Don’t be U2: Find What Your Looking For—w/ Search Operators

Many of us slap a search phrase into Google and hope for the best. But Google has many underutilized search “operators” that help us avoid U2’s fate and actually find what we’re looking for—at least on the interweb.

Think of search operators like commands. When Google sees these commands, it triggers Google to change the way they serve up their results.

These can help you significantly refine your searches, but keep in mind that it’s typically best to start broad, then narrow down. Google’s mountains of algorithms are advanced enough these days that searching with everyday language normally serves you what you’re looking for, but if it doesn’t some of the below might help.

OperatorDescriptionExample Use
allintitle:Limits results to pages where the query appears in the title of the document.allintitle:keyword
Get pages with “keyword” in the title.
site:Limit results to a specific website.keyword site:example.com

Gets pages about “keyword” but only on “example.com”
quotes:Limits results to pages where the query appears in the exact order and phrasing.quotes:"exact phrase"
Gets pages with the exact phrase.
– (i.e., the minus sign)Excludes pages containing the specified term from search results.keyword -unwanted
Gets pages with “keyword” but not “unwanted.”
| (i.e., the OR symbol)(pipe symbol)Allows multiple terms in one search query. Think of this like OR.
.. (double period)range of numbers (e.g., years for publication dates)2010..2020
Gets for content published between 2010 and 2020
intext:Limits results to pages where the specified term appears in the body of the document.intext:keyword – Locate pages containing “keyword” in the content.
filetype:Limits results to pages of a specific file type.filetype:pdf – Find PDF documents on the topic.
link:Limits results to pages that link to the specified URL.link:example.com – Find pages linking to “example.com.”
allinurl:Limits results to pages where the specified term appears in the URL.allinurl:topic – Discover pages with “topic” in the URL.
around(n):Limits results to pages where the query appears within n words of another term.keyword around(5) context – Find “keyword” near “context” with a 5-word proximity.
before:Limits results to pages published before a specified date.before:2022-01-01 – Search for content published before January 1, 2022.
after:Limits results to pages published after a specified date.after:2022-01-01 – Find content published after January 1, 2022.
related:Displays a list of websites related to the specified website.related:example.com – Discover websites related to “example.com.”
info:Displays information about a website, such as owner and creation date.info:example.com – Get information about “example.com.”
inanchor:Limits results to pages where the specified term appears in anchor text of a link.inanchor:keyword – Find pages with links containing “keyword” in anchor text.
daterange:Limits results to pages published between two specified dates.daterange:20220101..20221231 – Search for content published in 2022.
publicdomain:Limits results to pages that are in the public domain.publicdomain:keyword – Find public domain content on a topic.
lang:Limits results to pages in a specific language.lang:en – Search for content in English.
intitle:AND intext:Requires specified terms to appear both in the title and body of the document.intitle:keyword AND intext:topic – Find pages with “keyword” in the title and “topic” in the content.
inurl:OR intitle:Requires specified terms to appear either in the URL or title of the document.inurl:term1 OR intitle:term2 – Search for pages with “term1” in the URL or “term2” in the title.
intitle:newsLimits results to pages with “NEWS” in the title, useful for news articles.intitle:news – Find news articles with “NEWS” in the title.
site:news.google.comLimits results to pages on Google News for news-related searches.site:news.google.com – Search for news content on Google News.
site:.exampleLimits results to domains containing a specific word.site:.example – Discover domains containing “example” in the URL.
allinanchor:Limits results to pages where the specified term appears in anchor text.allinanchor:keyword – Find pages with anchor text containing “keyword.”
daterange:YYYYMMDD..YYYYMMDDLimits results to pages published within a date range.daterange:20220101..20221231 – Search for content published between January 1, 2022, and December 31, 2022.
site:socialmedia.comLimits results to a specific social media platform.site:socialmedia.com – Search within a particular social media platform.
site:stackoverflow.comLimits results to questions and answers on Stack Overflow.site:stackoverflow.com – Find Q&A content on Stack Overflow.
site:pubmed.govLimits results to scientific articles in PubMed.site:pubmed.gov – Search for scientific articles on PubMed.
site:scholar.google.comLimits results to scholarly articles indexed by Google Scholar.site:scholar.google.com – Find scholarly articles on Google Scholar.
site:caselaw.govLimits results to legal cases and decisions from U.S. federal courts.site:caselaw.gov – Search for legal cases and decisions.
cache:Displays the cached version of a web page from Google’s servers.cache:example.com – View the cached version of “example.com.”
define:Provides definitions of a specified word or term.define:term – Get definitions for “term.”
info:urlDisplays information about a specific URL, similar to the info: operator.info:url – Get information about a specific URL.
site:linkedin.comLimits results to LinkedIn profiles and pages.site:linkedin.com – Search for content on LinkedIn.
site:pinterest.comLimits results to Pinterest boards and pins.site:pinterest.com – Find Pinterest boards and pins.
site:wikipedia.orgLimits results to Wikipedia pages.site:wikipedia.org – Search within Wikipedia.
inurl:Limits results to pages where the specified term appears in the URL, similar to allinurl:.inurl:keyword – Find pages with “keyword” in the URL.
group:Searches within Google Groups discussions.group:discussion – Search within Google Groups discussions.
inauthor:Limits results to pages where the specified term appears in the author’s name or byline.inauthor:author – Find content by a specific author.
movie:Displays information about a specific movie, including showtimes, cast, and reviews.movie:movie title – Get details about a movie by its title.
music:Provides information about a specific song, artist, or album.music:song title – Get information about a song by its title.
map:Displays a map of a specified location or address.map:location – View a map of a specific location or address.
stocks:Provides stock market information for a specific company.stocks:company name – Get stock market information for a company.
book:Searches for books by title, author, or ISBN and provides book-related information.book:book title – Find information about a book by its title.
movie:Searches for movies by title or actor and provides movie-related information.movie:movie title – Find details about a movie by its title.
music:Searches for music albums, songs, or artists and provides music-related information.music:artist name – Get information about a music artist.
List of useful Google search operators

Other Ways to Find What You’re Looking for on the Interwebs

Gwern has one of the most comprehensive guides for finding stuff on the internet that I’ve yet discovered.