February 2020 - this page is in the process of getting updated. Some sections and tools are yet to be added and other ones are still missing details.
While Google is the most popular search engine, it is not the only one. There is no “best” search engine as it depends on what you are looking for. Every search engine has it’s own database of web pages (called an index), method of ranking pages (algorithm), and various features, and it is worth trying others out.
By default, Google includes results that do not exactly match your search terms. The “Google — verbatim” tool finds more exact matches.
iseek.ai is a small search engine which allows you to narrow down your results by several attributes including topic groupings (similar to Yippy).
You will have a much better time finding what you are looking for if you learn some of the special keywords and symbols that search engines use. The most common is to include "quotation marks" around a phrase, and all major search engines support this. Another common one is to put a minus symbol before a word to exclude it, such as -excluded. Learn more about these (known as search syntax and search operators) for each search engine: Google (not all are listed on their own site, see a more complete list), Bing (and more Bing), Yandex (and more Yandex), Qwant, Exalead, and Gigablast.
These are tools which (mostly) do not have their own database of web pages to search. Instead, they use others’ while providing different features. All those listed here aside from Startpage display results at least in part from Bing.
DuckDuckGo is the most popular of these alternative search engines. Features include instant answers and bangs. See also DuckDuckGo search help. Results are mostly from Bing, but depending on what you search for may come from other sites as well as their own index.
Ecosia is the most popular cause-based search engine. A portion of their revenue is donated to help plant trees. Their results are from Bing.
eTools.ch is arguably the only real meta search engine included here. Meta search engines combine results from multiple other search engines, and were more common before Google dominated the industry.
Startpage’s results come from Google, with the main difference being how they handle your privacy.
Peekier’s results come mainly from Bing. What really makes them different is the large previews of each web page.
Swisscows’s results come from Bing, although they do have their own index if you use their German-language version. While most search engines have an option to filter adult content, Swisscows attempts to always exclude it.
Yippy’s results appear to come mostly from Bing, and their main feature are the topic groupings (similar to iseek.ai) that can help you narrow down the results.
Many search engines now claim to make privacy a central feature. These search engines may also offer less personalization, which is when they use what they know about you to affect the ranking of results. These privacy-focused search engines includes Qwant, Mojeek, DuckDuckGo, eTools.ch, Startpage, Peekier, Swisscows, and Yippy. If privacy concerns you, read the policies of each search engine or read the reviews by Restore Privacy.
In addition to the search engines listed above, another privacy-focused one is Searx. Searx does not have a single website. Instead many people have set up their own copies of Searx, so you can visit the list of Searx instances to find one to use.
Million Short, which shows results from Bing, has a few options to filter the results. They exclude the most popular websites, which helps to surface pages which you may not otherwise come across. Here, it is set to exclude the top 10,000 sites, although you can adjust this from the results page.
Million Short also has an option to exclude e-commerce sites (here labelled “non-commercial”), which does not always work perfectly but may still be useful.
These search engines do not have an English version, but are useful when looking for information in other languages and regions. Some of the search tools listed in other sections are based in non-English-speaking countries, such as Qwant which is French.
In Iran, Parsijoo is the second most popular search engine after Google.
In Vietnam, Cốc Cốc is the second most popular search engine after Google.
In Bangladesh, almost all searches are run on Google, however Pipilika seems worth trying as well.
In Czechia, Seznam is the second most popular search engine after Google.
Details for some of these tools is coming soon.
Wolfram|Alpha is an incredible tool that stands in a category of its own. It does a great job of understanding what you have typed in, and then organizes its own data and calculates a response. To get an idea of what it can do, see the Wolfram|Alpha tour.
Wolfram|Alpha is used by Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistants. Most virtual assistants cannot be accessed online, however you can use Echosim.io to try out Alexa online. You will need to be logged into an Amazon account.
Guinness World Records holds many records, although not all are listed on their website. You will need to create an account in order to view these search results.
Wikipedia hardly needs an explanation. You can read all about it on the Wikipedia article. As with anything that you read anywhere, you should verify the information using multiple sources if using it for anything important. Wikiwand is a copy of Wikipedia, but with a nice design that makes it more enjoyable to use.
Encyclopædia Britannica is the most comprehensive traditional encyclopedia. Not all of the content is free to access, however you may be able to get the non-free parts through your local library.
