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Advanced Search

Now that we have mastered the art of basic searching we can move toward a bit more precision.

Most of the search engines have an ADVANCE SEARCH option. What these do is place the more difficult search strings into a point-and-click interface. Well? What is going on behind that closed door?

Let's begin by breaking down a search into 3 types: ANY, ALL, and PHRASE. We will also include the wildcard.

ANY: Type as many consecutive words as you want and press SEARCH. This will return web sites containing ANY of the words in your search phrase. Periodically this type of searching comes with a free pair of waders. (i.e. herb garden Echinacea)

ALL: Type as many consecutive words as you want, separated by an AND, and press SEARCH. This will return web sites containing ALL of the words in your search phrase. (i.e. herb AND garden AND Echinacea)

PHRASE: Type two words or more constructing a phrase and place quotations around it. This will return web sites containing the exact PHRASE within the quotes. (i.e. "The Solar System Ors")

WILDCARD - *: The asterisk acts a "wildcard" in our search strings. If it is included it will bring back EVERYTHING possible pertaining to its position. (i.e. comp*). This will return web sites containing comp, computer, compensate, compactor, company, etc.

So let's do some precision searching for a while.


Yahoo | Hotbot | Infoseek | Webcrawler | Excite
Alta Vista | Lycos | AOL | MSN | Snap

Once this becomes second-nature to you, we can crank up the volume a bit and introduce you to George Boole. George was the inventor of mathematical logic.

Boole's idea was to represent information only with the two logic states true or false. Later, Claude Shannon transferred the two logic states to electronic circuits and we have AND, OR, & NOT gates.

Using "Boolean Logic", as it is called, we can build more refined searches as well as quite complex queries.

Here is a look at how we can use AND, OR, & NOT.

AND: Using AND will return web sites with ALL of the words, or phrases, in a search string. Remember the quotation marks if you are looking for a phrase. (i.e. "newbie" AND "advanced search" AND "George Boole")

OR: Using OR will return web sites with ANY of the words or phrases. (i.e. "newbie" OR "advanced search" OR "George Boole"). This is much like the ANY routine on top except that you can include phrases as well.

NOT: Using NOT allows us to return web sites with one phrase and NOT the other. It is very useful in narrowing things down when we are overloaded with results. (i.e. "advanced search" NOT "George Boole"). This will return all listed web sites with "advanced search" in it, but not containing "George Boole".

COMPLEX: Using COMPLEX searches we can combine all of these things together. We can also use parentheses to increase our searching power. Here are 2 examples:

  • "advanced search" AND ((newbie AND simple) OR "George Boole")

This will return web sites with either "advanced search" AND "newbie" AND "simple" contained in it...OR sites containing "advanced search" AND "George Boole". Make sense? Let's try another one.

  • ((newbie OR simple) NOT "George Boole") AND (computers OR "advanced search")

This will return web sites with "newbie" OR "simple" and NOT "George Boole" and also with "computers" OR "advanced search" contained therein. Whew! You are getting it.


We can also use the plus (+) and the minus (-) signs in our search. Pretty straight forward. If you have a + before a word (with no space) it requires that all returned pages contain that search term.  If you have a minus before the word (with no space) it will exclude all pages containing that search term. Let's try some more examples.

  • newbie +computers

This will return only pages mentioning "computers", but pages that also mention "newbie" will be ranked higher in the results.

  • newbie -computers

This will return pages with "newbie" in it, but DO NOT have computers in it.


Sometimes the same site comes up many times. So many, in fact that it clogs the search -- so to speak. Or, maybe you just don't like the site or want it to come up. Well, if you just type your search word(s) and then put a minus sign followed by the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) -- this is a fancy word/acronym for the web address -- it will exclude this site from your search. Like this:

  • newbie

This will bring us pages with "newbie" in it but will exclude the site ""


There may be times that you are looking for a program or other files to download and/or install on your computer. There are many ways to do this. To begin with you can check out the sites listed below. These sites are devoted to just that.

Also, most search engines that you visit will have a download link that will bring you to the "software download" section of their site.

A third method is to visit a search engine and type in "download software" and press ENTER. Examine the results. Do you know what you want? This is good. If you want something for animation you could try type "download animation software" (no quotes) and select from these results. You get the idea. This can be refined as needed. 

When you find the software you need, or want to experiment with, click on the link and save the file to a specific directory on your computer. When it is through downloading you can execute the file from the chosen directory to install and/or view it..