Like many folks, I rely heavily on Google Search; I probably use it dozens of times per day. Of course, wonderful as it is, it doesn't always give me exactly the results I'm looking for.
For example, suppose I want to look up reviews of 24-inch LCD monitors, but only those models that have been released in the last six months. I can search Google, of course, but by default it will mix in everything that matches my search parameters -- old and new reviews alike.
The trick is to tweak Google so that it searches only a specific date range. You can do that, though it's not immediately obvious how. Here's the step-by-step:
1. Type your search words or phrase into any Google-search field or toolbar. (You don't have to start at Google.com proper.)
2. When the results appear, look in the lefthand column and click Show search tools.
3. That should expand a group of time-related options. You'll see "Any time" highlighted by default, followed by choices like "Past hour," "Past 24 hours," "Past 2 days," and so on.
4. At the bottom of that group, click Custom range.
5. You'll immediately see a calendar selector. Choose your desired "From" date, meaning the date that's as far back as you want Google to search.
6. If you leave the "To" field blank, Google will automatically default to today's date. But if you want an earlier date, click that field and select it.
7. Click Search to see your results for your specified date range.
I can't begin to tell you how valuable this option is, though I often find exactly what I need just with the one-click options ("Past day," "Past month," and so on). If you're looking to narrow (and therefore improve) your search results, try doing it by date.
Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at firstname.lastname@example.org, or try the treasure trove of helpful folks in the PC World Community Forums. Sign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.