It is easy to get more results than you need or want when conducting an online search, but what do you do (or use) if you really want to limit the parameters of the search? Today’s SuperUser Q&A post has the answers to a confused reader’s request for help.

Today’s Question & Answer session comes to us courtesy of SuperUser—a subdivision of Stack Exchange, a community-driven grouping of Q&A web sites.

The Question

SuperUser reader Ayusman needs help in conducting a Google search with a specific set of criteria:

Is it possible to conduct a Google search with the following criteria:

  • Criteria 1: Look through all sites that are ftp://
  • Criteria 2: The file type should be PDF
  • Criteria 3: The file should have analysis in the name, such as Digital Analysis Process.pdf

I have even tried using Google’s Advanced Search page. Please note that I was able to understand how to provide a specific name and file type, but not the protocol to search for ‘ftp:// specific’ sites.

What protocol would Ayusman need to use to add ftp:// to his search criteria?

The Answer

SuperUser contributors jjk_charles and Nir have the answer for us. First up, jjk_charles:

You can use the term below to search for analysis and PDF in ftp servers only:

  • analysis + “.pdf” inurl:ftp -inurl:(http|https)

Simply use this search term in Google’s search box rather than using the Advanced Search page.

Note: The key here is the use of inurl:ftp -inurl:(http|https), which will ignore any results from http/https websites. Change the remainder of the search string as you normally would to suit your needs.

Followed by the answer from Nir:

To search for an ftp website, you use inurl:ftp -inurl:(http|https). It means you search for a website with ftp in its URL and the minus (-) removes the results with http/https in the URL so that you receive just the ftp results.

To search for a specific file type, you use filetype:pdf. To limit the search to a specific word in the title, you use intitle:analysis or intext:analysis.

Basically, your query needs to look like this:

  • inurl:ftp -inurl:(http|https) filetype:pdf intitle:analysis

Hope this helps. You can learn more about searching with Google at the following website:

Inside Search – Search Education Online


If you have not tried it, but really want to increase your Google-fu, the online course linked above is a wonderful resource to power up your Google searches!

Have something to add to the explanation? Sound off in the comments. Want to read more answers from other tech-savvy Stack Exchange users? Check out the full discussion thread here.

Akemi Iwaya
Akemi Iwaya has been part of the How-To Geek/LifeSavvy Media team since 2009. She has previously written under the pen name "Asian Angel" and was a Lifehacker intern before joining How-To Geek/LifeSavvy Media. She has been quoted as an authoritative source by ZDNet Worldwide.
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