You may use Google everyday, but the odds are that you are unfamiliar with the full extent of Google’s search capabilities. With the right knowledge, you can use Google to perform fine-tuned searches and to save you time in performing many routine activities. Here are 10 tricks and tips to make the most out of Google for your law practice.
1. Look For Related Websites
You can use Google to search for sites that offer similar content to one another by typing “related:” to followed by a site. For example, let’s say that you regularly use Westlaw.com for your legal research, but are looking for other legal research alternatives. Simply type “related:westlaw.com” and Google offers findlaw.com, lexis.com, and supremecourt.gov as possible alternatives.
2. Use an Asterik To Finish a Question
One efficient method for performing a search to discover the answer to a question is to use an asterisk (*) in the place of the part of question that you want answered. In other words, to discover the date that President George Washington was born, type the following search: “George Washington was born on *”.
3. Use Google to Track Packages
You can use Google directly to track packages shipped through USPS, UPS and FedEx. Simply type the tracking number into Google and hit enter.
4. Search for Similar Terms
If you want your search results to include not just your search term, but related synonyms, simply add a tilde (~) before the word you are using. For example, if you are searching for the term “legal” but want results that include words such as “law” as well, just perform a search for “~legal” and your results will include results that use either “law” or “legal.”
5. Search for Definitions
It may not be Black’s Legal Dictionary, but Google also provides definitions for common words. Just type the word “define” before the word you want defined. For example, if you want to do a search for the definition of “statute” just type “define statute.”
6. Search Public Data
Google makes it easy to search for public data. If you want to know the population of a given area just do a search for the word “population” before the name of the area. For example, if you want to know how many people live in San Francisco, do a search for “population San Francisco” to get the answer based on the last census.
7. Convert Measurements
You can even use Google to convert measurements. For example, if you want to know how many grams are in an ounce, simply type “1 ounce in grams” into Google and it will tell you than there are 28.3495231 grams in 1 ounce. You can do this for distances, measurements, and speeds. It can be helpful if you are dealing with a case where events occurred in another country, or with a patent issued in another country, or simply want to prepare a recipe that uses unfamiliar measurements.
8. Google Calculator
You know that calculator widget you use on your computer? It’s absolutely worthless compared to Google Calculator which is capable of significantly higher level math functions. Want to know what 37 times 56 is? Type “37*56” into Google. Need to know what 2 to the 4th power is? Type “2^4”. The Square root of 49? Type “(sqrt 49)”. You can even mix and match these as necessary.
9. Determine Local Time In Different Time Zones
Do you have any clients in other countries or time zones? You can determine the local time in any country or city in the world by simply typing “time” and then the name of the place. For example, if you type “time Paris” Google will give you the current local time for Paris.
10. Perform a Local Search
Need a hotel for an upcoming business trip? Maybe you want to find a good restaurant to take a client. Simply do a search for the type of establishment you are seeking (i.e. hotel, Italian restaurant, pub, etc.) followed by the zip code of the area you are searching within.
Psst… here is a secret 11th tip. Google has its own version of Pac Man with all of the original sounds. Just go to http://www.google.com/pacman/ to play. Just don’t blame me if your boss catches you playing it when you should be drafting that motion to compel that needs to be filed and served by the end of the day.
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