Search and email remain the two online activities that are nearly universal among adult internet users, as 92% of online adults use search engines to find information on the Web, and a similar number (92%) use email. Since the Pew Internet Project began measuring adults’ online activities in the last decade, these two behaviors have consistently ranked as the most popular, even as new platforms, broadband and mobile devices continue to reshape the way Americans use the internet and web. Even as early as 2002, more than eight in ten online adults were using search engines, and more than nine in ten online adults were emailing.
Perhaps the most significant change over that time is that both activities have become more habitual. Today, roughly six in ten online adults engage in each of these activities on a typical day; in 2002, 49% of online adults used email each day, while just 29% used a search engine daily.
About the Survey
The search figures in this report come from a survey conducted from April 26-May 22 among 2,277 adults ages 18 and over, including surveys in English and Spanish and on landline and cell phones. The margin of error for the sample is plus or minus 2 percentage points. The email figures come from a survey conducted November 3-24, 2010 among 2,257 adults ages 18 and over, also conducted in both English and Spanish and using a dual-frame sample. The margin of error for the November survey is plus or minus 2 percentage points.