The Many Faces of Google

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How Google Works - The Results Page - Spelling Corrections - Definitions - Cached Pages - Similar Pages - News - Product Search - File Type - Translation - Preferences - Advertising - Evaulating Results

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File Type Conversion

NOTE: If you don't understand the concept of File Types, you should read "Explaining File Extensions" by Vic Laurie.

Google converts all file types it searches to either HTML or text (unless, of course, they already are in one of these formats). Google searches a variety of file formats including

File Format Suffix Description
Adobe Acrobat PDF pdf A publishing format commonly used for product manuals and documents of all sorts.
Adobe PostScript ps A printing format often used for academic papers.
Hypertext Markup Language html or htm The primary language for web pages.
Lotus 1-2-3 wk1, wk2, wk3, wk4, wk5, wki, wks, or wku A spreadsheet format.
Lotus WordPro lwp A word processing format.
MacWrite mw A word processing format.
Microsoft Excel xls A spreadsheet format.
Microsoft PowerPoint ppt A format for presentations and slides.
Microsoft Word doc A common word processing format.
Microsoft Works wks, wps, or wdb A word processing format.
Microsoft Write wri A Macintosh word processing format.
Rich Text Format rtf A format used to exchange documents between Microsoft Word and other formats.
Plain Text ans or txt Ordinary text with no special formating.

Clicking on a link to a non-HTML file will launch the associated program for reading the file, provided it's installed on your system.

If you can't view the page in the native format -- for instance, if you don't have Adobe Acrobat on your computer -- or if you want faster access to the file, click on either the "View as HTML" or "View as Text" link. Note: Portions of some files converted to HTML or text may be difficult to read.

Non-HTML files can be viewed in their original forms, or as HTML or text

You can use the Advanced Search form (see the Sharpening Your Query section in Part I) or the filetype: search operator (see the section Using Search Operators also in Part I) to restrict your results to a particular format.

For more information about file types that Google supports, visit

Exercises These problems give you practice viewing files of different types. For hints and answers to selected problems, see the Solutions page in the Appendix.

  1. Find a document about burning CDs that is in PDF/Adobe Acrobat format. What differences in the appearance of the document result from viewing it in its native format, Adobe Acrobat versus HTML?

  2. Find a Power Point slide presentation on first aid and choking. View the presentation as HTML.

  3. Find pdf or Postscript documents and course notes on the Crimean War that are on university and other educational sites.

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