[this page last updated 2011.4.25]


Searching for what you want isn’t always easy, but it doesn’t have to be hard. There are a number of methods, sites and software programs that can make it easier and faster.

For information on searching for books and other library materials, click here.

Windows & Web Page Searching

The easiest way to search for something specific in Windows or on a web page is to use CTRL-F (capital or lower-case “f”) for “Find.” A popup will let you fill in the specific word or phrase you want, and search the file or web page you have open.

Windows has a Search function in the Start menu popup. There are also a number of other ways to search inside files (usually found in the “Edit” menu, if the program has one).

Internet and Web Site Searching

Search engines are used to search the Internet and the World Wide Web. For a list of specialized and general search engines, click here.

For the latest posts on this topic, click here.

Search Engines

Note: this is not intended to be an exhaustive list, merely one that covers a useful variety of engines.


General Search Engines

(Definition: A meta-search engine searches using several other search engines.)

  • Recommended: GoodSearch for shopping — stores found through this donate a percentage to selected good causes
  • 1Blink! meta-search engine
  • 2Q Quick Quest Meta-search engine
  • Academic Info searches more authoritative sources for better research
  • Alexa
  • AltaVista
  • Ask for Kids a child-safer search engine
  • Beaucoup
  • Bing Microsoft’s contender for top search engine
  • Blekko filters more than Google, and lets you remove a lot of spam from your results.
  • Clever tries to find the most popular sites
  • Clusty (formerly Vivisimo) a meta-search engine that uses other engines
  • Cyber411
  • DeepDyve is the “research engine for the Deep Web. Get rich, relevant search results. Professional, high-caliber sources.”
  • Dogpile meta-search Google, MSN, Yahoo and Ask at the same time
  • Ecocho “you search, we grow trees”.
  • EcoSearch is a “nonprofit charity dedicated to preserving our environment”.
  • Ecosia “donate 80 percent of all the proceeds made on searches to the World Wildlife Fund’s rainforest protection projects in Brazil’s Amazonas region.”
  • Excite
  • Fast Web
  • Flycatcher meta-search engine
  • GoodTree – support your favorite charities using this search engine.
  • Google the best known search engine at present
  • GreenMaven focuses on green and sustainable websites
  • Hakia is intended to be aimed at more authoritative, more reliable sites than Google
  • HotBot
  • iBrain is listing selected links on a growing number of topics
  • Infomine search by subject category
  • Infopeople’s Best Search Tools
  • Internet Public Library
  • Internet Sleuth meta-search engine
  • Ixquick More than a dozen Web searching databases are searched by this meta search engine, including: AltaVista, Fast Search, Excite, HotBot, Infoseek, MSN, and Yahoo. Translates your search into each search engine’s syntax. Can perform natural language or complex Boolean searches. Supports phrases, wildcards, parentheses, pluses (+), minuses (-), capitalization, fields, and other modifiers such as NEAR, because Ixquick knows which search engines can cope with which type of search. Brings “top 10” from each search engine, and prioritizes results. Eliminates duplicates.
  • Kosmix “is a seriously useful search engine which searches your query across different sites like Wikipedia, Google Image Search, Flickr, Youtube, CNN and different categories like audio, video, news, blogs, pictures and displays all the results nicely organized in different boxes on a single page.” (reviewer Dumb Little Man)
  • Librarians’ Internet Index for sites recommended by librarians
  • Limmz functions as a search engine start page that provides links to many different search engines and websites.
  • Live Microsoft search engine
  • Look Smart
  • Lycos
  • Mamma: the Mother of all metasearch engines
  • Microsoft Academic Search
  • Northern Light
  • Open Directory Project by librarians
  • ProFusion meta-search engine
  • Proteus library resource guides by librarians
  • Schoolr is a specialized search engine which points you to Wikipedia, Wolfram Alpha, Google, online dictionaries, and other sites.
  • Search Power one of the largest directory of search engines with direct links to over 2400 of the Internets most powerful Major and Specialty search engines.
  • is a tabbed search interface and can display almost every kind of search engine available in different tabs on the same page. Hence this is another tool which could prove useful if you’d like to widen your search beyond Google and take a look at what other search engines have to offer on the same query. (reviewer Dumb Little Man blog)
  • Sperse meta-search engine combines results from Google, Yahoo! and Ask.
  • Sputtr can search a number of engines and sites, and (with free registration) allows you to set up a custom page for searching
  • Starting Point a good multi-purpose site
  • Surfy meta-search engine
  • Truevert Vertical Semantic Search for ecologically “green” results
  • Ultimates claims to be the ultimate search engines for various things
  • WebCrawlerSearching
  • Web Taxi meta-search engine
  • Wikiwix for seaching Wikipedia, Wikisource, and related sites.
  • Yahoo

