AltaVista Search Help: Simple Form AltaVista Search Network

Natural Language queries: (always try this first)

    Type a word or phrase or a question (for example, weather Boston or what is the weather in Boston?), then click Search (or press the Enter key). If the information you want from this sort of query isn't on the first couple of pages, try adding a few more specific words.
Requiring/Excluding Words:
    Often you will know a word that will be guaranteed to appear in a document for which you are searching. If this is the case, require that the word appear in all of the results by attaching a "+" to the beginning of the word (for example, to find an article on pet care, you might try the query dog cat pet +care). You may also find that when you search on a vague topic, you get a very broad set of results. You can quickly reject results by adding a term that appears often in unwanted articles with a "-" before it (for example, to find a recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies without nuts try oatmeal raisin cookie -nut* -walnut*).
Exact Phrases:
    If you know that a certain phrase will appear on the page you are looking for, put the phrase in quotes. (for example, try entering song lyrics such as "you ain't nothing but a hound dog")
Search Syntax: (special functions)
    AltaVista doesn't just search text. Here are all of the other ways you can search on the net:

    Special Functions for Web Searches
    Keyword Function
    anchor:text Finds pages that contain the specified word or phrase in the text of a hyperlink. anchor:"Click here to visit AltaVista" would find pages with "Click here to visit AltaVista" as a link.
    applet:class Finds pages that contain a specified Java applet. Use applet:morph to find pages using applets called morph.
    domain:domainname Finds pages within the specified domain. Use domain:de to find pages from Germany, or use domain:org to find pages from organizations.
    host:name Finds pages on a specific computer. The search would find pages on the AltaVista computer, and would find pages on the computer called dilbert at
    image:filename Finds pages with images having a specific filename. Use image:elvis to find pages with images called elvis.
    link:URLtext Finds pages with a link to a page with the specified URL text. Use to find all pages linking to AltaVista.
    text:text Finds pages that contain the specified text in any part of the page other than an image tag, link, or URL. The search text:cow9 would find all pages with the term cow9 in them.
    title:text Finds pages that contain the specified word or phrase in the page title (which appears in the title bar of most browsers). The search title:Elvis would find pages with Elvis in the title.
    url:text Finds pages with a specific word or phrase in the URL. Use url:altavista to find all pages on all servers that have the word altavista in the host name, path, or filename--the complete URL, in other words.

    Special Functions for Usenet Searches
    from:username@addressFinds articles posted with the specified e-mail address. For example, use to find presidential postings.
    subject:"text" Finds articles with the specified word or phrase in the Subject field. Use subject:"basketball playoffs" to find postings with "basketball playoffs" in the subject.
    newsgroups:groupnameFinds articles posted in the specified newsgroup. Use just part of the group name to match a range of groups, like newsgroups:nl to match all groups from the Netherlands.
    summary:textFinds articles with the specified word or phrase in the Summary field. Use summary:playoffs to find postings with playoffs in the summary field.
    keywords:textFinds articles containing keywords matching the specified word or portion of a word. Use keywords:beta to find postings with beta in the keywords field.

    AltaVista allows you to search through "the Web" or "Usenet". By selecting "the Web" you can search through all of the web pages in our index. By selecting "Usenet" you will be searching through all of the articles posted to Usenet (Internet wide discussion groups) in the last two weeks. The Usenet index is updated continuously, so when an article is submitted, it will be indexed within a few minutes. The Web index is updated on a daily basis through the the Add/Remove URL function. The index is completely rebuilt periodically to clear out old links, re-examine all of the sites in our index and find new sites on the web.
    AltaVista allows you to limit your results to those of a particular language. This is very helpful when you perform a search and find that many of the results are not in your native language.
Refining a query:
    If you find that too many results are coming back on your search, you can use Cow9, our refine tool, to narrow your search. Cow9 dynamically sorts your results into different topics allowing you to move your search in the right direction. For more information see the Cow9 help.
Case Sensitivity:
    Use only lower case unless you want your search to be case sensitive. If you search for Coffee, you'll get only documents that include that word with just that capitalization. If you search for coffee, you'll get any page with that word.
Using Wildcards:
    Use an asterisk (*) to broaden your search. To find any words that start with gold, use gold* to find matches for gold, goldfinch, goldfinger, and golden. Use this if the word you are searching for could have different endings. (for example, don't search for dog, search for dog* if it could be plural)
The Results:
    To open results in a separate window, click on the window icon ( Preview ) located at the left of each result URL.
Special Characters and Punctuation
    AltaVista Search defines a word as any string of letters and digits that is separated by either:
    White space, such as spaces, tabs, line ends, or the start or end of a document, or Special characters and punctuation, such as %, $, /, #, and _

    AltaVista ignores punctuation except to interpret it as a separator for words. Placing punctuation or special characters between each word, with no spaces between the characters and the words, is also a way to indicate a phrase. For example, consider searching for a telephone number. Entering 1-800-555-1212 is easier than entering "1 800 555 1212", which is an equally acceptable syntax, but is less natural. Hyphenated words, such as CD-ROM, also automatically form a phrase because of the hyphen.

    Normally, however, we recommend using double quotes to indicate a phrase because some special characters have additional meaning:

    • In both Simple and Advanced Search, you can use the asterisk (*) as a wildcard indicating that you want to find all words containing a match for the specified pattern of letters.
    • The + and - characters are operators that help to filter the results of a Simple Search.
    • The &, |, ~, and ! characters are operators that help to filter the results of an Advanced Search.
Multinational Characters
    AltaVista supports exact-match searches for characters in the ISO Latin-1 character set. That is, you can enter a word containing an accent or other diacritical mark, and AltaVista will find only documents with the accented spelling of the word.

    Character(s) Mapping Character(s) Mapping
    Æ AE æ ae
    Á Â À Å Ã ÄAá â à å ã äa
    ÇCç c
    Ð Dð d
    É Ê È Ë Eé ê è ë e
    Í Î Ì Ï Ií î ì ï i
    Ñ Nñ n
    Ó Ô Ò Ø Õ ÖOó ô ò ø õ ö o
    Þ THþ th
    Ú Û Ù Ü Uú û ù ü u
    Ý Yý ÿy
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