AOL Search FAQs

AOL Search provides extensive search results along with convenient one-click access to relevant web content, including web results, images, videos, maps, and more. It offers a complete search experience by delivering a diverse range of results in a single search, eliminating the need for additional search queries.

General FAQs


Many users prefer not to have adult sites included in their search results, especially if their kids use the computer. AOL search offers you the SafeSearch feature, which prevents sites containing explicit sexual content from appearing in your search results. No filter is 100 percent effective, but SafeSearch eliminates most inappropriate sites from your search results.

To turn the SafeSearch feature on/off:

1. Go to AOL Search.
2. Click Settings at the bottom of the page.
3.In the Preferences section, next to SafeSearch, choose the option you prefer from the drop-down menu.The options available are:

Strict - Filter out adult images and videos from your search results and text links to explicit content. This option will not display adult content when your search contains adult query terms.
Moderate - Filter out adult images and videos from your search results.
Off - This option will display adult content when your search contains adult query terms.

4. Click Save.

Search History

The Search History feature keeps track of your searches for the last 30 days, making it easy to return to your previous search results. The Search History feature is available only when you are signed in, and AOL Search will display Search History only for searches done while signed in.

View Search History

You can view your Search History by clicking on the History drop-down arrow at the upper-right corner of the page. This feature is available only when you are signed in.

Manage Search History

To manage your Search History, click on the History drop-down arrow in the upper-right corner of the search results page. This will show you the last five queries that you searched. If you want to see more of your historical searches, click on the Go to Search History link and it will show you all the searches for current day and prior.

Clear Search History

AOL Search offers you a Search History feature that keeps track of your searches for 30 days. Search History helps you get back to your previous search results faster; however, if you wish to keep your search private, you can clear your history. To clear your Search History, click on the History drop-down arrow and then click the Clear link. Alternatively, you can view and clear your search history by following the steps listed below.

To clear Search History:

1. Go to
2. Click Sign In.
3. Type your AOL Username or Email and Password in the text boxes and then click Sign In.
4. Type a keyword in the search box and click Search.
5. Click the History drop-down arrow.
6.Click Go to Search History.
7. Click Clear History.
8. Click Yes to confirm.

Important - If you're using the AOL Desktop Software and continue to see your Search History, please clear your footprints as well.

Suspend and stop Search History tracking

To suspend and stop tracking of your Search History, click on the History drop-down arrow and then click on the Suspend link. Or you can click on the Suspend History link on the Search History page. Suspending your Search History will not clear your existing history; you must use the Clear link to remove your Search History.

Turn Search History on or off

We offer Search History as a feature on AOL Search providing you relevant search experience, such as saved searches and targeted special offers based on your earlier searches. When Search History is enabled, personal information about the searches you perform on the AOL service and the actions you take with the results of those searches may be analyzed to help create a more relevant experience.

It is important to note that turning off Search History doesn't clear previously saved search history.

To turn on or turn off Search History:

1. Go to AOL Search.
2. If you're not already signed in, sign in to AOL Search using your Username and Password.
3. Click Settings at the bottom of the page.
4. Click the Search History section and choose the option that you prefer. The options available are:

• content
Turn History Off / On
Clear History

Search Verticals

AOL Search offers a number of search verticals to help you find the information you want quickly and easily. These are located just below the search box at the top of the search results page. The default option is always web search, but you can select another by typing your search term in the box and clicking the name of the category.

AOL Search currently offers the following search vertical options:


Web results are websites listed with the highest relevance appearing first.


Image search results are images sorted by relevance, with images of the highest relevance appearing first. A number of factors are considered when determining whether an image is relevant to your search request. Because these methods are not entirely foolproof, it's possible some inappropriate pictures may be included among the images you see.


Video search results are videos that are sorted by relevance of the video in the descending order. A number of factors are considered when determining whether a video is relevant to your search request. Since these methods are not entirely foolproof, it is possible some inappropriate videos may be included in the list that you see.


Use the Maps search to find locations and directions at Mapquest.

Use AOL Search

The easiest way to search on AOL Search is to simply type a word or a phrase that describes what you're looking for in the search box on, then click Search or press the Enter key. If you are looking for images or video information, try one of our specialized search features. Just select the appropriate link below the search box.