Advice and How-To

  • explains all kinds of things.
  • Ask ask any question & get a self-styled “expert” to answer – which could be worth just what you pay. Use at your own risk.
  • online resource for how to do all sorts of stuff (some free, some pay)
  • LibrarySpot simulates the many resources of a library
  • LookSmart has information on many subjects

Art, Graphics & Photos

  • AltaVista Photo Finder This is currently the most comprehensive database of images on the ‘net, with the best searching capability. AltaVista has combined the Corbis photo database with indexed images from the Web to provide millions of images. Although it calls itself a “Photo Finder,” there are images of all types. The default setting is to filter, one click turns it off. A search returns up to 12 thumbnails at a time.
  • Arriba Vista annotated graphics catalog from the Mining Company
  • Image Providers Directory
  • ImageSurferCategory List
  • Microsoft Clip Art Gallery
  • Oh No Robot is a search engine for comics and cartoons on the web
  • PicFindr is a stock photography search engine that lets you simultaneously search on several free stock photography websites such as Freerance, DreamsTime, Stock.xchng, GimpSavvy, FreeDigitalPhotos, Flickr… etc. The search results can be filtered by permitted use and attribution requirements. (review by MakeUseOf)
  • Pixolu lets you find more relevant images using the image results it displays the first time you search. It uses Google, Flickr and Yahoo as the underlying image search engines. (this is new beta version, and may be very slow)
  • Proteus Image Search meta-search AltaVista, Lycos, Yahoo, WebSEEk, Arthur, others, but only one at a time
  • TinEye is a reverse image search engine — submit an example, and find “exact matches including those that have been cropped, edited or resized.”
  • Veezzle searches multiple free photo stock resources.
  • WebSeek A Content-Based Image and Video Search and Catalog Tool for the Web

Books, Videos, Web Sites, more

  • WorldCat searches the Boreham Library and beyond for books, ebooks, videos, sound recordings, and more.
  • searches for apps for iPhone/iPad and Android devices
  • ebooksearchr is a Google-based direct search for online ebooks.
  • searches documents in PDF, RTF, DOC, XLS, SWF and PPT files online.
  • The Guide DB finds PDF-format guides. books and manuals.
  • Just Free Books gives results from multiple search engines for online ebooks and audiobooks.
  • Manuals Search Engine searches for PDF manuals for equipment
  • has free ebooks available.
  • Nearby Libraries this Library’s own page of links to libraries within 50 miles of Fort Smith.
  • Neotake searches for ebooks.
  • Google Book Search covers the books offered by Google’s indexing service, may show a little text or an online source if available, places to buy, and of course a link to search libraries for it.

