It may have once been the case that the world of Internet search engines was played out by several major competitors. Do you remember Lycos? How about Ask Jeeves? Today, as much as Yahoo, Bing and Dogpile might try to convince you otherwise, Google is the obvious dominating force in this space and Google Search is the go-to resource for many an Internet inquiry.
In addition to all of those other incredibly useful web services, like Google Keep and Google Drive, Google Search actually offers many other features and functions beyond the “simple” web search. Here are ten of the best.
Yes, it might be true that if you are accessing Google from your computer, smartphone or tablet that you likely also have a calculator app in there somewhere. However, these apps typically don’t let you write out equations like how the calculator built into Google Search allows. It can be used for simple arithmetic, as well as more advanced calculations involving exponents, logorithmic functions and calculus.
Whether you’re having trouble spelling an awkward word or you want to look up its meaning, Google is there to help too. In some instances, you can simply type in the word and the definition will come up. If it doesn’t, you simply preface your word with define and Google will handle the rest. It’ll give you the pronunciation, the part of the speech, all the meanings and, if you click to expand the entry, you’ll also get the word origin and more!
There are several travel comparison shopping sites that you can use, like Expedia or Travelocity. There’s also a flight finder integrated into Google. Just enter flights from (origin airport code or city name) to (destination airport code or city name) and Google wil bring up the airlines that cover that route and the current starting price for the dates you define.
We live in an international economy, but with the exception of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, there isn’t really a universal currency that we all use. If you find yourself reading articles from other countries or shopping from international online stores, you’ll want to have a convenient way to handle foreign exchange inquiries. Simply enter your starting amount and currency, followed by the target currency (i.e., 200 usd to eur) and Google will give you the equivalent amount based on the up-to-the-minute mid-market exchange rate.
Google Local Search
Looking for a great sushi restaurant in your area? Maybe you have a hankering for some hamburgers. The easiest way to take advantage of Google’s local search feature is to enter what you want, followed by your zip code. It can also work with a city name. A handy map will also pop up on the site where you can then follow up by reading reviews and getting contact information.
This doesn’t work with every website and it seems to be restricted to only the larger, more popular ones. When it does work, it’s pretty nifty. Type in the domain of the site you’d like to search and a secondary search bar will emerge where you can look for content only on that site. If this feature doesn’t work for where you want to use it, you can take advantage of a similar feature by formatting your inquiry as site:example.com search term.
If you’re a day trader, this probably isn’t good enough for you. For the rest of us average folks, Google search offers a quick and easy way to look up the current trading price for any just about any given stock simply by entering its ticker symbol. This will give you information about recent changes, as well as the high and low over the defined period, plus a handy chart to boot.
The default is that you’d go to the UPS website to track your UPS package, the Fedex website to track your Fedex package and so on. If you copy and paste your tracking number into the Google search bar, it’ll take you right to where you need to go on those respective sites to see where your Amazon order is.
Just as Google search can be used to perform complex calculations and to convert between different currencies, it can also be used to convert between all sorts of different units. You can do weight, height, distance, temperature… you name it. Just format your search like 15 miles to kilometers.
For quick, at a glance weather information, enter the name of the city, followed by the word weather. This provides current conditions with temperature, precipitation, wind and humidity, as well as a short-term forecast for the week ahead.
Image credit: Anthony Ryan / Flickr