Get more bang for your Bing
Search, shop, and schedule travel with ease
Getting information on the web is easy. Getting the information you need from a search provider is something else altogether. But it's easy with what's been called Microsoft's "decision engine"—Bing. Here's our overview of the features that we like the best, and find the most useful.
Bing has a variety of interesting capabilities, so that you might find yourself using it in several ways, all at once. For example, Bing is helping me plan my upcoming trip to attend my cousin's wedding in Los Angeles. I can confidently book the flight and hotel through Bing travel, with its price predictor "farecast technology" to tell me whether the flight price is likely to go up or down in the next few weeks based on historical data. I'm using the new visual search feature on Bing to help me find and purchase a new digital camera to take the wedding photos. And I plan to use Bing to check traffic conditions, find restaurants, and purchase concert tickets while I'm in town.
The best part is that, whatever you're looking for, Bing organizes the results in a common-sense way, and allows you to preview each search result with its preview feature that pops up when your mouse hovers over the right edge of a search result.
Let your mouse hover over the right edge of each search result, and you'll see a helpful preview of the page referenced in the link.
I have to admit it: the search capabilities aren't what inspired me to make Bing my homepage. No, I made Bing my homepage because I love their daily pictures. (It was easy to make it my homepage, by the way—I clicked their "make Bing your homepage" link at the top of the page so that the Bing site opens whenever I use Internet Explorer). Sure, it's "just" a small detail—but I've found that small corners of beauty like this provide me with a moment of breathing space, and make my day a little nicer.
Pretty pictures: the daily pictures on Bing can provide a moment of visual respite in the midst of a busy day.
When I need a moment to de-stress, I take a look at the picture, and when I need a quick break, I hunt for the three or four hidden facts embedded in each picture. I've learned fun, party-worthy trivia facts from those hidden hotspots, like the length of the Great Wall of China, the location of a gorgeous waterfall in Iceland, what the koala's forest habitat really looks like, and what a Korean temple in the Taebaek mountains looks like in winter.
On Monday mornings, I tend to scroll back, using the arrows at the bottom right, to see the pictures I missed over the weekend, just for fun.
I was excited to find out that requests for images have inspired the team to add a Bing image theme to Windows 7. Right click on your desktop, choose "personalize," and then click on "get more themes online" to find the entire Windows 7 personalization gallery, including the best of Bing's imagery. Within your computer's "personalize" menu, you can choose which images you want to rotate as your wallpaper, and how quickly they change.
Jumpstart your searches
On the left side of that amazing photo-of-the-day on the Bing homepage, there's an option that lets you jump-start your search. Click a category, such as Images, Videos, or Shopping, and you'll be swiftly on your way to finding your information.
To jump-start your search, try clicking on a search category, found listed along the left side of the Bing homepage.
Alternatively, you can also just type your query in the search box. For example, start typing "how many ounces are" and Bing gives you the option to immediately click on a wide variety of completed queries (see snapshot below), such as:
in a gallon,
in a cup,
in a teaspoon,
in 1 liter,
in a shot,
in a bottle of wine,
Suggestions will appear as you type to help you phrase and narrow-down your query. So if you can't quite remember how a word is spelled, you can let Bing come up with the spelling for you. As soon as you've finished typing, Bing starts processing your query.
And the results are…
In response to your query, you'll see the results page, with a list of relevant links. You may think that it's just a random list—but it isn't. Bing has already conducted a preliminary analysis for you and organized the results in an order that makes sense for the type of search you seem to be conducting.
Are you making a purchase, planning a trip, researching a health condition, or finding a local business? Different kinds of searches will give you different kinds of results. For example, if I simply type "Los Angeles" in the search box, I see links to the official city site, Wikipedia, newspapers and tourist guides, followed by links grouped by categories such tourism, weather, and jobs. If I search for a medical condition, such as "fear of flying," I first see links to sites that define the condition. Under that, there are links to sites grouped by categories such as symptoms, medication, and support groups. On the left navigation explore pane, there are related searches listed that may narrow down your search even better.
And whenever it makes sense, Bing gives you the answer outright, not only the links. Query "Los Angeles zip codes" and you'll get the list of codes as well as links to the zip code sites. "Weather Los Angeles" and "Movies Los Angeles" will give you instant weather forecasts and movie listings right on the results page—no extra clicking required.
Have you ever wondered how you might be able to speed up your search? Check out the helpful hints in the FAQ on the left side of the Bing help page.
See before you click with Preview
Here's another reason you may never have to leave the results page: hover. Point, but don't click. For text links, just point to the right edge of the link and you'll see a pop-up window showing you the first few paragraphs of text from the site. Without leaving the results list, you'll get a glimpse of the content to give you a better idea of whether or not it'll be helpful.
This is especially helpful if you're searching for photos or images or videos. Hover over the image thumbnail and you'll see the details for the photo. And when you hover on a video thumbnail in the results page, the video begins to play back sample segments, seven seconds at a time, right there on the results page.
Explore some more with the explore pane
Sometimes Bing seems to be giving my queries more forethought than I have. This is most evident in what you see in the column on the left side of the results page, called the explore pane. Let's say you type "LA Lakers" in the search box. At the top of the explore pane, you'll see a list of categories, such as News, Rumors, and Tickets. Under that, there are related searches, such as LA Lakers Players and LA Lakers Blog.
At the bottom of the pane, you can see your search history, visible at all times to remind you of how you got where you are.
Tell me more
Besides this article, there are a lot of sources you can access to find out more about Bing. There's been a lot in the popular press about Bing, for example in the New York Times, CNN, PC World, and elsewhere. You can also check out the Tour Bing feature to see it in action. Help, in the lower right corner, also provides some fantastic step-by-step examples for those who want more detail than we provide in this overview.
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