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6 Google Tricks When You Don’t Know What to Search For

Despite spending millions of dollars on fancy algorithms, Google Search can sometimes be a fickle beast. You know that the information you’re looking for is out there, but no matter what search terms you enter, you can’t find a suitable result.

But don’t worry. If you don’t know what to search for in Google, there are a few tricks you can try that might prove useful.

So today, we’re going to look at a few different ways to help you search for something. Keep reading to learn more.

1. Wildcard Search Operator

google wildcard when you don't know what to search

Google’s wildcard search operator is useful if you…

  • Don’t know a particular word in a phrase you’re looking for.
  • Want to search for multiple results around a base phrase.

To use the wildcard search operator, just type an asterisk (*) in place of the world you’re not sure about.

For example, let’s suppose you’ve heard a great song on the radio, but you can’t make out a certain word. You could type “We all live on a * submarine.” The Google results would show you any results that match the phrase. You might see results like “We all live on a yellow submarine,” “We all live on a big submarine,” “We all live on an old submarine,” and so on.

Similarly, you could use the Google wildcard search operator to look for results around a theme. For instance, if you search for “reliable * provider,” search results might include “reliable internet provider,” “reliable web hosting provider,” “reliable VPN provider,” etc.

2. Find Related Sites

google related sites when you don't know what to search

The Related Sites tool lets you find any sites that are similar to the domain you enter into the search. The trick is especially useful if you’re researching a niche subject and want to find other sites that discuss the same topic, but you don’t know what to search for.

The tool primarily works by analyzing the backlinks pointing to a domain and listing sites that have similar sets of backlinks (for those who don’t know, “backlinks” is a fancy way of describing other sites that have linked to an external domain/page). Thematic relevance also plays a part; the thematic information is chiefly sourced from Google Ads data.

To use the Related Sites tool, just type related:[domain] (with no space). For example, if you enter, you’ll get a list of other tech blogs that provide similar (but worse!) content to ours.

3. Exclude Words

exclude words to help google search

If you want to search for something but you keep getting a list of unrelated results, a great way to refine your query is to exclude particular words.

The ability to exclude words is useful if a list of search results is dominated by a particular person or company. You can exclude a word by typing a directly before the word. You can also add more than one excluded word.

For example, if you search for “Liverpool,” almost all the results on the first couple of pages show links for Liverpool FC, the English soccer club. To see results about the city rather than the team, you could type “Liverpool -football -soccer -fc” to force Google to omit any results about Jurgen Klopp’s side.

4. Find Results Within a Range of Numbers

google price range computer don't know what to search

You can add two periods (..) between search terms to find results within a specific range of numbers. The trick is perfect when you want to search for something in a specific price range or at a certain point in time, but you don’t know what to look up.

For example, let’s imagine you’re trying to research 19th-century American history. If you type “USA 1800..1900” into Google Search, you will get a list of results about the country that specifically relate to that period in history.

Similarly, you can use the trick to find items to buy that fit within your budget. Typing “computer $100..$200” would reveal any product listings and articles about machines in the $100 to $200 price range.

5. Multiple Missing Words

google around search tool

We’ve looked at how to use an asterisk as a wildcard operator, but what options do you have when there are multiple words that you’re unsure of? If you don’t know the majority of the phrase or query that you need to look up, is it possible to still find what you need?

Yes! The solution is to use the AROUND operator. Simply type AROUND followed by an estimated number of missing words in brackets, for example, AROUND(4).

So, let’s use the example of a paragraph in a book. Specifically, this phrase from To Kill a Mockingbird:

“Mockingbirds don’t do one thing except make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corn cribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

To look for the phrase using the AROUND tool, you could type “Mockingbird AROUND(25) sing their hearts out” (note there are actually 28 missing words). Google would then be able to locate the quote.

6. Google Image Search

google image search

You’re walking along the street one day and see a great painting or photograph. But what is the subject matter? Who is the artist? How old is the image? It’s impossible to know what to search for if you don’t have the faintest idea about what you’re looking at in the first place.

