By Mary Bates
You may already be familiar with Yahoo’s “shortcuts” — searches that get you answers as well as web sites.
For example, If you type area code San Francisco the first entry in the search results page will be text, rather than a URL: “The area code for San Francisco, CA is 415, 650 This city also exists in the US states of: CO – NM.”
Yahoo assumed that I wanted the area code(s) of San Francisco, California, provided me with the two area codes used there, and reminded me that I could also get the area code of San Francisco, CO (719) or San Francisco, NM (505). Some Yahoo shortcuts include:
* calculations: 17734+1992
* weather: weather in Albuquerque
* time zones: time in Sydney
* definitions: define affect
* stock quotes: quote crox
* foreign exchange: convert euro australian dollar
For descriptions of all the shortcuts, see Yahoo’s Help page at http://help.yahoo.com/help/us/ysearch/tips/tips-01.html
But wait, there’s more!
Yahoo has moved beyond its generic shortcuts; you can now build your own shortcuts.
You need to be logged in; your personal shortcuts are stored on Yahoo’s servers, which means that you can use them from any computer. Yahoo calls these “open shortcuts” because there are some shortcuts available to everyone. But you can also create your own shortcuts — essentially a macro that executes a command. For example, instead of typing “weather in Albuquerque,” — you can create a shortcut so that you simply type !w at the Yahoo search box, and you will get the search results as if you had typed in weather in Albuquerque.
Setting up a personal shortcut is incredibly simple; the instructions are at search.yahoo.com/osc/help
What other shortcuts could you set up?
These are ones I have on my own account right now:
!aiip – takes me to the online directory of the Association of Independent Information Professionals
!wiki [search word] – looks up the Wikipedia entry on whatever word or phrase I specify !ron – re-executes a complex search I run every week for my client, Ron.
!w – retrieves the extended weather report for Niwot, Colorado !fx [amount of US dollars I want converted into euros] – For example, !fx 60 returns me the current value of $60 in euros
If you have any trouble setting up your own shortcuts, shoot me an email. Believe me, you’ll get hooked on these little tools.
Want to read even more stuff from Mary Bates? She’s started a personal blog, Librarian of Fortune.
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Bates Information Services, Inc. is a nationally known firm, with a solid reputation for effective, no-nonsense research and consulting, as well as research training for research professionals, knowledge workers, and research departments. Mary Ellen Bates also offers business coaching for individuals who want to enter the field of information brokering and research services.