The Agency Record Blog

6 Little Known Things You Can Do With Google

Like many of you, I have the Google search bar installed in Firefox, and I use it a LOT during the course of a day. And like many of you, I have come to take Google for granted as an integral part of my existence, the Keeper and Dispenser of all Relevant and Timely Information.  But did you know Google has a few specific types of common searches available right from the query line?  A few of them are particularly useful for freelancers. Check these out, and then head over for a more comprehensive overview from – wait for it – Google (who else?).

  • Math – Just enter your formula (ex. 120*16) hit enter and get the magic result. Note to students: do not try entering things like “A train leaving Boston at 5:30am and  another in New York leaving at 6:59 pass each other outside of Piscataway at 7:38. How many words per minute was each train conductor texting on average during the trip?”
  • Definitions – Need to check the definition of a word before you embarrass yourself in a blog post? Just type define: the word or phrase. Google spits out a full page of definition results immediately. (ex. define: video production)
  • Weather – You’re about to head out to make that big proposal, and you want to know if you really need to take along a heavy rain coat, because your girlfriend kindly told you last week how dorky you looked in it, and you’d rather not make that kind of impression on the company who stands to make your year, if things go well. Google to the rescue. Just type weather proceeded by the location you want to inquire about, and you’ve got a pretty good chance of getting the answer on the first line, complete with pretty little graphic aids. (ex: weather Nashville) Note: despite Google’s legendary algorithms, it is no better at making accurate weather predictions than that guy on channel 5. Remember, Google only shows you what it thinks you WANT to see…
  • Shipment tracking – I just tried this one out by accident, only to find out it’s a real feature! Half-slain by sleep deprivation, but still eager to find out where TigerDirect was in the process of getting me some new toy I’d ordered, I copied and pasted a “onezie” (all UPS ground tracking numbers start with a 1Z) into the google search bar. Two clicks later, I was looking at my package online!  Try it!
  • Area Code Lookup – Couldn’t be simpler. Just type the 3-digit area code into the search bar, and you’ll immediately know what part of the country it belongs to. Now you can know where that mysterious number is calling you from before you even send it to voicemail!
  • Time – I frequently need to talk to people overseas (India, Sweden, France, Spain, Uzbekistan, to name a few) and trying to remember the time differences at any given point in the year is an embarrassing nightmare. Good client relations are not served well by accidental 3am calls. No problem, just enter time followed by the location in question, and you’ll have your answer, including the date, in case the time zone is over the International date line. (ex. time sweden)

So there’s six quick ones, and I have not even touched on the search modifiers like site: or link:, which are incredibly useful as well.  Let me know what other ones you regularly use!

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2 Responses to “6 Little Known Things You Can Do With Google”

  1. A cool option I’ve discovered in the Google tools is the “language translation” feature. You just select a phrase or website that’s in a foreign language and paste it into the Google text box. Select the language you’d like to translate it into. Press the “Translate” button. And *Voila!*, you have a translated (more or less) version. It’s not entirely accurate, but close enough to give you an idea of what you are reading.

    I can pick up new vocabulary words quickly by this method–and also see how they are used in a sentence. With this tool, I can communicate with folks from around the world. What an awesome tool!

    Comment by Dave aka EditorDave on February 9, 2009 at 3:31 am

  2. Another good one is the conversion function.

    Type “first measurement in second measurement” (example: £2 in euros) and you will immediately see the converted value. It works with money, measurement and just about everything you can think of.

    Really useful. :)

    Comment by Tom Beasley on February 9, 2009 at 11:47 am

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