Train Your Fingers: How to Get the Most Out of Google Instant

Google Instant

Google Instant promises to save you up to 5 seconds every time you search the Web, but you'll only see those savings if you know how to take advantage of its new real-time mind-reading. Here are the must-know keyboard shortcuts for zipping your way around Google Instant predictions and results.

[Update: Lifehacker put 'em in a convenient video, below!]

Google Instant is rolling out to now, but it's not available in your browser's search box—yet. So, to get started using Instant, you must visit in Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or IE 8. Begin typing your search term into the text box as usual, and then:

Tab to auto-complete: As you type your search term, Google Instant fills in text predictions in grey following what you've entered. Press Tab to accept the next word and add it to your search automatically. For example, when you enter fast c, and Google Instant suggests fast company, press Tab to accept the second word. The Tab key in this example saves you 5 keystrokes. (Hit escape to pull back the drop-down.)

Google Instant

Press the Up/down arrow keys to "auto-scroll." As you type, a dropdown of suggested searches appears below the search box. Press the up and down arrow keys to move between these terms, and watch the results update instantaneously as you select each option.

If you're "feeling lucky," press the right arrow. When up or down-arrowing through the suggested search terms, if the result you want is at the top of the page, press the right arrow key. That will zip you right off to the top result, that is, it triggers the classic "I'm feeling lucky" search. (Hitting enter is still the same as hitting the search button.)

Google Instant is too flashy for you? Just turn it off in your Google preferences.

Gina Trapani co-hosts This Week in Google, a Web show on Google and cloud computing which airs live online every Wednesday at 1pm Pacific/4pm Eastern. She is also the host of Fast Company's Work Smart video series.

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  • Rob Shaver

    Hi Gina,

    This is my first visit to the Fast Company web site and I have to say it's rather annoying. Its quite cluttered and the roll-overs pop up and cover the content much too often. Not the kind if site I want to spend much time on. However I would watch the video you mentioned on TWiG ... if I could but find it. Again, cluttered confusing interface. I'm going to take a look at your blog (I'm subscribed to the RSS) and see if you link to it from there.

    Good luck,

    p.s. Okay ... now I'm really pissed! Not your fault but you should hang out with a better class of web site. I wrote the message above and hit submit. The error said, "Be sure you're logged in". That's really a poor design decision ... not letting me know that I need to create an account before I can submit a comment.

    So I went on to create an account which, as you can see, I succeed in doing. But when I tried to fill in the signup form a pop-over ad covered up some of the fields. I had to wait until it was done and receded, like the tide, so I could finish.

    There are lots of places I can go on the web ... I'm going there now. I just took the trouble to create an account and post this message in an attempt to give the designers of this web site some feedback. They may not know how many readers they are loosing due to these tactics.

    I will not be back to this site ... ever. RS