Google isn’t everything. Yes, it’s the most powerful search engine ever created. Yes, it processes 40,000 searches per second. And yes, Google is the go-to search engine for the majority of us.
There are many Google resources that most people don’t know about, including Google’s advanced search features that let you narrow searches by time, file type and website type.
Still, Google doesn’t know everything, and there are some resources that are actually better than Google at finding certain information. Some sites index streaming movies, others archive GIFs. Other search engines may not have the omniscience of Google, but they are far more committed to your privacy.
Speaking of privacy, you can use Google Take Out to find out how much Google knows about you, and how much of your personal information is being tracked.
For those special searches, here are seven search sites you can use other than Google. These services cover a range of themes and needs, but you’re almost guaranteed to find one useful – and you might find yourself consulting it over and over. The best part: They’re basically all free.
1. Find streaming movies
The internet is overflowing with streaming services, and yet the question always comes up: what should we watch tonight? Sometimes we browse through the options, seeking a few favorite classics, or this year’s Oscar nominees, but we have to bounce from platform to platform just to find the title we’re looking for.
There's a search engine that will do the work for you. It's called JustWatch. This free website combs through streaming sites, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, HBO, YouTube, iTunes, Roku and Vudu, and it will show where a particular movie is available to stream (free or otherwise).
You can fine-tune and filter the results any way you like -- by year, rating, price, genre, quality and age rating. This is extra useful if you're wondering if a movie or TV show is something you can get for free on other streaming sites. JustWatch's timeline shows you what's new on any particular service at any given time. JustWatch isn't limited to home streaming services. It can help you find all the latest theater movies, and give you summaries, show trailers and buy tickets.
A similar service is GoWatchIt, which boasts 2.5 million movies and 50,000 regular users. The page is attractive and easy to use, and like its rival, GoWatchIt uses your location to determine which content is available in your region.
2. Find GIFs for email and social media
The right GIF is worth a thousand words. Unlike a photo, a GIF is like a tiny video – an animation, a clip from a movie, or a piece of news footage. GIFs often express an emotion or sentiment that no single photo or verbal comment can. Most of the time, GIFs are spit-take funny.
Social media service like Facebook and Twitter make GIFs easy to track down, but for the full catalog, Giphy is the place to go. The site is packed with easy-to-find GIFs: just enter your keyword in the search bar and zillions of GIFs pop up. Like any online search, broad topics are more fruitful than obscure ones; you’ll find plenty of GIFs for “balloon,” but few for “supernumerary.”
To share, click on the GIF that you want, find the "Copy link" button on the right pane, and choose the format. A short GIF link works best, because you can copy and paste the link to pretty much anywhere. Even better, via Giphy's iOS or Android app, you can instantly share any GIF via text messaging, Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter.
3. Search space images
No matter how old we get, the sky will always enthrall us, especially at night. This fascination led the U.S. government to create NASA in the 1950s, and to this day, the agency continues to shed light on outer space. But short of actually leaving the Earth’s atmosphere, the best way to explore the cosmos is through online videos.
The NASA Image Library has pictures across 60 collections combined into one searchable database. This is convenient because you don't have to hop from page to page just to zero in on what you're looking for.
Whether you search for pictures of our solar system, far-off galaxies or the moon landings, you can browse through NASA images – and you can download the images for free, share them on social media sites or publish them for your purposes, as all this digital content is in the public domain.
4. Free software for coders and developers
Most people will not appreciate the glory of Libraries.io, but coders and software developers definitely will: The website lists thousands of pieces of open-source software. These packages and tools are free to the public, and you can use for them for any programming project. The site has a wide selection of package managers including WordPress, PyPi, Rubygems, Atom and Platform IO.
A Libraries.io account also alerts you to software updates and sends notifications about incompatibility and dependency issues.
5. Make money using a search site
Microsoft developed its own search engine, Bing, as a direct competitor to Google. Nobody is going to pretend that Bing has the popularity or reach of Google, but the free service is still very powerful, and there is even an incentive to use it: Microsoft will pay and reward you for your web searches. Go to bing.com/rewards to sign up.
How does it work? The system is called Microsoft Rewards, which pays users in the form of Amazon, Starbucks, Burger King, Xbox, Microsoft Store or other types of gift cards, as well as sweepstakes entries. Related: Looking for ways to make money online? Listen to this Komando on Demand Podcast for legitimate opportunities.
After signing up for a Microsoft account, sign into Bing using the account and begin searching to earn reward points. The system then tracks your points in the upper-right part of the screen, so you can keep track of your earnings while you do what you normally do anyway: search with Bing.
6. Private search engine
At first glance, StartPage.com looks a lot like Google. It has the same search field, and the same bolded and underlined websites pop up, arranged by relevance and popularity. You may not notice a difference, except for the color scheme and the absence of Google Doodles.
But StartPage is designed to retain your privacy. The engine doesn’t collect data, doesn’t keep tabs on your movements, and it isn’t owned by a gigantic corporation. The site is designed to retain privacy, yet it retains much of the power and ease of use that Google does.
If you like StartPage, you can open an account and use its free email service. This is a terrific option for people who use search engines for very basic research and are concerned about exposing their personal information.
7. Search without being tracked by Google
Similar to StartPage, the purpose of DuckDuckGo is to retain privacy. The company proudly abstains from targeted ads – though it does have sponsored ads in the first one or two search results that are relevant to your keywords. DuckDuckGo has a clean interface and deftly aggregates digital news. The “meanings” tab is a nice touch, as it helps analysis the significance of search terms.