When I’m trying to find something on the Internet, my slogan is “Google is my friend.” In the early days, I tried Yahoo! Then, I found out about Dogpile, which gives the top few matches from several search engines. And, then I found Google.
For that matter, if I want to find out about something, I Google for it. Whether the subject is computers or not, you will find several, or several hundred, web sites about it.
Thinking about a new car? Check Google. Thinking about a washer, check Google. Wondering how to solve that rattle sound in the dishwasher, check Google. Not only will you find sites telling you what to do, perhaps even with pictures, you will find sources for manuals and parts, too.
Google gives you some real power by allowing you to specify phrases, instead of just individual words. When I searched for "Maytag dishwasher" without the quotes, there were 367,000 matches. By putting the quotes around the phrase, this dropped to 31,400 matches. Still way too many for anything but checking the top few or fine-tuning the search. So, if you are looking for a specific model, don’t just search for "Maytag dishwasher", search for "Maytag diswasher" and the model number.
That is the real trick — the more exact your input, the better the response from Google. Part numbers, error message numbers and words, the details help — otherwise your answer will be buried in thousands of responses. My dishwasher was making a "clack,clack,…" sound when it ran its dryer cycle. When I searched for "Maytag dishwasher noise" (without the quotes), there were 28,100 matches, but when I searched for the individual words (without the quotes) "Maytag dishwasher noise clack", there were only 171 matches!
Google also has many more search options available from its Advanced Search page at http://www.google.com/advanced_search .
If you get a strange error message from Windows, write it down exactly, and then Google for the exact words and numbers. You will easily find references to it so you can understand what it means and what to do — even if the error message is just a string of error numbers. Be sure to also include the program name — if the error message is from Microsoft Word, be sure to put "Word" in your search string as well as the error message. That way, the answer is more specific to your situation.
Want to know what a program file does? Type the file name into Google and you will most likely find links to the answer. If it is a part of Windows, you will find the answer. If it is a program that starts automatically when Windows starts, you will probably find the answer. If it is a Windows service, you will find the answer, too.