Business & Finance

Buying & Consumer Information

Converters & Measurements

Dictionaries & Encyclopedias

  • Acronym Finder
  • Britannica Ency.Britannica online with additional content, EBSCO databases links, more
  • Concise Columbia Encyclopedia
  • Factbites “offers you real, meaningful sentences from the websites that are right on topic.”
  • Free Internet Encyclopedia This is an encyclopedia composed of information available on the Internet. There are two main divisions. The MacroReference contains references to large areas of knowledge, FAQs where available, and pointers to relevant areas of the MicroReference. The MicroReference contains short
    bits of information and references to specific subjects, sometimes with instructions on finding the specific subject inside a general reference. Each specific subject will reference its general subject in the MacroReference if one is present. ; To expand by saying the same thing slightly differently, the MicroReference is an alphabetically arranged set of links to information while the MacroReference is a thematic arrangement with an index.
  • InfoPlease Almanac
  • On-Line Dictionaries The ultimate Internet directory of dictionaries, more than 800 dictionaries of over 150 different languages. Graphically pleasing, easily navigable, with the following sections: Languages (dozens), Multilingual, Specialized, Thesauri and other Vocabulary Aids; and an index of other Dictionary indexes. Maintained by a Russian/Linguistics professor.
  • OneLook Dictionaries searches multiple dictionaries in one pass. The ultimate Internet dictionary lookup site. Search more than 500 general and specialized English dictionaries simultaneously, or select the ones you want to search. More than 2 million words now indexed.
  • Hyper-linked definitions of more than 1,000 Internet and computer related terms. All can be browsed or searched. Includes special sections on How the Internet Works; Writing HTML; Software; and Hardware.
  • Wikipedia the controversial experiment in letting everyone contribute to it, with varying degrees of quality and bias, still has some useful information not often found in conventional publications
  • Wikiwix for searching Wikipedia and related sites
  • Wordsmyth English Dictionary Thesaurus (WEDT) This is an original
    standard dictionary-thesaurus of American English with definitions and pronunciations, an integrated thesaurus, and useage examples. A nice feature is the Approximate Search, which will find words that are close in spelling to your word. “It was developed from modern/contemporary sources, on the basis of our own editorial manual. The database has approximately 50,000 headwords, and nearly 13,000 of these have thesaurus (SYN/SIM) entries.”
  • World Wide Words There are two main sections at this fascinating site: Articles about the English language, ranging from the vocabulary of lotteries and words for irrational feelings to the slang terms for money and an excellent discussion on what big numbers mean in different countries, and The Word Hoard, words and phrases which have not yet reached most dictionaries. Check out andropause, ebonics, and presenteeism. The author (who is British and contributes to the OED) tries for American, as well as British explanations.
  • WWWebster Dictionary Based on the Merriam-Webster 10th Collegiate edition, 1993. More than 160,000 entries. Each word is accompanied by definition, pronunciation, usage, grammatical function, and a brief
    etymology. A thesaurus can be queried for similar words, hypertext cross references are available,and return suggested spellings. Search system supports internal wildcards and right hand truncation searching. Includes an extensive pronunciation guide.

Directories & Biography

  • AnyWho This sleek little site powered by AT&T Labs searches for home and biz phones, 1-800 numbers, email addresses, Web sites and has a reverse telephone search.
  • A&E Network has crippled limited interface to good bios
  • Congressional Staff Directory
  • Congressional email directory from Webslingerz
  • Literary Market Place Online
  • People Search Search a raft of search engines at once, either by the person’s name or by address, phone number or email address — and all for free. There’s also an international search option.
  • Pipl is the best people search engine on the web. If you are searching for someone on the internet then this is the site that could help you the most. It searches deep into the web to unearth every relevant information which mentions the name of that person. Once you try it, I’m sure you’d agree that it is really impressive. (reviewer Dumb Little Man blog)
  • PubList periodical directory
  • SwitchBoard Search for people, businesses, Web sites, maps and more. With the What’s Nearby feature, you plug in address and WhoWhere returns all the restaurants, stores, parks, etcetera in the area. Also reverse searches from phone number or location.
  • Telephone Directories on the Web
  • WhoIsHim lets you search for a name in a variety of sites, one at a time.
  • Who’s Alive and Who’s Dead A “site that helps you keep track of which famous people have died and which are still alive!” If they’re one of the more than 1,700 people listed, you can find out if they are still with us and, if not, when and why they went. Grouped according to the accomplishments for which they are best known, alphabetically, and searchable. Information includes full name, what the person is known for, and reason for death, if known. Maintained by a person with a day job as Director of Technology at an architectural firm.
  • WhoWhere A good little phone, email and site finder. Plus it also has a few cool specialty searches, including a genealogy search, public records search and celebrity search.
  • Yahoo People Search One of the best email searches available. It’s advanced option lets you make searches based on domain name, organization tag or even old email addresses.
  • ZabaSearch has Telephone Numbers and Addresses Revealed Free. No Registration Required. Instant Results. Three Times More Residential Listings than White Pages Phone Directory.  Also can alert you when others search for you on ZabaSearch or leave messages.