Rather than typing an entirely unsatisfactory description into Google and hoping for the best, it makes much more sense to try and do a Google image search. You can perform an image search from both your computer and your mobile device. Just take a photo of the item in question and see if Google can match it to an image somewhere else on the web.

To perform an image search on mobile, you first need to open and request the desktop version of the site using your browser’s settings menu. To begin the search process, tap on the Camera icon.

We’ve written about the best Google Image hacks

7 Vital Google Image Search Hacks

7 Vital Google Image Search Hacks

Want to use Google Images like a pro? Here are advanced tips you should know for successful image searches
Read More

if you’d like to read more.

Learn More About Using Google Search

The six tricks we’ve discussed in this article will all help when you don’t know what to look up. If you’ve got any other ideas for what to do when you don’t know what to search for, let us know in the comments below.

And if you’d like to learn more about using Google Search, make sure you read our other article on how to customize Google’s search results

How to Customize Google Search Results (And Add Extra Features)

How to Customize Google Search Results (And Add Extra Features)

Did you know that you can change both the look and the functionality of Google’s search results? Download these extensions today.
Read More


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Apple TV+ is Available Now, Don’t Forget to Activate Your Free Year – Review Geek

If you purchased Apple hardware such as an iPhone after September 10, you’re probably eligible for a free year of Apple’s new subscription video streaming service, Apple TV+, which happens to be launching today (November 1).

Back in September, Apple announced that Apple TV+ would launch with eight original series and one original documentary, which would be expanded every month with new Apple originals. The content is served up ad-free and on-demand with streaming support for up to six family members. Features include the ability to download and watch content offline, and support for 4K HDR and Dolby Atmos.

Pricing is set at $4.99 per month and in addition to a free trial for seven days, Apple launched a promotion alongside its announcement in September that includes a free year of Apple TV+ with any purchase of a new iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, or Apple TV. If you’ve purchased one of these qualifying devices, after you activate the device you have three months to claim the free year of Apple TV+.

Apple TV+ Offer
This is toward the bottom of Apple’s iPhone page. Apple

Folks who have purchased a new qualifying Apple device during the promotion can activate their free year of Apple TV+ by simply logging in to the service with the Apple ID that’s associated with your new device. Once logged in, you should see a tappable message that reads something like “Enjoy 1 Year Free.” Tap and enjoy.

Note that if you’re using the free year-long trial, you might want to set a reminder to unsubscribe toward the end of that trial if you don’t want to pay the $4.99 subscription fee, seeing as Apple already has your payment information. If you unsubscribe sooner, you’ll lose access to the service. Nothing unusual but it can be easy to lose track of a subscription over the course of a month much less a year.

Besides watching Apple TV+ through the Apple TV app on Apple’s own hardware, the app is also available through some Samsung smart TVs and there are plans to launch the software on more smart TVs and streaming devices going forward. Of note, the fine print on the offer for a free year of Apple TV+ also applies to refurbished iPhones including those from the iPhone Upgrade Program. It’s also not restricted to any specific location of purchase—resellers included.

“Customers who purchase any new iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac or iPod touch starting September 10 can enjoy one year of Apple TV+ for free. Beginning November 1, customers can initiate the one-year free offer in the Apple TV app on the device running the latest software. Customers have three months after device activation to claim the offer, or if the device was purchased and activated before the launch of Apple TV+, they will have three months starting November 1. The subscription will automatically renew at $4.99 per month after one year. Customers can cancel at any time in Settings at least one day before each renewal date. Customers who cancel during the offer period will forfeit the remainder of their offer. This limited time offer applies to both new and refurbished models, including devices from the iPhone Upgrade Program, is not restricted to any specific sales channel (e.g., Apple Store, resellers) and will be available in all countries where Apple TV+ will launch. Up to six family members can share one Apple TV+ subscription and watch using their own Apple ID and password. Only one one-year offer is available per family, regardless of the number of devices purchased.”