These are sites where anyone can ask a question, and anyone can answer it. Quality of the answers varies. Your local library most likely also offers a question answering service, and it is probably available online and over the phone.
Quora is the best general-purpose site. Quora and StackExchange allow people to vote on the answers to help ensure that the best ones are listed first. StackExchange is actually a network of many question and answer sites, each for a different subject area, with the most popular being technical subjects.
Brainly is used for homework help.
The remaining sites are below. Answers.com and Blurtit contain a lot of spam, but have good information as well.
These are sites where you can search the full-text content of books, not just the title, author, and other metadata. Many other books, full-text and otherwise, can be found in the libraries and archives sections.
Details about the below sites, and additional sites are coming soon.
Details for these tools is coming soon.
The “Google+FF” tool uses Google to search for files in various formats used for text documents, including Portable Document Format (.pdf), Microsoft Word (.doc and .docx), OpenDocument Text (.odt), Rich Text Format (.rft), PostScript (.ps), TeX (.tex), and Corel WordPerfect (.wpd). You will need to download software to view files in some of these formats.
The “Google+FF” tool uses Google to search for files in presentation formats (PowerPoint, Keynote, and OpenDocument Presentation), and on slide-sharing websites including the ones listed above.
More academic search tools are coming soon.
Libraries and archives contain tons of records that are often not available on Google. Some of the sites here may include items from galleries and museums as well. They include many records which are freely available online, as well as ones which are only available to their members. They may also contain records that are only available in-person.
So many are included here that there are separate sections for libraries and archives in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. See also List of national and state libraries and List of national archives on Wikipedia.
The sites below combine Spain, Portugal, and the countries in the Americas which speak Spanish and Portuguese. Together these are known as Ibero-America.
These tools here are libraries and archives located in Europe. European content can also be found in the international sites, especially Spain and Portugal. Because of the former power and colonialism of some European countries, their archives also include content about many countries outside Europe.
These tools here are libraries and archives located in the Americas, so they predominantly hold content about their own countries. There is also content about the Americas in international and European libraries and archives.
See the Spanish and Portuguese-language sites above which include most countries in the Americas.
Metabase is a library catalogue for countries in Central America (including Mexico) including books, academic papers, articles, and other items. It is not included above as you must fill out a form to request access to any record.
The Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) includes content from a number of Caribbean countries as well as the United States, Mexico, and Brazil.
These tools here are Asian libraries and archives, so they predominantly hold content about their own countries. Most (outside of India) will not be in English. There is also Asian content in the international archives as well as those of other countries such as the UK and Australia.
CrossAsia includes content mostly from China, Japan, and Korea. Their primary search includes just the metadata (such as titles), and much of it is not available online. Their full text search is a separate set of content that does not include Korea, and access is limited to academic institutions in Germany. The site itself is available in English.
The Asean Digital Library searches the metadata of collections from the national libraries of Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The Philippine eLib tool here is filtered to only content with full text available online, although access to some is limited. See their website directly to include results that are not available online.
Details about these tools is coming soon.
SweetSearch uses Google, but limits the results to only about 35,000 sites that have been selected to be useful for educational purposes.
iseek.ai Education combines results from a number of sources including Khan Academy, Project Gutenberg (books), and web pages and certain PDF files.
These options use either Google or Bing, filtered to only show results which have been created or updated within the given time frame. You can specify a more precise date range from the results page. Some other search tools on this page also offer date filters.
Details for these tools is coming soon.
See also news videos on Video search.
The news sources listed here are among the most significant English-language news organizations.
Reuters and The Associated Press (not included above) are two of the three largest news agencies which provide content for other news organizations. The other is Agence France-Presse, however they do not publish news on their own site.
Details about these tools, and additional tools, are coming soon.
News from about the year 2000 and more recent can be found on Newslookup.com and some of the other news search engines. The tools in this section are free collections of mostly digitized newspapers. Digitization means that newspapers on paper or microform (microfilm or microfiche) are scanned or photographed. The images are then converted to text using optical character recognition (OCR), which is what enables searching by keyword. OCR is not perfect, especially for older newspapers. One useful strategy is to take into account common OCR errors when searching.
