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Hack 6. Google Phonebook: Let Google's Fingers Do the Walking
Google makes an excellent phonebook, even to the extent of doing reverse lookups.
Google combines residential and business phone number information and its own excellent interface to offer a phonebook lookup that provides listings for businesses and residences in the United States. However, the search offers three different syntaxes, different levels of information provide different results, the syntaxes are finicky, and Google doesn't provide documentation.
1.18.1. The Three Syntaxes
1.18.2. Using the Syntaxes
Using a standard phonebook requires knowing quite a bit of information about what you're looking for: first name, last name, city, and state. Google's phonebook requires no more than last name and state to get it started. Casting a wide net for all the Smiths in California is as simple as:
Try giving 411 a whirl with that request! Figure 1-17 shows the results of the query.
Figure 1-17. A phonebook: result page
Notice that, while intuition might tell you that there are thousands of Smiths in California, the Google phonebook says that there are only 600. Just as Google's regular search engine maxes out at 1,000 results, its phonebook maxes out at 600. Fair enough. Try narrowing down your search by adding a first name, city, or both:
phonebook:john smith los angeles ca
At the time of this writing, the Google phonebook found 2 business and 20 residential listings for John Smith in Los Angeles, California.
1.18.4. Reverse Phonebook Lookup
All three phonebook syntaxes support reverse lookup, though it's probably best to use the general phonebook: syntax to avoid not finding what you're looking for due to its residential or business classification.
To do a reverse search, just enter the phone number with area code. Lookups without area code won't work.
(This is the phone number of O'Reilly world headquarters in Sebastopol, California, USA.)
Note that reverse lookups on Google are a hit-or-miss proposition and don't always produce results. If you're not having any luck, consider using a more dedicated phonebook site such as WhitePages.com (http://www.whitepages.com/).
1.18.5. Finding Phonebooks Using Google
While Google's phonebook is a good starting point, its usefulness is limited. If you're looking for a phone number at a university or other large institution, while you won't find the number in Google, you certainly can find the appropriate phonebook, if it's online.
If you're looking for a university phonebook, try this simple search first: inurl:phone site:university.edu, replacing university.edu with the domain of the university you're looking for. For example, to find the online phonebook of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, you'd search for:
If that doesn't work, there are several variations you can try, again substituting your preferred university's domain for unc.edu:
title:"phone book" site:unc.edu (phonebook | "phone book") lookup faculty staff site:unc.edu inurl:help (phonebook | "phone book") site:unc.edu
If you're looking for several university phonebooks, try the same search with the more generic site:edu rather than a specific university's domain. There are also web sites that list university phonebooks, one of which is the Phonebook Gateway Server Lookup (http://www.uiuc.edu/cgi-bin/ph/lookup), with over 330 phonebooks.
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