  • AskERIC education info for teachers, librarians, students, educators, more
  • Einzstein for free online courses from reputable sources

Government, Law & Politics

  • American FactFinder get census info; can customize using JavaScript software
  • small business grants & loans, business laws, how to start a business, buying surplus property for business
  • Fedworld (US Dept.Commerce) government databases, info, sites
  • This site is “the World Wide Web information portal for the United States Federal Government.” It serves as the “first resource to find any government information on the Internet, with topics ranging from business and economy to money and benefits to science and technology.” Users can search for information using the search engine or browse by the branch of the government; by Interesting Topics; or by Featured Subjects which highlight interesting and timely information. There are links to state and local government information. There are also links to providing online or offline feedback to the government by topics or by agencies.
  • Government Information Locator Service
  • U.S. Gazetteer search by counties, place names, MCDs (Minor Civil Divisions), zip codes to find over 100 demographic measures for an area

Maps, Geography & Travel

Music & Video

This includes podcasts (video blogs, etc.).

  • abMP3 lets you browse, search and download MP3s from thousands of sites
  • All-Music Guide a source of music information from band biographies to album reviews to track listings. Searchable by artist, album, song, style of music, and label. Also has a music dictionary.
  • Archive of Misheard Lyrics at KissThisGuy has misheard lyrics to pop songs
  • AudioRaider is a “Google-powered MP3 search engine that lets you find and download MP3s. All AudioRaider search results are pulled out directly from Google Index. Once you find what you’re looking for you can save it to your system using “right click” and “save target as” option.”
  • Clicker is the TV Guide to the Internet, including links to online video programs, with some that are only available on the web.
  • Digital Tradition lyrics & a few sound files to mostly folk songs, etc. download latest database
  • Documentary Heaven is “food for your brain” — documentary videos.
  • Gracenote search by artist, album and song for listings
  • Internet Movie DataBase
  • Irish Folk Song Lyrics archive
  • iTunes – Podcast Directory podcast catalog
  • LyricFerret is a search engine to find the lyrics to that song that you can’t quite remember.
  • LyricsFly “is user-contributed music service for searching lyrics. Find lyrics for your favorite songs by artist, song and album name, or search using phrases from the lyrics. In addition to lyrics text, LyricsFly also returns related YouTube videos, links to stream songs online (from Seeqpod), MP3 download links and CD covers. The lyrics text can be printed out, sent to an email or even edited (in case you spot the typo).”
  • Lyrics HQ all kinds of songs
  • Lyrics Ring ring of web sites with lyrics
  • Movie Web
  • locate MP3 music on the web
  • MP3Realm – find mp3s, stream them online and download ones you like to your computer. You can search for MP3’s by artist name, song or album title or browse them by genre and artist.
  • MP3searchmusic to find MP3s
  • MusicSearch:TheInternet’s Music-Only Search Site
  • Odeo podcast search engine
  • Pluggd searches podcasts, including inside the podcasts for parts of conversations
  • SeeqPod is a playable search engine for music, especially music videos. Many of these come from YouTube, but it goes further in searching for music and videos.
  • SkreemeR is a search engine for DRM-free MP3 files of music, podcasts, speeches and much more
  • SongFile music/lyrics/purchase info for songs, etc. – over 2 million titles
  • Songr is freeware which will search multiple mp3 search engines for music that the user is looking for. Among the mp3 search engines that are supported are, Skreemr or Mp3realm. It will also search Youtube indirectly.
  • University of California @ Berkeley Online Audio Recordings Not just sound bites! The University of California at Berkeley has made available dozens of hours of sound file records at various lectures and events at UCB. With either RealAudio or StreamWorks, you can listen to speeches and lectures by Malcolm X, James Baldwin, Noam Chomsky, Umberto Eco, Michel Foucault, Carlos Fuentes, Aldous Huxley, Alfred L. Kroeber, Claude Lvi-Strauss, Margaret Mead, and Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer; and poetry readings from Robert Creeley, Robert Frost, Czeslaw Milosz, Robert Hass, Robert Pinsky, Gary Snyder, and Ted Joans.
  • VideoSurf brings you results based on visually recognized faces within the video. Another cool feature is the ability to jump to specific part in the video.
  • WatchKnow is a search engine for online educational videos.
  • WebSeek A Content-Based Image and Video Search and Catalog Tool for the Web
  • WonderHowTo searches for how-to videos, aggregates videos from more than 500 specialized websites and categorizes them into categories.Search videos, browse by category, comment on, rate, submit etc.
  • Woonz is an anonymous music search engine that lets you find and stream (or download) MP3s online. It’s similar to Franceradio, Skreemr, AudioRaider and AirMP3, however Woonz claims not to log any IPs and keep all user activity anonymous.
  • Yahoo! Podcasts is a catalog of podcasts