As mentioned, today marks the maiden voyage of Apple TV+ and whether you’ve purchased a subscription or gotten a year for free, the video streaming service should be open for business. Content available at launch includes all of the shows below, which are all-new exclusives for Apple TV+:

  • See, an epic drama starring Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard, is set 600 years in the future after a virus has decimated humankind and rendered the remaining population blind. When all humanity has lost the sense of sight, humans must adapt and find new ways to survive.
  • The Morning Show, a cutthroat drama starring and executive produced by Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, and starring Steve Carell, explores the world of morning news and the ego, ambition and the misguided search for power behind the people who help America wake up in the morning.
  • Dickinson, a darkly comedic coming-of-age story, explores the constraints of society, gender and family through the lens of rebellious young poet, Emily Dickinson.
  • For All Mankind, a new series from Ronald D. Moore, imagines what would have happened if the global space race never ended and the space program remained the cultural centerpiece of America’s hopes and dreams.
  • Helpsters, a new children’s series from the makers of “Sesame Street,” stars Cody and a team of vibrant monsters who love to help solve problems. It all starts with a plan.
  • Snoopy in Space,  a new original from Peanuts Worldwide and DHX Media, takes viewers on a journey with Snoopy as he follows his dreams to become an astronaut. Together, Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the Peanuts crew take command of the International Space Station and explore the moon and beyond.
  • Ghostwriter, a reinvention of the beloved original series, follows four kids who are brought together by a mysterious ghost in a neighborhood bookstore, and must team up to release fictional characters from works of literature.
  • The Elephant Queen, an acclaimed documentary film and cinematic love letter to a species on the verge of extinction, follows a majestic matriarch elephant and her herd on an epic journey of life, loss and homecoming.
  • Oprah Winfrey joins the world’s most compelling authors in conversation as she builds a vibrant, global book club community and other projects to connect with people around the world and share meaningful ways to create positive change.

Here are some of the shows that will be added over the coming months:

  • Servant, a new psychological thriller from M. Night Shyamalan, follows a Philadelphia couple in mourning after an unspeakable tragedy creates a rift in their marriage and opens the door for a mysterious force to enter their home.
  • Truth Be Told, a gripping new series starring Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer and Emmy Award winner Aaron Paul, explores America’s obsession with true crime podcasts and navigates urgent concerns about privacy, media and race.
  • Little America, inspired by the true stories featured in Epic Magazine, brings to life the funny, romantic, heartfelt, inspiring and surprising stories of immigrants in America.
  • The Banker, a feature film inspired by a true story, stars Anthony Mackie and Samuel L. Jackson as two African American entrepreneurs who try to circumvent the racial limitations of the 1950s and quietly provide housing loans to the African American community in Jim Crow Texas. Nia Long and Nicholas Hoult also star.
  • Hala, a feature film and official selection of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, follows a high school senior struggling to balance being a suburban teenager with her traditional Muslim upbringing.

Source: Apple (2) via Gizmodo

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Spotify’s New Kid’s App Curates Your Children’s Music So You Don’t Have To – Review Geek

The Spotify Kids Logo

Spotify is testing a new Kid’s app for Premium Family subscribers, and it might save your sanity. The standalone app will feature human-curated music, playlists, and kid-friendly graphics. All while keeping music your little ones aren’t ready for out of sight.

Goodbye Sweeney Todd

Not sure I want my seven-year-old listening to Sweeney Todd and Moulin Rouge.

If you want to let your young children use Spotify, you currently have two basic choices: let them use your account or create an account for them and try to curate it by hand. Neither choice is great.

Choosing to share your account with your children means you’ll find your playlists and Daily Mix suggestions taken over by Disney music and TV show theme songs.

And creating a separate account isn’t great either. Spotify’s controls for children are less than adequate. It’s only recently that the service even added explicit filters, for one. And blocking explicit songs still isn’t perfect. You may encounter some songs that should be marked explicit but aren’t yet (that’s quickly improving). And just because a song isn’t explicit doesn’t mean it’s kid-appropriate.

