Find People, Maps and MoreIf you're searching for U.S. information, Google can do so much more than just search Web pages. The lookup information they provide through their search box has been expanded to include street maps, street addresses, and phone numbers. Enter a first and last name, city, and state to find a phone number. You can also do a reverse lookup by entering a phone number to find a street address. To use Google to find street maps, just enter a street address, city, and state (i.e. 8601 Adelphi Road College Park MD), in the Google search box. You can also find business listings by entering the name of a business and its location or zip code (i.e. tgn.com utah).
Pictures from the PastGoogle's image search feature makes it easy to locate photos on the Web. Just click on the Images tab on Google's home page and type in a keyword or two to view a results page full of image thumbnails. To find photos of specific people try putting their first and last names within quotes (i.e. "laura ingalls wilder"). If you've got a bit more time or a more unusual surname, then just entering the surname should be enough. This feature is also a great way to find photos of old buildings, tombstones, and even your ancestor's hometown. Because Google doesn't crawl for images as often as it does for Web pages, you may find many pages/images have moved. If the page doesn't come up when you click on the thumbnail, then you may be able to find it by copying the URL from below the feature, pasting it into the Google search box, and using the "cache" feature.
Glancing Through Google GroupsIf you've got a bit of time on your hands, then check out the Google Groups search tab available from the Google home page. Find info on your surname, or learn from the questions of others by searching through an archive of over 700 million Usenet newsgroup messages going back as far as 1981. If you've got even more time on your hands, then check out this historical Usenet timeline for a fascinating diversion.
Narrow Your Search by File TypeTypically when you search the Web for information you expect to pull up traditional Web pages in the form of HTML files. Google offers results in a variety of different formats, however, including .PDF (Adobe Portable Document Format), .DOC (Microsoft Word), .PS (Adobe Postscript), and .XLS (Microsoft Excel). These files appear among your regular search results listings where you can either view them in their original format, or use the View as HTML link (good for when you don't have the application that is needed for that particular file type, or for when computer viruses are a concern). You can also use the filetype command to narrow your search to find documents in particular formats (i.e. filetype:xls genealogy forms). You aren't likely to use this Google feature often, but I have used it to find genealogy brochures in PDF format and family group sheets and other genealogy forms in Microsoft Excel format.
If you're someone like me who uses Google quite a bit, then you may want to consider downloading and using the Google Toolbar (requires Internet Explorer Version 5 or later and Microsoft Windows 95 or later). When the Google Toolbar is installed, it automatically appears along with the Internet Explorer toolbar and makes it easy to use Google to search from any Web site location, without returning to the Google home page to begin another search. A variety of buttons and a drop-down menu make it easy to perform all of the searches described in this article with just a click or two.
Best wishes for a successful search!