Phone Searching

  • Boopsie lets you select from over 100 channels in total. Search match scores, lookup stock prices, local weather reports, find phone numbers, search Wikipedia, find nearest Starbucks or FedEx store, movie reviews (via, area code lookup, search Amazon books, read global news and lots more. If you can browse web on your phone, you can most likely use Boopsie. Works with pretty much all popular phones (BREW, Blackberry, Java (J2ME), Palm OS, Symbian, Windows Mobile and iPhone).
  • Fone Finder has a variety of searches, U.S. and international, reverse directory.


Other Resources

  • Download Any Stuff uses Google in the background to pull out free mp3 songs, ebooks, software, torrents, games..almost anything which can be downloaded for free and is listed in Google. You can also narrow down your search results by clicking on different categories it lists on the search page. (reviewer Dumb Little Man blog)
  • Everyrule Find rules from etiquette to sports to game shows. Includes various categories of games: computer, casino, kids, board, cards. Each group is searchable, or browse them in alphabetical order. Some links take you to the manufacturer’s site and require Adobe Acrobat Reader to view, but they also provide information about the game such as product recalls, replacement parts, and history of the company. Sports links often take you to the rules portion of the official site, such as the NFL’s Digest of Rules. A weekly newsletter, Rules Making News, notes, controversial new policies and rule modifications primarily in sports.
  • finds free tutorials on all sorts of subjects, in PDF format.
  • Freshbargains, as the name suggests, lets you hunt for bargains on the web. It aggregates deals from around 15 sites which are known for the great deals they offer. It can also alert you through email when a new deal is available for your desired product.  (reviewer Dumb Little Man blog)
  • General-Search will search for files in the major file sharing sites Uploading, Rapidshare and Megaupload.
  • Repositories of Primary Sources This site contains links to “over 3,400 Web sites describing holdings of manuscripts, archives, rare books, historical photographs, and other primary sources for the research scholar.” Access is by region or by an alphabetical index of state, province, or country. “The list focuses on actual repositories; therefore virtual collections are excluded.” There is also a list of other’s lists of archives and repositories.
  • TorrentSurf is a search engine for “14 popular torrent sites simultaneously”.
  • Wolfram|Alpha is an “ambitious, long-term project to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable by anyone. Enter your question or calculation, and Wolfram|Alpha uses its built-in algorithms
    and a growing collection of data to compute the answer.”

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