10 nifty things you didn't know Bing could do
16th Jul 2009 | 12:45
The handy hidden features you might have missed
1-5: Aesthetics and getting hidden answers
Bing, Microsoft's new search engine, has had several weeks to prove its worth. It's proved popular, picking up market share from both Yahoo and Google to become the second most used search service on the web.
But there's more to Bing than first meets the eye. Like Google, it has hidden depths and additional features. Here are ten useful bits of Bing you may have missed.
1. Get more from the US
Most of Bing's mash-up functionality is embedded in the US version of the site. You don't need an anonymised proxy - like hidemyass.com - to fool the site though. All you need to do is click the country link at the top right of the main page. In the UK it will say "United Kingdom" by default. Choose "United States" instead. Done.
2. Search for wallpaper
Using Bing Image search to find desktop wallpaper? Do your search by keyword, then click "Size > Wallpaper" in the sidebar. Not only is the search narrowed to desktop wallpapers - it's narrowed down to your computer monitor's current screen resolution. If it's set to 1280 x 1024, for example, it only returns images with those dimensions.
GET WALLPAPER: Search for wallpaper on Bing and it returns the right size for your monitor, automagically
3. Remove the background
Bing's main search page has a background image embedded by default. Want a cleaner page? Step one: enter www.bing.com/?rb=0 in the address bar and hit return. Bing's front page now appears without any background clutter. Step two: drag the Bing favicon in the address box to your favourites or bookmarks bar. Next time you want to Bing something, click that link.
CLEAN BING:Bing with a clean clock: no hot air balloons, no white water rafting, not distractions
4. Boolean searches
Bing's all about simplicity, but it still does Boolean searches. With multiple keywords "AND" is inferred, but you can exclude terms from searches with - or NOT. For example "auction sites NOT ebay" will exclude eBay from your results. Like Google, using the + operator requires that the specified keyword appears in the page. You can also use "OR", for example "HD DVD OR Blu-Ray" will return results containing either search term.
5. Find instant answers
Like Google, Bing has built in smart algorithms for location data, word definitions, weight and currency conversion and even complex arithmetical calculations. Try "define computer" for a dictionary definition or "$20 into pounds" to sample Bing's conversion capabilities. Want to know the weather in your local area? Try the term "weather" followed by your nearest town or city. You can even search the status of specific flights. Just type "Flight status of <airline>". You'll be prompted to enter a flight number.
Bing goes even further - pulling data from partner sites in response to requests for statistical data. The query "What is the UK population" returns results from online census data, for example.
FACTS AND NUMBERS:Most of the same calculation and conversion functionality in Google can also be found in Bing
6-10: Saved results and search as RSS
6. Find your site
Is your site listed in Bing? Type in url:yourdomain.com to find out. Once you've established that Bing has you listed, type site:yourdomain.com to see how many of your pages Bing has listed. If nothing turns up, you can submit your site for indexing.
7. Save results for later
"Save and Share" is an experimental feature powered by Silverlight. Click "See All" in the Search History section of the sidebar - then "Save and Share". Select the search query you want to save in the list then click "save to". Choose "Saved searches" or create a new folder. Searches can also be emailed or published to you Facebook wall. If you decide you no longer want to use the service, click "return to your history".
SAVE SEARCHES:Save and Share can be used to save search results to your Skydrive if you have an account
8. Convert Search to RSS
An RSS feed of a search result is a handy thing to have - whether you're keeping tabs on a developing news event or want to track the performance of your web site. Like Windows Live Search before it, Bing results pages can be saved as RSS feeds.
On your results page, click the RSS symbol in IE then click "Subscribe to this feed". In Firefox, you can choose to add the feed to Google Reader instead. To add to other feed readers, select and copy the URL in the address bar, paste it into your RSS reader and add "&format=rss" to the end of the address before saving.
9. Add Bing to your Browser
Do you use Chrome but want to search Bing from the address bar? Right click on the address bar then choose "Edit search engines" from the context sensitive menu. Click "Add" and, giving the name "Bing" - enter the URL www.bing.com/search?q=%s
To add Bing to Firefox's quicksearch bar, you'll need an add-on. Install the official Microsoft Bing extension.
10. Quick Add in Hotmail
Hotmail recently added Bing integration. Log in to Hotmail and create a new message. In the Quick Add sidebar click images or video. Use the search box to find suitable content, then click "Insert". The new content is formatted and added to the body of your message.
QUICK ADD:It's easy to pass around viral videos and pictures with Bing integration and Quick Add in Windows Live Hotmail.
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