The above screenshot comes from a seven-year old’s Spotify account. Spotify noticed he favors Disney music, so clearly, he likes musicals. Thus it suggested music from Sweeny Todd. That’s the problem with algorithm-generated playlists and suggestions; computers don’t understand context like a human can. And that’s where the new Spotify Kid’s app (available in Ireland to start, but coming to more countries soon) comes in to play.

A Shiny App with Human Curated Playlists

Spotify graphics showing kid-friendly avatars.

The Spotify Kid’s app (available for iOS and Android if you’re in Ireland) looks completely different from the standard Spotify app. For instance, the colors are brighter, and your children get to pick a cute avatar that looks like something out of the Endless Alphabet app.

But more importantly, all the music your children will have access to is human-curated. Someone somewhere listened to the song and confirmed it’s child-appropriate. When you create your child’s account, you can choose from two age categories to determine what kind of music they can hear. The Younger Kids grouping sticks to music from Disney and children’s stories. Older kids get access to pop songs that are still family appropriate.

The app is also ad-free, and Spotify won’t sell data from it to third-party advertisers. The company did specify it will only share data to third-parties for select reasons, like connecting to your smart TV.
That makes the Kid’s app a better choice from a privacy standpoint than using a full-blown account on the official app. Spotify didn’t specify when the app will roll out to other markets, but you can keep an out at the Kid’s site for more information.

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Getting pushed off Win10 1803? Don’t let Microsoft make you move to 1903.

I’m seeing reports that Microsoft is getting pushy trying to get folks off of Win10 version 1803.

For example, Terry Muench on AskWoody says:

Thank you Microsoft for force-feeding me W10 v1903. I have been blocking it (first v1809) for months using WUShowHide. On Sat 10/19/2019 I got the DREADED (We’re here to help you) UpdateAssistant popup giving me a few minutes to save my work before starting the Upgrade. Fortunately I was able to Cancel. I checked the #4 UpdateAssistant Tasks in Task Scheduler — which I had Disabled — and Microsoft had re-Enabled them. I Disabled them AGAIN and thought I was set.

No such luck. Later in the day I got the popup again, and cancelled again. Yet later I was remoting to another machine to backup an Oracle VBox VMDK (virtual drive) and forgot about UpdateAssistant. When I checked back on the Desktop it was too late — the Upgrade was underway. I think KB4023814 was responsible for UpdateAssistant running amok.

I hope others can learn from this. MICROSOFT IS GOING TO PUSH those on v1803 — which ‘expires’ on Nov 12 — to Upgrade to v1903. By any means necessary.

If you aren’t yet ready to move to 1903 — the five buggy patches we’ve seen in the past six weeks (KB 4515384, 4522016, 4517211, 4524147, 4517389) might, uh, give one pause — you can still manually move from 1803 to 1809, if you’re using Win10 Pro. 

There are detailed step-by-step instructions in my Aug. 12 article, Is Windows pushing you to upgrade? Don’t be bullied. There’s a middle path. In Step 2, use 180 days for the feature update deferral setting. That’s all it takes. You’ll end up with Win10 version 1809. That’s the version I use on my production machines.

Win10 Home customers aren’t so lucky. You need to use the metered connection kludge and even then there’s no guarantee that Microsoft will keep its mitts off.

You’ll have to move off 1803 at some point, but official patches should be good until December Patch Tuesday at least. 

Don’t let Microsoft push you until you feel comfortable making the leap. We’ll help at AskWoody.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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You Probably Don’t Need a Screen Protector – Review Geek

A man applies a screen protector to his phone.
Nor Gal/Shutterstock

Screen protectors are sold as a necessity, but they’re not as useful as they used to be. In fact, ditching the screen protector can save you money and make your phone more pleasant to use.

Gorilla Glass Is Tougher Than Common Metals

The original iPhone was the first smartphone to use a glass screen instead of a plastic screen. But Apple didn’t use just any glass; the company relied on a “Gorilla Glass” developed by a company called Corning.

