You've got a file that needs opening, or a piece of software that, frankly, sucks. Want to find a better or maybe free alternative? One reader has found Google's auto-completing "Suggest" feature a great recommendation engine.
We'll let reader Alex tell the tale himself:
Mainly, this tip is for when you're looking for a list of products that all fall into a single category. All you have to do is type a single example of the product, followed by " vs", and you'll get a pretty exhaustive list of alternatives.
For instance, let's say you're looking for new text editors. The one you're familiar with is notepad++. Go to the Google home page and type: "notepad++ vs" and wait a moment. The auto-complete will pop up with a list:
Textpad Notepad2 UltraEdit PSPad Programmer's Notepad
... There—you now have a list of further research topics. For a slightly bigger list you can pick one of your results and repeat the process - In this case, type "jedit vs". I recently used this in a quest to find a self-hosted equivalent of github that would host some of my code. "github vs" gave me a much larger number of products to research than any single web page had been able to provide me.
As Alex further notes, this system is sometimes better than even the Wikipedia pages that are just giant lists of software compared by features, since those pages are often subject to bias on the part of the selective crew of Wikipedia editors.
Know another search project that the Google Suggest box is perfect for? Tell us in the comments.