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Home > Engines & Directories > AltaVista 


News Alert: AltaVista is Dead!

Now owned by Yahoo, it is serving up results from the new Yahoo search engine. As of early April 2004, its index/results don't exist anywhere.

 How AltaVista works 

Default search:

All keywords as if connected by AND. If all the words occur as a phrase, that page will rank higher.

Search options:


anchor:textFinds pages that contain the specified word or phrase in the text of a hyperlink. anchor:"Click here to visit alta vista home page" would find pages with "Click here to visit alta vista home page" as a link. 
applet:classFinds pages that contain a specified Java applet. Use applet:morph to find pages using applets called morph.
domain:domainnameFinds pages within the specified domain. Use domain:uk to find pages from the United Kingdom, or use domain:com to find pages from commercial sites.
host:nameFinds pages on a specific computer. The search would find pages on the computer, and would find pages on the computer called dilbert at
image:filenameFinds pages with images having a specific filename. Use image:altavista to find pages with images called altavista. 
link:URLtextFinds pages with a link to a page with the specified URL text. Use to find all pages linking to 
title:textFinds pages that contain the specified word or phrase in the page title (which appears in the title bar of most browsers). The search title:sunset would find pages with sunset in the title. 
url:textFinds pages with a specific word or phrase in the URL. Use url:rate to find all pages on all servers that have the word rate in the host name, path, or filename--the complete URL, in other words.
*AltaVista's wild card or truncation symbol, the * or asterisk, has expanded so that it covers an unlimited number of characters. So bed* would find bedlam, bedroom, bedraggled etc.


Refine your search with AltaVista Prisma - a list of suggested refined searches at the top of the results.

 How to submit your URL 

Free submission: You must visit this page. It's tedious, but helps reduce their spam problems.
It is possible to pay to get listed faster.

 Useful Links 

Family Filter
Using the Family Filter can exclude undesirable content from search results.

Selecting "All except Web Pages" will remove offensive images from your images and video search.

"All" blocks sites and pages containing content related to any of the following:

  • Drugs
  • Alcohol or Tobacco
  • Gambling
  • Hate Speech
  • Sexual Explicitness
  • Violence
  • Internet chat rooms

A parody of AltaVista: HastaLaVista

Report Spam

 Facts & Figures 

Alta Vista is owned and operated by CMGI, Inc (who bought it from Compaq in mid-1999), and has been operating since 1995 (started by Digital). For a long time it was the largest index. Currently Google, FAST and NBCi (Inktomi powered) are all larger. In 1999 it added Ask Jeeves search technology (allowing you to ask natural language questions, instead of just keywords). Its attempt to sell the top positions of search results was discontinued in July 1999. In 2000 AltaVista threw out it's old index and started afresh. A long period of being next to useless saw it lose favour amongst searchers.

Feb 2001: Altavista quits trying to be a portal, and drops all non-search related content, such as Clubs, Photo Albums, Home Pages, Message Boards, and Chat.

Mar 2001: Altavista enhances their search engine by incorporating news headlines in the results, powered by Moreover.

June 2002: Index grows to 1.1 billion, and introduces Prisma, which basically offers related keywords options.

Feb 2003: Now owned by Overture.

Mid 2003: Overture in turn bought by Yahoo

Size: 1.7 billion
Searches per day: 50 million

Popularity: 10th most popular search site. 6% of USA searchers used it during Jan 2002 - although it is much more popular in some other countries, like Sweden (36.2%). Sep 2003, it has ranked 17th of all websites in the U.S., with 9.5 million unique visitors.

Number of links on their Home Page: 41


Need any help with using AltaVista? Send me a message:
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