Thursday, August 11, 2005

Using Wildcards on Google to Improve Searching

If you're searching the web for an answer to a specific question such as "Who invented the parachute?", Google's implementation of wildcards will help you narrow your search results. Using an asterisk ( * ) you can "fill in the blanks". So, to quickly find an answer to the above question you could type the parachute was invented by *. Or, if you heard a song on the radio and you want to find out who the artist is, but you can only remember a few words of the song, you could type if you're happy and you know it * your hands. Keep in mind, however, that it will also find ...wash your hands, ...raise your hands, etc.

Using wildcards to finish off a word instead of a phrase as in the above examples doesn't work like you would expect it to on Google. For example digital photo* will not search digital photography, digital photograph, digital photographer. Instead, you can type digital photograph and Google will also search similar words. I personally would like to see Google implement partial word wildcards in the future. Using wildcards in a phrase is pretty cool and can really help you narrow down your search when sifting through the barrage of information that is the web. (Sources: Google, BetaNews)

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