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In Computer Literacy for the Mac, author Garrick Chow walks through the skills necessary to use Mac computers comfortably, while improving learning, productivity, and performance. This course focuses on the Apple Mac OS X operating system and offers a thorough introduction to computers, networks, and computer peripherals such as printers, digital cameras, and more. In addition, basic procedures with software applications, the Internet, and email are covered.
To perform a web search, you first have to visit a search engine through your web browser. As I previously mentioned, most web browsers these days have access to the most popular search engines like Google and Bing, built directly in. For example, here in Safari I could just type my search terms into this search field to perform a Google search, but for this example, I'm actually going to go to google.com. The technical term for performing a search is query. Basically, when you perform a query, you're asking the search engine to provide information relevant to the word or phrases that you searched for.
Most people just call it googling these days, which shows you how popular Google is as a search engine. To perform your search, just type a word or a phrase. Let's say I'm looking for information on repairing a hard drive. I'll type repairing, and you can see that even before I finish typing, Google has offered some suggestions of what it thinks I might be looking for. These are based on the popularity of what other people have searched for. Nothing here really matches my need, so I'll continue typing. And there's repairing hard drive. So without having to type out the rest, I'll just use the arrow keys on my keyboard to select that result, and I'll press my Enter or Return key.
And in a second, I see what Google considers the top results for that search phrase. You can see that it's actually found 993,000 results, but Google, and all search engines, try to give you the most relevant results first. And as you can see, Google not only found web pages, but it also found a couple of videos on repairing hard drives. In fact, I can click more to see just the results from videos, images, blogs, and so on. I'll go back to Everything.
Now one of the keys to a successful search is to try to think of which words might appear on the kind of page you're looking for. For example, if I'm trying to fix or find an explanation for a specific problem I'm having with my hard drive, I'll imagine how I would describe it to a live person and try to distill it down to a short phrase that includes the important and relevant words. So if my hard drive is making clicking noises, I might search for "hard drive clicking," or I might type "hard drive won't mount." What you want to avoid is using words that might make your search either too broad or too narrow.
For example, don't type something like, "documentation of hard drive repair techniques"; instead, boil it down to the words that will most likely appear on the page we're looking for, like "hard drive repair tips." If you see a Google suggestion for your phrase appear, that's a pretty good indication that other people have looked for this exact same search term, and you'll probably find some good results. But in most cases, brevity is going to be the key to finding a good range of search results. Now some people will use quotes around their words when searching for phrases, but you should only use quotes if you want the results for the words within the quote appearing in that specific order.
For example, I'll look for "repairing hard drives" without the quotes, and that gives me 578,000 results. Notice that, in many of these results, the words repairing, hard, and drives don't necessarily appear all together in that single phrase. If I only want search results for web pages in which repairing hard drives are all together in a row, I put quotes around it. Notice that this reduces the number of results to 240,000 and that in all the results the words "repairing hard drives" all appear next to each other.
Using quotes is also a great computer troubleshooting technique. If you ever have a dialog or alert box show up, and you're not quite sure what it means or what it's trying to tell you, try typing the words from that dialog box in quotes into Google. More often than not, you're sure to find pages in which others have come across the same message. So those are some tips for performing basic searches. And of course, once your search results appear, just click any of the results to be taken to that particular web page.
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