10 things you didn’t know Google could do

googletricks00Like most of the globe, I use Google every day, however, in t Cheap Pandora Jewelry new album  he last year or so I’ve noticed I use it less for standard searches and more for some of its slightly obscure, but extremely useful tools.

Here is a list of 10 tips on how to use Google as more than just your regular old search engine. I’ve tried not to simply rehash different ways you can use the “Advanced Search” feature here. Google’s advanced search function is also very useful, and getting down it’s syntax will undoubtedly save much time and effort (ie. using “” to surround phrases, minus signs ng(It Pandora Wood Beads should , boolean logic operators, etc.). However, in this list I want highlight features that while residing “in the search engine” are external to traditional “searches”:

1. Google as a dictionary

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As a writer cum blogger, I am endlessly looking up the meanings and spellings of random words. I’ve found no more efficient way of doing this, for my workflow at least, than using Google’s “define: [term]” function.

Simply clack in any word that you want a definition to and Google will return a list of definitions from various sources around the net. If you’re not 100% on the spelling, just like with regular searches, Google will do it’s best to figure out what you reall mean. It can also find definitions for many slang terms and idioms as well: see definitions for “hoser“, “the staw that broke the camel’s back” and “bizzo“.

2. Google as a weatherman

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Google's quick and easy weather forecast

Google’s quick and easy weather forecast

Alright, in our widgetized world, most of us have some weather widget kicking around our desktop, but that doesn’t make Google’s handy “weather: [location]” any less useful.

Whether (ahem) you need the weather for your own city, or a city an ocean away, Google’s weather function returns the temperature, weather, wind, humidity and four-day forecast as fast as you can say “snow day”.

3. Google as a currency converter

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As a Canadian living in China and often working in US dollars, this is a feature I use virtually every day. Simply type “[X amount] [3-letter currency code] to [3-letter currency code]” (see image above for example) and Google will give you a quick currency conversion. Sure, it may not be exact enough for your hard-core FOREX trader, but for an average joe like me, it’s more than suitable.

4. Google as a weights and measures converter

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It’s not just currencies that Google can quickly convert – virtually any weight or measurement can also be converted from metric to imperial or vice versa. Simply query Google with “XX [unit] to [unit]”, ie. “5 cm to inches”, or “6 gal to liter”.

5. Google as a calculator

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If you’re like myself and completely inept at all things mathematical, Google’s calculator function is a godsend. Sure sure, a calculator app has been a primary feature of most every OS since long before “googling” made it into our vernacular. But personally, in a tech-world where there are twenty ways to do everything, I prefer to funnel as much as I can into a few key tools. As I’m almost always online and “in browser”, using Google’s calculator just makes sense. Plus I like that I can string together relatively complex calculations visually.

6. Google as a clock

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Google's World Clock

Google’s World Clock

Presumably you know what time it is where your butt is pressing the chair, and if not, surely your OS has a clock. However, if you’re quickly looking for a way to find out what time it is in any city around the globe, Google’s time function is an excellent way to do that.

Simply google “time [city]” and you’ll be presented with the time of the most likely city you are looking for, as well as a couple secondary cities with the same name. Handy if you’re planning on making a transcontinental or transoceanic phone call.

7. Google as a stockbroker

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Google stock quotes

Google stock quotes

If you like charts that look like mountainous landscapes, you’re going to love the fact that you can quickly pull up stock quotes with Google simply by throwing in the company’s stock ticker symbol into the search engine.

You are then presented with a daily summary of the stock’s value, as well as links to more detailed information. For example, if you search for “GOOG“, Google’s ticker symbol, you’ll be presented with results represented in the image to the right, and will also be given a quick link to the Google Inc. page on Google Finance. Google Finance also has some neat search query tools, but they’re a topic for another post.

8. Google as an air traffic controller

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Google flight information

Google flight information

Fumbling around looking for flight arrival and departure information on airline or airport Web sites can sometimes be a bit cumbersome.

Fortunately Google takes the legwork out of the process by providing a simple way to get basic flight information. Simply google the airline and flight number and you’ll be given a quick summary on whether or not the flight is on time and what its ETD and ETA are. Unfortunately this seems only to work for flights originating in the US or Canada.

9. Google as a movie guide

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If you’re looking for showtimes for a certain movie in a certain city, Google does that too. Simply query Google with “movies [movie title] [city]” and you’ll be presented with a short summary of showtimes for a couple cinemas in that city (with links for more). It also, conveniently, gives you the film’s length, rating, genre and links to a trailer and reviews. Similarly, you can simply google “movie: [movie title]” (ie. “movie: x-men”) to get a listing of movies with that title along with a star rating and links to reviews. Likewise, this works with “music:” as well.

10. Google as the Yellow Pages

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Google local business listings

Google local business listings

A great and growing feature on Google is the ability to quickly find local businesses (shops, restaurants, etc.). Tied in tightly with the most excellent Google Maps, this function allows you to simply type in a business type (ie. “plumbers”, “Thai food restaurant”, “computer repair”) followed by your city to get a listing of businesses fitting your criteria.

The results give the name of the business, the phone number and Google Maps directions to the location. Incidentally, if you happen to run your own local business, be sure to add it to Google’s listings and increase the likelihood of Google-savvy customers finding you.

Well, there they are, 10 things perhaps you didn’t know Google could do. I guarantee that once you start using these Google tips, they will quickly become an integral part of how you find information. Even better, combining these Google tips with Google Chrome’s ability to search directly from its address bar amounts to even quicker usability – just CTRL-T (new tab), [Google query], ENTER and I’m there.

With all these ways to add to your Google experience, does it come as any surprise that Google also knows the answer to life, the universe, and everything? 🙂

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