We all use Google on a daily basis, but we could stand to learn to use it a little better. Here are a few tricks to help you get the most out of it. Hopefully, you'll get to spend a little more time looking at the results you need and a little less wondering what's the right way to find what you're looking for.
I've only included useful tricks, leaving the cute and fun but useless ones as well as games for another time... I've also left out stuff from Search Tools and Advanced Search menus that you can access easily just by clicking on the right buttons in Google.
Use “quotation marks” to search for an exact phrase
You probably already know this one. We just had to get rid of it first. Still, this might be the most important of Google tricks. It will yield only pages containing words in the exact same order as what you're searching for. (For example: “Are you sad because you're on your own”)
Within quotes, put an asterisk in place of unknown or variable words
Sometimes, you're trying to remember a statement or some lyrics to a song you've heard and you're not sure of a word right in the middle of it. This will get you results with all found variations of the quoted phrase. (“Are you * because you're on your own”)
Eliminate results with certain words by using the minus sign (-)
Because words can have different meanings or because certain phrases are way too familiar in a certain context, sometimes you get many results that have nothing to do with what you're looking. That's when you want to eliminate a whole bunch of results. (“Are you sad because you're on your own” -Beatles)
Do a search within a website (site:)
This command will limit your search to the specified site. Pretty useful when you know which site has the information you need, but it seems to be buried too deep. (Beatles site:Rollingstone.com) You can combine this command with the one above to make sure the results won't include those from a specific site. (Beatles -site:RollingStone.com)
Make sure a specific search word is in the title (intitle:)
You can make sure to get only results with a certain word included in the title. (“Are you sad because you're on your own” intitle:lyrics)
Looking for a specific file type? (filetype:)
Use this command if you only want files with a certain extension. (“Are you sad because you're on your own” filetype:pdf)
Use Google as a dictionary
Enter “define (word)”. You'll get the different meanings of any given word and Google will tell you how to pronounce it. Also try “etymology”.
Use “vs.” to compare food's nutritional facts
Type in two types of food to get side-by-side comparisons. (veal vs. beef)
Search with an image instead of a word
Use the camera button on Google Images and search for a picture to find similar images from around the web. Pretty useful to learn from where a particular image comes from.
Use the microphone instead of typing words
Just click on the microphone and say the words you want to search for. Because typing is so hard! (...or for any reason.)
Flip a coin or roll a dice
Type “heads or tails” and Google will flip a coin for you. You can also ask it to “roll a dice”.
Use Google as a timer or a stopwatch
Simply type in “set timer to XX minutes XX seconds” and a countdown will start immediately. Pretty useful when you're in the kitchen.
Get the weather
Typing in the name of a city and the word “weather” will give you the current weather. Type “forecast” instead and you'll get a forecast for the day.
Calculate distance and travel time
Just enter “distance (city 1) (city 2)”.
Get a map of a location
Find a location simply by entering the zip or postal code.
Find points of interest
Enter “(city) attractions” or “(city) events”.
Enter “restaurants near me” to get a list.
Use Google as a restaurant calculator
Enter “tip calculator” and you'll get a small app that will tell how much to give the waiter, including tip. You can also split the bill between your friends and you.
Or just use it as a regular calculator
Enter “calculator”. And voilà!
Convert international timings
Enter “12:48 EST to GMT”, for example. You'll to know the location codes.
Or get the time for any country
Search for “time (country)”. Google will tell you if there more than one time zone.
Check your flight status
Type “united airlines flight 98”, for example, to know where is your in-laws' plane and when it will arrive. Or type “flight (location 1) to (location 2)” to get local flight details.
Know the titles and air dates of all your favorite TV shows' episodes
Enter “Game of Thrones episodes”, for example.
Same with movies' release dates
Enter “Back to the Future release date”, for example.
Plus movie times
Enter “movies for (city)”.
And movies and TV shows' casts
Enter “Back to the Future cast”, for example. And you'll get the name and picture of every important actor.
Get a director or an actor's films
Type “movies (name of director or actor)”.
Same with an author's books
Type “books (name of director or actor)”.
Get sport scores and schedules
Type in the city and the name of your favorite team. (Miami Heat)
Convert measurements, temperatures, currencies or data
Type in “50 kilos to pounds”, for example, or “1 yard to meters”, or “24 Celsius to Fahrenheit”, or “50 US$ to euros”.
Convert a number into words
Writing a number in words can be confusing. Enter “(number) to words” to know how to write that number.
Find out on which day and date will happen any holiday
Enter “(name of holiday) (year)”.
Calculate other days and dates
Enter “what day is it in (any number) days”.
Get official statistics
Enter words like “population” or “GPD” and the name of a country, state or city.
Get a love quote
Click on the microphone and say “Give me a love quote” and you'll get one read to you. Typing it in will you you the same result but it's not as much fun...
Search old newspapers
Go to news.google.com/newspapers to look up newspapers more than a hundred years old from all around the world.
Find information on companies
Type in “(company name) (customer service)”, “(company name) (location)” or “(company name) (founder)”.
Type in “stock:(company code)”.
View a website in Google's cache
You can access Google's cached version of a site that, say, isn’t responding by clicking on the little green rectangle button beside each result's URL after a search.
Turn your phone into a level
Enter “bubble level”.
Get a random fact
Just enter “fun facts”.
Play animal sounds for your child
Type in “animal sounds” and get icons that you can click to listen to.
Find who links to any site
Type “link:(site's URL)”.
That's it for now. Don't hesitate to mention any trick I might have missed in the comments section below.
Max Stinson (author) on May 30, 2016:
viewfinders from India on May 30, 2016:
Good one Max....helpful