Every newspaper archive is a collection of various individual newspapers across various years. Any one newspaper may have some years available through several sites, other years available through a different site, and some years not yet digitized.
Many significant newspaper archives are only available from paid and library services. There are also newspapers in many of the libraries and archives, including those that have never been digitized and are only available in-person.
The Internet Archive’s newspapers collection includes a variety of papers from around the world.
Newspapers on Google Books include those from a number of countries countries. You can browse the full list of titles but if you want to search use the first link or this page, as searching does not work properly from the second link.
The Library of Congress tool here includes all Library of Congress newspaper collections aside from Chronicling America. This includes a few from the United States, but also listings of what other non-digitized newspapers are held by the library including ones from around the world.
Despite the name and its focus on New York, Old Fulton New York Post Cards (Fultonhistory.com) includes newspapers from all around the United States, as well as a handful from Canada and a few other countries. This incredible service is the work of a single person. The tool used here is FultonSearch, which offers some advantages over the search engine available on Fultonhistory.com. The results may not be identical, so try their search as well.
Chronicling America, from the Library of Congress is one of the largest newspaper collections and is also included in Elephind. It covers the years 1789 to 1963, but there are limited newspapers after 1923. Most newspapers are in English but there are some in German, Spanish, and other languages.
SmallTownPapers (not included above) does not have a method to search all newspapers at once, you will have to find a specific newspaper to then search within it.
To search on Hemeroteca Digital from the Brazilian national library (not included above), you must select a specific newspaper to search within.
On Hemeroteca Nacional de México, some newspapers are available everywhere, and some require you to be at the library.
Trove, from the National Library of Australia, is also included in Elephind.
There are many more newspapers archived online, that are only available individually or in smaller collections. See List of online newspaper archives on Wikipedia, and Newspaper links from The Ancestor Hunt.
Many large collections of digitized newspapers are only available for a fee (usually a subscription), or through libraries. ProQuest, Gale, and other tools listed under paid and library databases also include news archives. Check your local library to see which services they subscribe to. See also free news archives above for more on how to search.
NewspaperArchive.com includes newspapers from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Germany and other counties.
The “Google+FF” tool uses Google to find pages on both NewspaperArchive.com and Newspapers.com. If you search directly on those sites without a subscription, you can’t view the results, but using Google this way allows you to see them somewhat and to view their text.
Ancestry, MyHeritage, and Findmypast are all genealogy sites which include newspaper archives. If you are searching for people, you should do the searching from their sites that are more suited to that purpose.
Ancestry runs Newspapers.com, which includes newspapers from a handful of countries including the United States and United Kingdom. The newspapers on Ancestry.com are not all the same ones, so that search is also included above. See their site for a list of included countries. On Ancestry, you can see the search results without subscribing, but you will not be able to open them.
The newspapers on MyHeritage (not included above) include many from the United States (including those from Chronicling America), Australia, the Netherlands, and some others.
Findmypast includes newspapers from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and other countries. Their United Kingdom newspapers are the same as those in The British Newspaper Archive, and their other countries are mostly from NewspaperArchive.com.
Gale (owned by Cengage) is only available at libraries and is not included above. It includes newspapers from at least the United States and United Kingdom.
PaperOfRecord.com (which is not included above), includes newspapers from the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Mexico, and a number of other countries. Your library may have access or you can pay to subscribe.
The British Newspaper Archive (not included above) includes the same newspapers as Findmypast does for the United Kingdom. Your library may have access or you can pay to subscribe.
NewsBank includes newspapers from the United States, and is only available through libraries They also run NewsLibrary.com, which is news from 2003 and later, where you can get articles by buying a subscription or paying per article. NewsBank is included within the results from the EBSCO service listed under paid and library databases.
Accessible Archives includes United States newspapers from the 18th and 19th centuries.
In addition to the tools listed here, magazine content can be found on PressReader and other tools listed under news search engines, issuu and other tools listed under publications and documents, the paid and library databases, and libraries and archives.
The “Google+FF” tool uses Google but adds keywords and phrases to help you find databases or other large collections of information.
re3data.org (the name comes from “registry of research data repositories”) lists over 2,000 repositories of academic data from around the world covering a wide range of topics.
Details about these tools is coming soon.
Details about these tools, and addition tools, is coming soon.