How to narrow your search results by date range

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Recently I got a message from one of my readers, Mike –

Boo. I asked a question some months back which you mentioned, but did not answer. Perhaps I can ask again? I need to limit my search results by date. For example, I want to search for mythtv. This is sort of useless and I find many old out of date results. Some info is outdated, some is flat wrong, some companies or web sites have closed down. I waste lots of time checking the results. Is there a way to search for mythtv, but use a date limiter of ONLY the last 3 years and not all the old useless junk? I mostly use the search engine duckduckgo but sometimes use Bing, Google, or Yahoo. I am on your mail list and have enjoyed your weekly mail for the past 2 years. Thanks.

search by date

 

I don’t know how Mike’s question slipped through the cracks but I told him we would get it answered, so here it is.

(Side note: I asked Mike about MythTV since I had never heard of it. He said:   It looks a great deal like Windows Media Center and allows you to play all your media files like movies and TV shows. But if you add a TV tuner card, it becomes a PVR (Personal Video Recorder). Using PVR functions, it goes online and gets the TV schedule data, uses mysql, and presents the results for you to search. Once you find what you want to record, it sets the timers, records your shows, and chops out the commercials for you. All this is called the backend. The frontend portion can be used for playback on as many of your network machines as you like. You can also install both front and back ends on the same machine.“)

Sounds like interesting software. If you use it, let me know in the comments below what you think of it. But this isn’t a software review post.

Mike wants to know how to do a search, and limit the search results to a particular period of time. He specifically wants to see only the things that are from within the past 3 years. And he mentioned that the search engines he uses are DuckDuckGo, Bing, Yahoo and Google. Here’s how it works for each one of these.

DuckDuckGo
Summary: can’t do it.
DuckDuckGo.com is the search engine for people concerned about privacy. Their policy is: “We don’t store your personal info, we don’t follow you around with ads, and we don’t track you.”

Unfortunately, they aren’t set up to do what Mike is requesting. If you do a search with DuckDuckGo, you’ll see the search results and right up above that there’s a drop-down menu that says “Any Time”. When you click that, you can choose to narrow your search results to the past day, week or month:

narrow search

 

Bing
Summary: able to do it.
Bing.com is the search engine owned by Microsoft. They do everything they can to promote it and encourage people to use it, but it still only gets used by about 7% of internet searches globally (by comparison, Google gets about 81% of searches). Personally, I don’t like Bing at all.

However, Bing can be configured to narrow search results to specific dates. You do your regular search, then look for the drop-down manu that says “Any time”. At the bottom of that menu is the place where you can enter the dates you want to use for your search results:

Bing narrow searches

 

Yahoo
Summary: can’t do it.
Yahoo.com is one of the oldest search engines. In fact, I remember it being the first one I used when I first got on the internet. But back then it was called a “search directory”. If you use Firefox, the default search engine it uses is Yahoo (I usually change that to Google when I’m setting up a new PC).

Unfortunately, Yahoo is also not able to filter search results by specific dates. It offers basically the same options as DuckDuckGo. When you do your search, click on “Anytime” and you’ll see the options for day, week or month – but nothing more specific than that:

Yahoo narrow search

 

Google
Summary: able to do it.
Google.com – you’ve probably heard of it. It’s the 800 pound gorillas in the search engine industry. And why do so many people use it? Not because they force it on people like Bing tries to. It’s because their search results are the most relevant.

To get search results based on a particular set of dates, first do your regular search. Then click on “Tools”, then click on “Any time”. In that menu there’s an option for “custom range” where you can enter the dates you want to use:

Google narrow search

 

As you have probably guessed, out of these 4, I prefer Google just because the search results usually give me what I’m looking for. Want to try a comparison for yourself? Do a search in Bing, then open a new tab and do the same search in Google.

For example – I searched on “did the red sox win their last game?”.

Bing search results gave me generic information:

Bing search results

 

Google search results specifically answered my question:

Google search results

 

I know that’s not a comprehensive evaluation, and in some cases Bing search results might be better. But overall I think Google does a much better job. What do you think? Comment below.

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