Tips to help your search:

Select your search terms carefully. Use specific, descriptive words instead of general ones. For example, searching for blueberry pancake recipes instead of recipes increases your chances of finding blueberry pancake recipes.
To find an exact phrase, put quote marks around your search terms. For example, use "Charlie and the Chocolate factory" to find content for the movie. You can also use hyphens to connect a phrase such as brother-in-law.
To exclude specific words in your search, type a minus sign (-) in front of the search term. For example, to find content about vegetables with no mention of zucchini, search for vegetables -zucchini. Make sure to include a space before the minus sign (-), but not after.
To find content for two or more topics of equal interest, use OR in between your search words. For example, to find information on either poodles or schnoodles, search for poodles OR schnoodles.
If you don't get any results with search words, try using different words with the same meaning.
You don’t have to worry about capitalization when entering search terms. AOL Search doesn’t differentiate between uppercase and lowercase letters.
You don't need to use "and" between words in your search. AOL Search automatically inserts and between words separated by a space.

Date Range filter

The date range filter allows you to see search results that have been updated within a specific time period. This is helpful for finding the latest news, for example, or for limiting the number of results that are returned for your query. The default time period is set to Anytime, so there are no time restrictions on results. If you’d like to see results limited to the last day, click on Tools and in the Anytime menu click Past 24 hours.

Features in AOL Search

Have you ever glanced at a search results page and felt unsure about the various elements it contains? In this lesson, we'll clarify the purpose of each component and how they can aid you in swiftly and effectively finding the results you're seeking. Familiarizing yourself with these features will enable you to optimize your search experience.

Sponsored Links

Sponsored links are ads displayed prominently at the top of the search results page, easily identifiable by their distinct background color. In contrast to generic magazine or television advertisements aimed at a wide audience, search ads are customized to align with your specific search query. Search advertisers engage in keyword auctions to secure ad placement on the search results page. When users enter those keywords in the search box, the winning ads are shown. Ad positioning is determined by factors like the highest bid and keyword relevance, ensuring you see ads that matter to you while helping advertisers connect with their target audience effectively.Consider a scenario where a national restaurant chain, a frozen foods company, and a local pizza parlor bid for the keyword "pizza" in the ad auction. While the frozen foods company might have the highest bid, if the search provider recognizes that most "pizza" searches seek take-out options, this ad becomes less relevant compared to the others. Consequently, in this situation, the frozen pizza ad could appear third, trailing behind the national chain and the local pizza parlor.

More Offers

In certain searches, you might notice an extra line of text beneath the sponsored links results. These represent additional web offers and provide you with the opportunity to explore ads related to search terms similar to the one you initially entered. For instance, if your "pizza" search yielded ads that were too broad for your specific needs, you can access more focused ads by clicking on one of the "More Offers" links, such as "frozen pizza," "pizza recipes," or "pizza delivery." It's worth emphasizing that if you choose one of these options, all the results on the "More Offers" page consist of advertisements.

Organic Link

Most search terms primarily yield organic links, which are displayed below sponsored links and are ranked by their relevance to the search query. These organic results are determined by the search engine's algorithm. In certain cases, the leading organic results might coincide with, or closely resemble, the sponsored links. For instance, when searching for "pizza," you may observe that the top organic result corresponds to the same national pizza chain featured in the top sponsored link.

AOL Featured Results

AOL's extensive content network encompasses news, entertainment, lifestyle, sports, maps, weather, and more. As a result, you may occasionally encounter a special result known as a "Featured Result" positioned above the top organic result. These Featured Results aim to expedite your access to relevant information by tailoring the results to match the content commonly sought by other AOL Search users. The specific information presented in a Featured Result depends on the entered query. For instance, a search for "pizza" may display recipes and cooking tips from the AOL Lifestyle channel, which specializes in food content. Alternatively, a "weather" query would reveal the 5-day forecast for your location.

Search Suggestions

As you start typing your query in AOL Search, a dropdown menu with search term suggestions appears below the search box. This search suggestions feature aims to save you time and prevent typing errors by providing relevant suggestions based on your input. For instance, if you enter "piz" when searching for pizza, you'll receive suggestions like pizza coupons, pizza recipes, pizza ovens, and more. Clicking on any of these suggestions will initiate a search for that term.

Related Searches

At the bottom of the AOL Search results page, you'll find 'Related searches' - these are links to terms closely related to your initial query. They can assist in broadening or refining your search results. Choosing one of these options leads to a new results page containing both sponsored and organic links related to the new term. For instance, when searching for "pizza," you might encounter related searches for different pizza styles or online pizza ordering options.

Search History

The search history feature, available to logged-in users via the Sign In link in the search page header, helps you access recent searches. It allows you to sort searches by type (web results and images), which is useful for tasks like comparison shopping and research that involve revisiting previous searches. By default, your search history is retained for 30 days and then automatically removed. You can also manually delete specific searches within this period by clicking the History drop-down arrow at the top right of the search page and selecting the Clear option. Additionally, you can delete individual search terms by clicking the Go to Search History link and using the trash bin icon next to the query term.

