Ten Cool Things You Didn't Know You Could Do With Google

Ten Cool Things You Didn't Know You Could Do With Google

Why click thrice when once will suffice? Of late, this seems to be Google's mantra for search results. You might have noticed that one no longer needs to click on articles to gather information. Google's Knowledge Graph puts a tonne of information next to search results in an attempt to become the world's most powerful database of knowledge.

Here are some of the best ways to use this massive trove of information to speed up searches and tasks:

1. Your Personal information

Google knows everything about you - as long as you're signed in to your Google account. If you have a contact in your smartphone with your name and email address, Google can show you your contact details via search results. If you use Google contacts, you can search for any contact with these keywords: "what is ...'s number". Just fill the blank with the name of the contact. Remember that this result will only be visible to you as long as you're signed in to your Google account.

There's more Google can tell you about yourself though - search for "what is my IP address" or "where am I" and it will answer in a box under the search bar.


2. Translation and dictionary

Found someone online who doesn't speak your language? Fear not, just search for "translate", followed whatever the person said. We tried this with phrases in European and Indian languages and found the translations to be useful when working with short phrases, but not always accurate when we had long sentences.

You can add modifiers, like "translate from", or "translate to", to set the operative languages - for example, "translate reis from german to hindi".

Google can also help you with the meanings of words, or finding synonyms and more. For best results, put define (or synonyms, or antonyms) before the word you want to look up.

You can also use Google to get on-the-spot meanings of words. Simply add the prefix define - e.g. "define Schadenfreude".


3. Time, weather, and even a timer

Time and weather are another cool function of Google search. Just search for "Time in New York" or any other city and country. The same thing works for the keyword "weather".

You can also use Google as a timer. Just search for "timer" and Google will show you one. By default it is set to 5 minutes, which you can change by clicking on the time. It supports full-screen mode and rings when the time is up.


4. Flight information

All you need to know is the flight number of any aircraft, and Google Knowledge Graph can show you arrival and departure times and the flight's destinations in a neat graphic that shows the departure time, arrival time, and even the terminal and gate.

We found this very useful when planning trips, but we really wish Google could make a similar feature for trains.


5. Converting units and currencies

Not sure how many teaspoons to use when the recipe mentions tablespoons? Just Google for "2.5 tablespoons to teaspoons," to get your answer. The same format can be used for other like "feet to cms" too. You can also search for "USD to INR" or "$30,000 to INR" to get the current exchange rate and trends over the past few years.

Google's units conversion tool supports temperature, fuel consumption (MPG to km/litre, etc), length, mass, speed, volume, area, time and even digital storage (from Gb to MB, for example).


6. Location and directions

Google search is very good at finding places and telling you how to get there. Whether you know the entire address or just a pin code, a quick search will show a map marking the area. For example, searching for "110001" will show which areas fall under the pin code.

Google has a fairly large database of addresses of public buildings and commercial complexes. Queries such as "where is India Gate" or "where is the nearest hospital" will either show you the answer in a big box above the search results or show a map preview with the locations marked.

And in case you're about to hit the road, searching for "directions to" (say "directions to Khan Market") your destination will show you a map preview with how much time it will take to get there in current traffic conditions.


7. General Knowledge

Not surprisingly, Google is really good at answering general knowledge questions. Some queries will only land you the answer, while some other queries will show you answers to related questions as well. For instance, "when was Mahatma Gandhi born" also shows the birth dates of Jawaharlal Nehru, Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela.

It can answer questions such as "who is the prime minister of Japan" and "who is the richest man in the world".


8. Astronomy guide

What's bigger, Mars or Venus? How about the relative difference between the Moon and the Earth? Search for "Mars vs Jupiter" to get the comparison, while searching for "Moon to Earth", or "Earth to Aplha Centauri" will show you the distance between the two. To find how far the others are from Earth, try searching for "how far is ... from Earth". Fill in the blank with the celestial body (or man-made satellites such as Voyager I) to find the distance.


9. Popular culture including show timings

Google Knowledge Graph can also give you information about films, television shows, books and comics - when you search for an actor, book or film, this carousel shows up with information on related people or works. A search for "best graphic novels" or "best films of 2014" will show you what other people are searching for.

Google can also name the films currently in movie halls. It can also list show timings. Search for "'movie name' show timings" or simply "films" for this.


10. Sports and stock information

Google can be used to track sporting events and even schedules. A search with the name of the team, such as "India cricket team" or "Arsenal FC" shows you the result from the previous match, live score (if a game is on) and when the next match is scheduled. Google also shows some other information about the team and its achievements, pulled from Wikipedia.


If you search for a company's name followed by the word stock, you will see the results right away, and while the default view shows you the day's valuation, you can set this to 5 days, a month up to the time the company was first listed - try entering "Wipro stock" or "Google stock" to see.


With these ten tips, you should be able to save time with Google. In case you come across some handy uses for Google that we haven't listed, tell us via the comments.


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Further reading: Google, Google Search, Knowledge Graph
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