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Hack 64. Google by Email

Access 10 of Google's search results at a time via email.

Long before the Web existed, there was email. And now, thanks to the Google API, there's Google email. Created by the team at Cape Clear (, CapeMail queries Google via email. Send email to with the query in the subject line. You'll receive a message back with the estimated results count and the first 10 results.

Here's an excerpt from a search for Frankenstein:

Estimated Total Results Number = 591000

  URL  = ""

  Title = "Online Literature Library - Mary Shelley - Frankenstein"

  Snippet = "Next Back Contents Home Authors Contact, Frankenstein. 

Mary Shelley. Preface; Chapter 1; Chapter 2; Chapter 3; Chapter 4; 

Chapter 5; Chapter 6; Chapter 7; Chapter ...  "

  URL  = ""

  Title = "Frankenstein Exhibit Home Page"

  Snippet = "Table of Contents Introduction The Birth of Frankenstein, 

The Celluloid Monster. Promise and Peril, Frankenstein: The Modern 

Prometheus. ...  "

  URL  = ""

  Title = "Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus"

  Snippet = "1818 (this edition 1831) Frankenstein is the world-famous 

story of a doctor whose brilliant mind gets the better of him. "

  URL  = ""

  Title = "Frankenstein (1931)"

  Snippet = "Frankenstein (1931) - Cast, Crew, Reviews, Plot Summary, 

Comments, Discussion, Taglines, Trailers, Posters, Photos, Showtimes, 

Link to Official Site, Fan Sites. ...  "

Like many other Google API applications, you can use CapeMail only 1,000 times per day, since the Google API allows the use of the key only that many times. Don't rely on this to the exclusion of other ways to access Google. But if you're in a situation where web searching is not quite as easy as sending an email message—you're on the go with a mobile phone or PDA, for example—this is a quick and easy way to interface with Google.

5.7.1. Hacking the Hack

CapeMail comes in handy with the combination of an email application and a way to automate sending messages (Unix's cron, for example). Say you're researching a particular topic—a relatively obscure topic but one that does generate web page results. You could set up your scheduler (or even your email program if able to send timed messages) to fire off a message to CapeMail once a day, gather, and archive the search results. Further, you could use your email's filtering rules to divert the CapeMail messages to their own folder for offline browsing. Make sure your search is fairly narrow, though, because CapeMail returns only 10 results at a time.

Google Alerts [Hack #59] are more apropos for this sort of application, but CapeMail was interesting enough to be worth mentioning.

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