20 tech habits to improve your life

A few new habits can make the difference between staying on task, finding what you need, and getting things done--or having a tech meltdown.

19. Master Search Techniques to Pinpoint Files or Web Sites



Drill down through millions of search results for popular Google search terms by mastering advanced search operators. Enclose phrases and proper names in quotes (as in "Don't tase me bro" or "Michael Phelps") to get exact-phrase matches. Use the + and - signs to specify meaning, especially for words that have more than one definition (for example, salsa –dance), and use the filetype: operator to find certain kinds of documents (as in budget filetype:xls).

You can even search for all the ingredients in your fridge with the word recipe to figure out what to have for dinner tonight.

Then, take your search chops to your desktop, where organizing files in an elaborate folder scheme is no longer necessary. Use Windows Vista's Saved Search folders to build a dynamic store of all the files that contain the term "NYC," for instance, or all the digital photos taken on your birthday.

Gmail's built-in e-mail search capabilities are also killer. Use the from:, to:, and subject: operators to find specific messages, as in from:"Bill Gates" subject:"dinner date".

More: Advanced Google: Search Faster, Find More

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