©2022 Donald R. Snow -- Page last updated 2022-02-22
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ABSTRACT:  Internet search engines are helpful for many things in family history, e.g. finding data, information, locations maps,and much more. This class will discuss Google and its uses, but other search engines have some similar features. The notes for this class and related articles, all with active internet links, are on my website .


  1. Instructor is Donald R. Snow ( ) of Provo and St. George, Utah.
  2. These notes, with active internet links and other related articles, are posted on Don's website .
  3. Tips:  (1)  Easy to put an icon on your desktop for the URL for these notes, or any website, by dragging the icon from in front of the address in your browser to your desktop.  (2)  To open a link from here in another tab, so you can keep your place in these notes, hold down the Control key while clicking the link.
  4. This class will discuss the search engine Google and some of its features that are not well-known. 

  6. Google for the U.S. is -- there are versions for almost 200 countries -- see -- some give different results
  7. Google has a Light Mode and a Dark Mode; change by going to Settings (gear icon) > Appearance > Select the mode you want; Dark Mode is best for my eyesight 

  9. Caps and punctuation are ignored
  10. "word or phrase" (with quotes) finds exactly that vs pages with the search terms on them anywhere
  11. Wildcard:  "*" (asterisk) is any words or phrases between or after the search terms, e.g. anders*n picks up anderson, andersen,  and anderssen 
  12. Stem searches:  brings back whatever starts that way,  e.g. histor brings back history, histories, historic, historian, etc.
  13. Minus sign:  "-term" (no quotes, no space) eliminates hits with that term; helpful to narrow down results when you get too many hits
  14. Number ranges (years, quantity, distance, cost, etc), e.g. "1500..1600" (no quotes) shows hits only in the 1500s; for prices include $ 
  15. Google searches now include synonyms, so "~" (tilde) is not used now
  16. Proximity searches:  "[search term] AROUND(n) [search term]" (no quotes and AROUND is in caps);   n  is the max number of words between the terms -- powerful search tool, but doesn't always work correctly; examples
    1. '"donald r" AROUND(2) snow' (without the outside quotes)
    2. '"Snow" AROUND(100) woburn' (without the outside quotes)
    3. "snow AROUND(10) beman" (without t he quotes)
    4. "aug AROUND(5) 1879"
  17. Boolean searches:  space is same as AND; OR gives one or the other or both 
  18. IN converts measures, money, time, velocity, etc., e.g. "1 British pound IN US money", "20 ounces IN kilograms", and "$2.50 in 1851 IN dollars today" (no quotes)
  19. For correct spelling  type something close, e.g. "irland" and it asks Did you mean Ireland?"; also right click on a misspelled word to get correct spelling or go to Dictionary
  20. "site: snow" (no quotes) searches  only that website
  21. "filetype:pdf " (no quotes); can search for pdfs, geds, jpgs, docs, etc.    
  22. "link:[website]" (no quotes): finds all websites that link to that website
  23. Microphone at right end of Google search box allows dictation of search terms, but you have to have your mic set correctly 
  24. Clicking "I'm Feeling Lucky" takes you directly to the top listed website
  25. Good articles -- Google Advanced Search for Genealogy, Parts 1 and 2 --  and
  26. Google Search Operators --

  28. For any search engine,to get to a hit, hold down the CTRL key when clicking it, so it opens in a new tab and you save your place in the results list without having to go back and scoll down
  29. For any website CTRL-F opens a search box that you can type in your search terms to highlight them on the page 
  30. On the Chrome browser there is a free extension you can install that allows highlighting any terms you want -- MultiHighlight; type in any terms wyou want and it highlights each word in a different color so you can see where they occur.

  32. Google has many other free features such as language translation of words or entire websites, a simple "PowerPoint" program, Googl's MyMaps, and much more.
  33. Try typing your own name into Google in quotation marks and see what comes up.

  34. Return to the  Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group Home Page  or  Don's Class Listings Page .