.google.com using Chrome, click the grey microphone, then tell Google what you’re looking for. You’ll need to have a mic attached to your PC.

Perform handwritten searches Android users can also search Google using their handwriting. You need to use Chrome and to enable the handwriting feature at www.google.com/preferences. Select Handwrite, Enable, then scroll down and tap Save. Use a fingertip to spell out words in the grey bar at the bottom of the Google homepage. Google will recognize what you write and enter the word in its search box.

Stay up to date with current affairs

Google Current on iOS

Google Current on iOS

If you have an Android or iOS device, Google currents delivers magazine-like content and news without you having to search for it. Download the free app from www.snipca.com/9202 for Android devices or from www.snipca.com/9203 for iPhone and iPad.

Brilliant new Bing tools

Microsoft has integrated its Bing search tool even more closely with Internet Explorer 10. You’ll find personalization tools at www.iegallery.com. One of these is the ability to ‘pin’ sites you like to your taskbar so they’re immediately accessible. You can use lump Lists to get to specific sections of a pinned site too.

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