Today, Corning supplies Gorilla Glass for most smartphone manufacturers. Gorilla Glass 6, the newest of Corning’s formulas, is tougher than the glass that came on the original iPhone (or even the glass that came with your last phone). Gorilla Glass is harder than the common metals that you’ll find in keys and knives, and it can handle being thrown at the ground multiple times.

In other words, your phone’s screen is a lot harder to break than it used to be. Screen protectors used to be an essential item, but they’re hardly a necessity these days. But Gorilla Glass isn’t perfect, right? Aren’t there some situations that call for a screen protector?

Screen Protectors Are (Sometimes) Useful

A man picks his broken phone off the ground. He is sad.
Vera Petruina/Shutterstock

Screen protectors look disgusting. They get scratched up quickly, and they make your screen less vibrant. Plus, the plastic screen protectors are really good at holding onto finger grease, which is a gross reminder of humanity’s myriad bodily functions.

But screen protectors aren’t useless yet. Gorilla Glass may be strong enough to withstand a good drop, but it can still be scratched by rocks, sand, and rare metals (like diamonds). Your phone will look like hell if it ever skids across a gravel parking lot, and it’ll be covered in micro-scratches if you ever stick it in a pocket full of sand.

When’s the last time that either of those things happened to you? Freak accidents just don’t happen that often. Sure, it’s nice to have a screen protector when something terrible happens. And hey, if you work in a battlefield or you have terrible luck, then a screen protector’s probably worth buying. But for most people, freak accidents are so rare that a screen replacement may be cheaper, easier, and more tolerable than installing a new screen protector every month.

Consider Carrier Insurance or Local Repair Shops

A phone repairman opens up a phone to replace its screen.
Vlad Teodor/Shutterstock

Screen protectors aren’t nearly as important as they used to be. They add a bit of extra protection to your phone, but that additional protection isn’t always necessary. Think of it like wearing knee pads while riding a bike. They’re super ugly, but they might come in handy during a freak accident.

The thing is, phone screens are pretty easy to replace (easier than your kneecaps). A local repair shop should be able to replace your phone screen for around $100—and that’s not too far off from what you might pay for a year’s worth of $15 screen protectors. If you don’t mind walking into a store and interacting with a real human being, then the screen protector may be worth skipping.

You can take this a step further with carrier insurance or Apple Care. Most carrier insurance plans offer screen replacements at a discounted rate–usually between $20 and $30. Sure, these insurance plans are a bit expensive (around $100 a year), but they also cover lost, stolen, and defective devices at a low rate (or for free).

Either way, screen protectors are no longer a life-or-death decision. They’re a form of protection that can be replaced or supplemented by carrier insurance or your local repair shop, and you probably won’t miss your screen protector should you choose to ditch it.

Okay, but What If I Still Want a Screen Protector?

A person applies a plastic screen protector to their phone.

If you work in construction, have terrible luck, or want to resell your phone at the end of the year, then a screen protector may be worth using. But screen protectors come in all sorts of flavors, so we’re going to go through each type of screen protector to make shopping a bit easier for you.

Here are the four types of screen protectors:

  • Tempered Glass: These bad boys are way tougher than plastic screen protectors, they feel nice, and they’re really easy to apply to your screen. But they can make your phone feel like a bubbly kids toy.
  • Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET): These plastic screen protectors are super cheap, thin, light, and smooth. They’re difficult to install, and they’re not that tough, but they’re nearly invisible once they’re applied to your screen.
  • Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU): Most plastic screen protectors are made of TPU. It’s a thin, flexible plastic that feels weird and is challenging to install. But it’s thinner than glass and tougher than PET screen protectors, so there’s that.
  • Liquid Screen Protectors: Yes, liquid screen protectors are a thing. They can prevent some scratches, but that’s about it. A liquid screen protector won’t save your phone from a disastrous accident, and it’s kind of hard to tell when you need to reapply the stuff.

We suggest sticking with tempered glass or PET screen protectors. If you’re tired of whatever screen protector you’ve been using, try pivoting to a different type to see how you like it. Or, you know, stop using screen protectors altogether.

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