Advanced Search

You can refine your search results using the symbols listed in the table below, especially when seeking precise information on a broad subject. It's important to note that the more criteria you apply, the fewer results you'll obtain. Some trial and error might be necessary to determine the right level of refinement for optimal results.

+Finds webpages that contain all the terms that are preceded by the + symbol. Also allows you to include terms that are usually ignored.
" "Finds the exact words in a phrase.
()Finds or excludes webpages that contain a group of words.

or &
Finds webpages that contain all the terms or phrases.

or -
Excludes webpages that contain a term or phrase.
OR or |Finds webpages that contain either of the terms or phrases.

• By default, all searches are AND searches.
• You must capitalize the NOT and OR operators. Otherwise, it will be ignored.
• Stop words and all punctuation marks, except for the symbols noted in this topic, are ignored unless they are surrounded by quotation marks or preceded by the + symbol.
• Only the first 10 terms are used to get search results.
• Term grouping and Boolean operators are supported in the following preferred order: parentheses (), quotation marks "", NOT + -, AND &, OR |.
• Because OR is the operator with lowest precedence, enclose OR terms in parentheses when combined with other operators in a search.
• Some features and functionality described here may not be available in your country or region.

Advanced Search Keywords

Advanced keywords can give you even better search results so that you find only what you want. Use the following keywords to help limit and focus your searches:
contains:Keeps results focused on sites that have links to the file types that you specify.To search for websites that contain links to Microsoft Windows Media Audio (.wma) files, type music contains:wma.
ext:Returns only webpages with the filename extension that you specify.To find reports created only in DOCX format, type your subject, followed by ext:docx.
filetypeReturns only webpages created in the file type that you specify.To find reports created in PDF format, type your subject, followed by filetype:pdf.
or inbody:
or intitle:
These keywords return webpages that contain the specified term in the metadata, such as the anchor, body, or title of the site, respectively. Specify only one term per keyword. You can string multiple keyword entries as needed.To find webpages that contain “msn” in the anchor, and the terms “spaces” and “magog” in the body, type inanchor:msn inbody:spaces inbody:magog.
ip:Finds sites that are hosted by a specific IP address. The IP address must be a dotted quad address. Type the ip: keyword, followed by the IP address of the website.Type IP:
language:Returns webpages for a specific language. Specify the language code directly after the language: keyword.To see webpages only in English about antiques, type "antiques" language:en.
loc: or location:Returns webpages from a specific country or region. Specify the country or region code directly after the loc: keyword. To focus on two or more languages, use a logical OR to group the languages.To see webpages about sculpture from the U.S. or Great Britain, type sculpture (loc:US OR loc:GB). For a list of language codes that you can use with Bing, see Country, region, and language codes.
prefer:Adds emphasis to a search term or another operator to help focus the search results.To find results about football but that primarily pertain to the organization, type football prefer:organization.
site:Returns webpages that belong to the specified site. To focus on two or more domains, use a logical OR to group the domains. You can use site: to search for web domains, top level domains, and directories that are not more than two levels deep. You can also search for webpages that contain a specific search word on a site.To see webpages about heart disease from the BBC or CNN websites, type "heart disease" ( OR To find webpages about the PC version of Halo on the Microsoft website, type
feed:Finds RSS or Atom feeds on a website for the terms you search for.To find RSS or Atom feeds about football, type feed:football.
hasfeed:Finds webpages that contain an RSS or Atom feed on a website for the terms you search for.To find webpages on the New York Times website that contain RSS or Atom feeds, type hasfeed:football.
url:Checks whether the listed domain or web address is in the Bing index.To verify that the Microsoft domain is in the index, type


• Don't include a space after the colon in these keywords.
• Some features and functionality described here may not be available in your country or region.

Authenticated Browsing

Authenticating your browsing experience unlocks AOL Search's advanced features. Simply log in with an AIM or AOL Username using the Sign In link in the header. This enables personalized results based on your location and grants access to your search history.

Build a great search query

We turn to web search for various information, ranging from consumer reports to local news and book reviews, and even reconnecting with old friends from high school. However, your ability to obtain the desired information depends on your skill in crafting effective search queries. In other words, the quality of your web search results is directly tied to the query you construct. In this section, we'll begin by examining how to create queries from scratch, starting with basic keyword searches and later exploring the impact of broadening and refining your language.

Keyword queries

Keywords are the building blocks of web queries. These are simple words such as the following:


Typing a basic keyword in a search box prompts the search engine to scan its index for websites containing that keyword. It then delivers the top results, considering relevance and popularity.

