Dirk Bertels

The greatest malfunction of spirit
is to believe things (Louis Pasteur)

Google Tricks


Google has achieved what few conpanies have, becoming a verb. While most of us google to find information on the net, not many are aware of the powerful capabilities we have at our disposal. The following examples illustrate how you can use the searchbar in more creative ways. Try the examples by copying them into Google's searchbar (use ctrl + c to copy and ctrl + v to paste in order to save time).


Can't count the amount of times I typed something in a document and wasn't sure about the spelling - or what the word actually means. Well there's a simple way of finding out. Use the keyword define, followed with a colon.

define: xenophobia

I chose this word because it is actually a bit of a joke in Australia. When a right wing party leader was asked if she was xenophobic, she replied with Please explain?

The added bonus by using Google as a dictionary is that it looks up the word in various dictionaries, so you get many versions of replies.


Just query Google in everyday English language and up pops a calculator window giving you the result. For example, to convert from Australian dollars to Euros, just type something like

49 Australian dollars in Euros

Google is quite forgiving, you could use the keyword to instead of in. E.g. to convert from feet and inches to cm ...

5ft 10 in to cm

To convert from hex to decimal (frequently used by programmers) ...

0x185AB in decimal

Or converting amounts for recipies ...

5 cups in teaspoons


The same tool that does conversion also does ordinary calculations, such as

(20*7)/34.7 -(-2)

To calculate a modulo (for those of us who can remember what this actually does), you can use the mathematical expression


or a more user friendly expression ...

45 modulo 4

The calculator even returns complex numbers when typing something like

sqrt(-98) - PI

Search engine tools

The first type of Search engine tools don't use keywords; these are more like operators that can fine-tune a search - some of these you probably already know, such as the notion that to return a group of words (in the exact order given) we use quotation marks:

"Bach's organ works"

Assume you're doing a search on Bach, then to return documents ordered by frequency occurance of the word 'Bach', type


To return documents containing the word 'Bach' but not containing the word 'organ'

Bach -organ

You can also use wildcards, e.g. use the dot (.) to represent any letter.


The above query returns documents with the words Bach, bath, bash, etc - you get the picture.

There's a wildcard that replaces whole words. To find documents that have anything to do with fire, type


Use binary operators where appropriate, e.g. to return pages that has the word group site map OR the word sitemap

"site map" | sitemap

Is there no end to this fun you may ask - well, try some more keywords - In the dictionary, we used the keyword define: - as it is, there are many more keywords (all of which need to end with the colon).

Restrict the search to specific domains. E.g. to find sites in Australia containing the word 'minidisc',

site:.au minidisc

Or you can be more specific - finding all documents containing the word Bach on my site:

site:dirkbertels.net Bach

To find documents that contains the word Bach in its title and organ in its text:

intitle:Bach organ

Or documents that contains the word Bach in its URL and recordings in its text:

inurl:Bach recordings

Then there are documents of a particular filetype only, and containing the word Bach:

filetype:pdf Bach

What about you want pages that contain links to a particular site ...


More examples of searches using keywords

The ability of applying keywords to searches can be very powerful - to the point that I hesitated publishing some of the following examples, since they could reveal sensitive material. After some contemplation I decided that since this technique is common knowledge to hackers while it certainly isn't common knowledge to many people in charge of networking, maintaining servers and the like - it should do more good than bad (but feel free to disagree - contact details below).

To locate a particular server, e.g.

"Apache/1.3.28 Server at" intitle:index.of

To find web server pages that appear after instalation of the server ...

intitle:"Welcome to Windows 2000 Internet Services"

Query application-generated system reports

"This report was generated by weblog"

Error Message queries ...

"access denied for user" "using password"

Google queries for locating database records. Careful with this - do not open any links that come up, it may be illegal.

filetype:mdb inurl:users.mdb

Search for particular types of documents. Opening some of these links may compromise people's security which is illegal.

filetype:xls inurl:"email.xls"

Locating network devices ...

intitle:"my webcamXP server!" inurl:":8080"


If you tried some of these queries and noticed some potential victims - please have the decency to notify them of their security risk. If nothing else I think these examples illustrate the power of using keywords and operators in Google. To view the many capabilities of Google, click on more above Google's search window. I hope this rundown of possibilities has been useful, if you know of any other Google tricks - drop me a line (contact details below).