Q&A: Using Google Advanced Search

Q I perform a lot of Internet searches using Google Advanced Search, usually with date ranges set, for example to return results only from the last month. No matter which browser I use, I seem unable to set any of these as a default, or for them to be automatically completed. This makes such searches relatively tedious, slow, and prone to error. Is there anything to help?

A Safari is one of the better-performing browsers when it comes to auto-completion, but the way in which Google has configured its Advanced Search page appears to prevent this from working, to complete any of the fields automatically. Auto-completion is a relatively fragile feature, as it relies on clues in the page source, and only seems to work well with common items such as name and address on certain sites. There does not appear to be any way of getting the Google Advanced Search dialog to work more efficiently, although perhaps another reader knows of a better strategy.

You might explore constructing search command strings to achieve the same that the Advanced Search dialog achieves, using a text editor: this is a powerful interface with Google that is surprisingly little known. Google provides information about search operators and filtering search results.

Fuller details are given for Google and other search engines at Beyond. You may also find Google Guide (independent from Google) of interest; their ‘cheat sheet’ is here.

Updated from the original, which was first published in MacUser volume 27 issue 15, 2011.