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To perform a basic 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 the 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 a query. Basically, when you perform a query, you're asking the search engine to provide information relevant to the word or phrases you searched for.
Most people just call it Googling these days though, 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. Start by clicking in the Search field and typing the word repairing, and you can see that even before I finish typing, Google is constantly offering 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 what I need so I'll continue typing, and right there is repairing hard drive.
So without having to type out the rest, I can either click it or use the arrow keys on my keyboard to select it and I can press Return or Enter on my keyboard to do my search. And in less than a second, I see what Google considers the top results for that search term. You can see that it's actually found 864,000 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, in Google you can click more in the left-hand column and sort the results from Videos, Images, Blogs and so on.
I'll go back and click Everything again. Now one of the keys to a successful search is to try and think of what words might appear on the kind of page you're looking for. For example, if I'm trying to find a fix or explanation for a specific problem I'm having with a 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 type hard drive clicking. And search for that. 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 you are looking for, like hard drive repair tips. 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 those quotes appearing in that specific order. For example, I'll type repairing hard drive without quotes around the words, and notice that in many of the results, the words hard drive and repairing are not all together as a single contiguous phrase.
Now 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. And you can see that in all the results repairing hard drives appears as a phrase. Notice that also reduces the number of results to 345,000. Previously for just repairing hard drive had 864,000 results. Using quotes is also a great computer troubleshooting technique. If you ever have a dialog box show up and you're not quite sure what it means, try typing the words from the dialog box in quotes into Google.
More often than not, you're sure to find pages in which others have come across that same message and you will probably find an explanation. So those are some tips to performing basic searches, and of course once your search results appear, just click on any of the results to be taken to that particular web page.
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