If you are a user of Exalead (http://www.exalead.com/search/) and use the filetype command you will need to make note of some changes to the file extensions. If you are looking for Excel spreadsheets you will now have to include ‘filetype:excel’ in your search strategy, for PowerPoint it is ‘filetype:powerpoint’ and for Word documents type in ‘filetype:word’. I assume that the changes are to ensure that the ‘new’ Microsoft Office 2007 extensions pptx, docx and xlsx are picked up. Alternatively, you could run just a keyword search and select the filetype from the menu down the right hand side of the results page.
In Google you have to run separate command line searches if you want to pick up both ppt and pptx files. The advanced search screen file format drop-down menu options only search for pre Microsoft Office 2007 file extensions. Bing does not seem to recognise the newer file extensions at all but you can search for them in Yahoo using the ‘originurlextension:’ command. Like Google, Yahoo’s advanced search screen file format box does not pick up the 2007 extensions.
Most people who use Microsoft Office 2007 generally convert files to 97-2003 format before uploading them to the web, but Office 2010 is well into beta testing and the new extensions will start to become more commonplace. It will be interesting to see if and how Google, Yahoo and Bing manage search for these new filetypes.
One of the Top 10 Tips that participants of my advanced search workshops regularly come up with is using file format options to focus your search. If you are looking for an expert on a topic, a conference presentation or a quick overview of a topic then seek out PowerPoint files; government and industry reports are often stored as PDFs; and substantial collections of statistics may be left in Excel format. Both Google and Yahoo have options for file type searches on their advanced search screens, but if you want a quick and easy way of searching both of these search tools for the four main file types (Word, Excel, PDF, PowerPoint), then head for DocJax.
Simply type your search terms into the box and DocJax will pull up a list of all four file formats in Yahoo and Google that contain your terms. You can then limit your search to just one file type by clicking on one of the four logos at the top of the list.
I have only one minor quibble with DocJax, which is that it does not deduplicate the results. Other than that, it is an excellent tool for filetype searching. Many thanks to Peter Guillaume for alerting me to the service.
If you prefer to search Yahoo and Google separately, then try Browsys Advanced Finder. Select Files form the menu at the top of the screen, enter your search terms and click on Yahoo or Google for your preferred file type. There is no need to re-enter your search terms for each search – just click your way through the list.
I usually berate such services for not including Bing (formerly Microsoft Live Search) in their lists because Bing does sometimes come up with unique content. Although not included in Bing’s advanced search options one used to be able to simply incorporate the filetype: command followed by the file extension in the search. On testing it today, though, I discovered that the filetype command no longer works in Bing. Like the link and linkdomain commands, it has been obliterated from their search system. Another example of Bing dumbing down their search. This does not bode well for Yahoo: as part of the recent Microsoft deal, Microsoft will power Yahoo search and as a result Yahoo will lose many of its current search features. I’m afraid that rather than stealing market share from Google, Bing’s current approach to search will encourage users to stay with the big G.
CILIPS organised an advanced search workshop in Edinburgh, which I led. The participants were from a variety of types of organisation including academic, publishers, public sector, health and commercial. At the end of the workshop they compiled a group Top 10 Search Tips. This is their list:
- Yahoo! Finance – http://finance.yahoo.co.uk/ for the UK version. Yahoo! Finance gives an overview of quoted companies on the major stock exchanges around the world. Information includes current share price information, downloadable historical share price figures, charts, recent news, company profiles and director dealings.
- Make use of the file format search available in Google, Yahoo, Live and Exalead (but not Ask). Use the advanced search screens, the filetype: command in Google, Exalead and Live, or originurlextension: in Yahoo. For example filetype:ppt . Search for ppt or pdf when looking for presentations; PDF for government, official and industry/market reports; xls for spreadsheets containing statistical data; and rss or xml to locate RSS feeds.
- Looking for papers by an academic? Find out where they currently work, or have worked in the past, and conduct a site search to see if any of their articles are in an institutional repository.
- People are an invaluable source of information and help. Join discussion lists to tap into their knowledge, for example JISCmail at http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/ has a wide selection of lists covering many different topics.
- Use the site or domain search to look for difficult to find information on a particular web site, or to limit your search to types of organisation for example gov.uk for UK government or ac.uk for UK academic pages. Use the advanced search screens of the search engines or the site: command for example site:statistics.gov.uk car ownership.
- Make more use of the advanced search screen options including intitle, inurl and search engine specific features. For example Google’s numeric range search and Exalead’s phonetic and approximate spelling options.
- Combine commands in the main search box for more complex search strategies, for example: carbon emissions trading ~forecasts site:gov.uk 2012..2015 filetype:xls OR filetype:pdf
- Use the link commands to find pages that link to a known page or web site. This usually helps you find pages of similar content and type. Live.com’s link commands have been de-activated but Yahoo’s still work. To find pages that link to a specific page on a site use link: followed by the full URL of the page, for example link:http://www.rba.co.uk/sources/stats.htm . To find pages that link to anywhere on a site use linkdomain: followed by the domain, for example linkdomain:rba.co.uk. Live.com’s linkfromdomain command, which is still working, lists all the external links on a site, for examle linkfromdomain:rba.co.uk
- View the search engines’ cached copies of pages to highlight and locate your search terms in long documents.
- Try the Wayback Machine at http://www.archive.org/ for lost pages, documents or sites.