A single keyword often yields overly broad results. To refine your search, combine words into keyword phrases. Experiment with the examples below and compare them to the basic keywords above:

Chicago pizza
Baltimore baseball stadium
Beagle puppies

Now, rather than getting results that contain only one word, you'll get a list of sites that contain all of the words in your query.

Keyword searches can vary in word count, but remember that using more words usually results in fewer search results. To determine the level of detail you require, consider the specific results you're aiming for. Take Chicago pizza as an example from earlier. What type of information are you seeking? Is it related to Chicago-style pizza, Chicago-based restaurants, or pizza recipes? Click on the links below to view examples of search results for each type of query:

Chicago pizza
What is Chicago style pizza?
Pizza 60613
Chicago pizza recipe

If you are still not finding the information you need, you can try refining your search some more by adding to or changing parts of your keyword phrase.

Expand or narrow your search

Expanding and narrowing your query allows you to add or subtract from the result set by setting additional parameters for your search. A few of the most common and useful examples include:

Search for exact matches using quotation marks
When you conduct a keyword search, the results will contain all of your keywords but not necessarily as one phrase. If you only want to see results with the words in the exact order you specify, you can enclose the phrase in quotation marks to limit the results to pages that contain all of the words in order. This can be helpful if your phrase contains several common words.

Compare these results for a common name:

Jonathan A Smith
"Jonathan A Smith"

You can also use quotation marks to get an exact match for part of your query only.

Compare these results with the ones above. Notice that the name is an exact match, but biography may appear anywhere within the results:

"Jonathan A Smith" biography

Use the minus sign to subtract keywords from the results.

If you only want to see some search results and not others, you can specify keywords to exclude from the results. Note that the minus sign has to be immediately in front of the excluded word (no spaces). For example:

Results about Michael Jackson albums other than "Thriller":

Michael Jackson albums -Thriller

Results for all puppy supplies except crates:

Puppy supplies -Crates


Use OR to find either of two terms
When you use the word OR in your search you can specify that you want two separate types of results. This can be handy for comparing prices, statistics, product reviews, etc.

Trying to decide where to spend your vacation? Use OR to compare packages in two places:

Vacation packages Mexico OR Aruba

Interested in seeing trends over time? Use OR to compare statistics:

US GDP 1979 OR 1969

Tips for a better local search

We often hear from users seeking ways to enhance their local information search. This is understandable as the demand for local search queries continues to rise annually. Learning how to perform efficient local searches can streamline your access to community resources. In this post, we'll explore various local search types and the enhancements AOL Search offers for an improved local search experience.

Tips for a better product search

In today's economy, being cost-conscious is crucial, making thorough research before buying even more essential. Whether you're starting your purchase journey, price comparing, or making a specific buy, AOL Search can assist in informed shopping decisions. This lesson explores techniques to enhance your web search during the purchasing process.

Research your purchase

When you start researching a purchase, consider comparing different makes or models. You'll find helpful ratings and reviews on various websites. Begin with a basic keyword search to get started.

For example, try:

digital camera reviews
compare digital cameras
digital SLR reviews
compare cheap digital cameras

If you already have an idea of which cameras you'll be considering, you can also try a keyword search for a brand or a specific product line. For example, try:

Canon digital camera reviews
Canon EOS Rebel reviews

A search engine operates by performing specific functions

When seeking online information, many people turn to search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, or AOL Search. These search engines function as digital indexes, organizing available content by topic and sub-topic, much like an index in a book. Each search engine builds its index using distinct methods, typically beginning with an automated program called a spider or crawler. These spiders visit websites across the internet, categorizing information based on keywords or phrases found on each page. After indexing, spiders use links to discover and index new content from other websites.Unlike the alphabetically searchable index of a printed book, search engines manage vast databases of pages, making alphabetical searches impractical. Instead, they rely on query language to assist users in finding information. Additionally, search engines have the capacity to adapt and provide context based on user interactions, helping to resolve ambiguities in search queries, such as distinguishing between the bird, the football team, or the band when searching for 'eagles'.

Set websites to open in a new tab or new browser window in AOL Search

You can set AOL Search to open websites in the same browser window, a new browser window or a new tab. Please follow the steps below to learn how.

To set websites to open in a new tab, a new window or the same browser window:

1. Go to
2. Sign in to your AOL account.
3. Click Settingsat the bottom of the page.
4. In the Preferences section, next to Open search results, choose the option that you prefer from the drop-down menu. The options available are:

• content
• content

5. Click Save.