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Microsoft Bing masterclass - top tips & tricks

Use search and maps more efficiently

When it comes to online search engines and maps, there's one name that springs to mind: Google. Whether you're searching for a particular phrase or locating an address using Google Maps, the company has got it all sewn up. Or it did until Microsoft Bing came along.

More than just a browser

Like Google, Microsoft's Bing can do a lot more than provide simple search results. Here are some of its other uses:

Calculator: Type your calculation into the search bar and click the magnifying glass. The results page will display the answer, plus any relevant web pages.

Bing calculator

Dictionary: Type a word, followed by define or definition, into the search bar and Bing will display its meaning.

Bing dictionary

Weather forecaster: Type weather followed by your current location to get a five-day forecast of how things are shaping up.

Bing weather

Currency converter: Type an amount of one currency followed by that which you want to convert it into, such as 12 euros in GBP.

Bing currency

Security and privacy

Security and privacy settings for both your search engine and your browser should be adjusted for the individual user. Bing offers three levels of filtering, suitable for children, teenagers and adults. To change the security settings, head to the Preferences menu in Bing or the Search Settings menu in Google.

Mozilla, the organisation behind the Firefox web browser, recently urged web users to switch to Bing after Google's chief executive Eric Schmidt played down the need for security during a TV interview. A toolbar for Firefox that lets you use the search engine without navigating to the site is available here.

Internet Explorer (IE) 8.0 integrates Bing search slightly differently. An accelerator function lets you perform in-page searches without navigating away from the current page. Right-click a highlighted word or phrase on a web page or hover the cursor over the blue icon above the word to enter a Bing search term. Accelerators for other sites including Amazon and eBay are also available.

IE 8.0 also offers Web Slices, letting you keep up to date with such things as the weather and the top news stories without needing to navigate away from your current page. Visit the Bing News page and add the Top Story Web Slice to your Favorites bar. This will be highlighted when new information appears.

>> NEXT PAGE: Step-by-step guide to Bing's extra features

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