“Google it.” We use this phrase every day. Once upon a time, the word “Google” just indicated a very long number. Today, it’s a verb.
That extends to physical products as well.
But the world’s most powerful search engine can do more than find things. Yes, the full G-Suite is a game-changer, and many of us have uploaded our entire digital existence to Drive; but most users don’t even realize how much power they have with a simple browser, thanks to Google’s many features and tricks.
While you’re at it, find out what Google knows about you through its “takeout” feature. It’s free and tells you what the search giant knows about you. (Hint: If you’ve got multiple Google accounts, you’ll need to sign out and sign in for each.)
If you never realized you could run two searches simultaneously or convert your screen to Klingon, read on. Google will grant you access to pretty much all of human knowledge, but even that is only the tip of the iceberg.
1. Google’s advanced search features
Everybody knows how to do a regular search on Google. But skilled researchers prefer the advanced search function, which helps you refine your results. You can find websites with specific words, precise phrases, numbers, languages, and regions, among other parameters. During your first search attempt, click or tap Settings just below and to the right of the main text field and look for Advanced Search. You’ll see multiple search fields. There, you can filter your searches in any number of ways.
If you can’t find something on a specific website because their search function is lacking, there’s a field in Google’s Advanced Search where you can search by site or domain. For media, you can search by image size or aspect ratio, color, search by site or even filter results by usage rights. Google has dozens of hidden gems, including these 10 hidden search features that you’ll want to try.
2. Quick and easy search methods
If you don’t need all the filters that come with Advanced Search, you can use several shortcuts for regular searches. For example, if you’re looking for something exact, add quotation marks to the word or phrase (e.g., “The Man in the High Tower”).
Do you need to exclude a word? Place a minus sign (-) in front of the word you don’t want. Throw a plus sign (+) in front of any word you want to stress as important.
You can also search a site directly by placing site: directly in front of the URL, then follow it with your search term. So it would look like this: site:komando.com “google”. You can use the same method to search for related content (related:).
Put @ in front of a word to search social media, or add # in front to search hashtags. Use * in place of an unknown word or as a placeholder. You can even search within a range of numbers like this: 2002..2018.
3. Easily stay up to date
Do you want a quick look at today’s weather? Presuming your device knows where you are, Google the word “weather” and you’ll get a detailed daily forecast along with outlooks for the coming days. You can also type “weather in Atlanta,” or any other point on the map, and you’ll receive a detailed meteorological update.
The same goes for checking area traffic, movie times and even stocks.
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4. Keep track of your reservations
If you have any booked flights or dinner reservations through Gmail, you can view that information through Google as well. Just type “my reservations” and it’ll bring up any relevant information (as long as you’re already logged into your account). And since it’s your personal information, you’ll be the only one who can see those results.
Still, you may want to review your privacy settings, to make sure you’re not sharing information that you’d prefer to keep private.
5. Math made easy
Don’t want to hunt for the calculator app? Just type your math problem or equation into the search field to turn Google into a basic calculator. You can also type “calculator” into the search field, and one will materialize.
One of the most common computations is for a tip. The pressure is often high, in a restaurant or cab, if you’re not very quick with percentages. Just Google “tip calculator” and you’re all set.
Google can also convert currency and help you with Geometry problems. Just type “solve” and fill the rest. Google can even chart graphs.
6. The final countdown
This skill is shockingly useful, especially in the kitchen or at the gym, where timed activities are common.
Just Google “timer” and it’ll bring up a default countdown clock of five minutes; you can quickly change it to your needed duration. Click or tap the upper tab, and it becomes a stopwatch.
7. Find the Origins of a Word
Many people use Google as a dictionary, typing a word and then “definition” into the search engine. But more than a simple entry, Google also serves up synonyms, antonyms, and (often) the etymology of the word — that is, the word’s origins.
So if you love to know that “night” comes from Old English “neaht,” you could play this lingual game all day.
8. A handy translator
Traveling overseas? Google Translate can help.
Just select the language you need to translate, then search for any word or phrase. Google Translate works for more than 100 languages across the globe. While you can convert the search engine to Klingon, though, there’s still no translation support.
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9. Run two searches at the same time
Most of us have only ever thought to look for one search term at a time; first, we look for “Paris,” then we look for “History of Aviation.”
If you’re not quite sure what you’re looking for, Google can combine searches. All you need to do is add your search terms and separate them by “and or”.
10. Find Favorite Authors
Type in a favorite author, or an author you recently heard about from a friend. Usually, a series of book covers will appear at the top of the screen, showing the author’s complete works or titles associated with his or her name.
Similar images will appear for established actors, directors, and musicians.
11. Metronome, anyone?
This one’s geared to musicians. If you need a little help with your music, let Google’s metronome assist. You can determine the beats per minute (BPM) that you prefer, and Google will provide perfectly spaced ticks.
12. Google Newspaper Archive
Far from the clumsy microfiche of your local library, Google has archived thousands of newspapers as scanned PDFs, many of them dating back to the American Revolution.
You’ll find rags from around the world, in a range of languages. Some collections are incomplete, but amateur historians will rejoice at this treasure trove of archived materials.
13. Play Games
Did you know there are a few games you can play just using a simple search? Search Pac-Man, and the iconic arcade game will fire up, free for anyone to use.
Other games, like Atari Breakout and Zerg Rush, are also available to play directly through the browser, whenever you need a quick thrill.
14. See Retro Google
As you may know, Google was founded (and went live) in the year 1998. To celebrate its origins, developers can show you precisely what the primitive search engine once looked like; type “Google in 1998” and remember those halcyon data of the early internet.
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15. Find a Fun Easter Eggs
What happens when you type “do a barrel roll” into Google? The entire screen starts swirling around, like an airplane doing aerobatic tricks.
The search engine has many goofy “Easter Eggs,” which makes Google respond in hilarious and unexpected ways when you type the magic words.
Here are a few other Google Easter Eggs. Have fun!
What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call my national radio show and click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet or computer.