Here are a few tips that I use for effective Google searches.
1. Searching for glossaries related to specific phrases
I sometimes like to find glossaries on topic I'm translating.
In such cases, it helps to pick out a term or several terms in English and insert a 用語集 in the Google search, like this:
+"steering mechanism" +car +用語集
You make sure that the phrase you want exists in the glossary by using quotation marks around it (as in "steering mechanism"), and add "+" signs before words that should be present in the glossary.
The method above led me to a Japanese/English glossary on cars.
2. Searching for definitions in Japanese
To understand or know more about what a Japanese term or phrase means, enclose the phrase between quotation marks inclusive of とは like this:
The first hit gives a clear idea of what 覚醒度 means:
3. Searching for a phrase at a particular site
Suppose you are translating for a client with a large bilingual website and wish to use terms that the client uses, even if no search engine for that site exists. You take the term and include the URL like so:
+"Customize" +用語 +site:www.microsoft.com
(I wanted to find out what "Customize" would be in Japanese and used this search string).
This search will give you all relevant hits that include "customize" and maybe its equivalent in Japanese.
The first hit in Google did tell me that MS uses カスタマイズ for "customize"
4. Searching for specific file types
Sometimes you might need to understand just the basics of a device or a system without too much into its details. I have found that if you search for Powerpoint files using Google (Powerpoint files are generally used for presentations and generally give the basics), you generally get to the basics quickly. After entering the desired term/terms, add a filetype:ppt
Here is one example on an actual search I did to study steering systems in cars.
+"steering system" filetype:ppt
The third hit gave me many of the terms that are used in a steering system together with illustrations.
5. Searching for glossaries in pdf format
By combining 1. and 4. above, lets see if we can find a glossary in pdf format. Type in the terms and narrow it down if you get too many irrelevant hits:
+"information technology" +用語集 +filetype:pdf
+networking +"LAN/WAN" +用語集 +filetype:pdf
6. Using Google for exchange rates
Here's another neat Google trick. Next time you wish to convert one currency to another, don't go searching for currency converter websites. Say you wish to convert 45.6 US dollars to Japanese yen. Just type it in the Google search window:
convert 45.6 US dollars to Japanese yen
Here's what you get immediately.
45.60 U.S. dollars = 4 989.60499 Japanese yen
Read the disclaimer also.
7. Using Google as a calculator
Just type the numbers.
3526 x 452 will give you 1593752
8. Definitions in English
To find out how a word is defined, just use: define word
9. Finding out the time at various locations in the world
To find out the local time in a city just use: time in city
time in New Delhi
That should give you the day, date and the local time in New Delhi.
10. Conversion of units
Google also has a conversion feature.
To convert say Fahrenheit to Celsius, type:
60 degrees Fahrenheit in Celsius
Or to convert miles per hour to km per hour, type:
40 miles per hour in km per hour
Or to convert cubic meters to liters, type:
5.643 cubic meters in liters
If you do have your own favorite tips other than these, post them in Comments. Thanks.