Posted 2nd August 2013 | By ExtraMile

Google is a great search engine (dare I say the best?) but it has lots of little features and tricks that you might not be aware of.

Other then the productivity killing Google Doodle games their developers have also coded in lots of handy little tools that can save time and effort.

Google as a calculator

More commonly known than most of the tricks here this is perhaps one of the most useful. By typing in a sum like ‘2+2’ Google will provide you with the result but also an onscreen calculator that can be used for further questions. Use * for multiplication e.g. 2*2=4 and / for division e.g. 2/2=1. You can do more complex equations like (2+2)*2=8. To get numbers to the power of use ^ e.g. 2^2=4. There are also options to find sine, cosine and tangent along with the ability to use pi and other scientific functionality.

Google as a timer/alarm

You can use Google as an alert when a time period is up. If you have a 15 minute presentation you want to time just type timer 15 minutes. This will automatically start a countdown for 15 minutes, with an audible alert in most browsers. You can also use it as an alarm for a particular time, to do this type timer 11am (or you can use 24hr clock) and this will count down to that time.

Google as a currency converter

Another useful tool (saves having to search for a currency conversion site) as long as you know the currency code – type in 1 GBP in USD and it will give you up to date results for the value of £1 in dollars (provided by Citibank). The search result also gives a graph of the current value over the last 5 years and also provides handy dropdowns to change currency.

Google as a Time Zone and sunrise/sunset clock

Type into Google ‘Time Moscow’ and it will tell you the current time in Moscow. It works for entire countries too, so type in ‘Time Russia’ and Google informs you of the time across the multiple time zones in Russia. By typing in ‘sunrise Manchester’ or ‘Sunset Manchester’ you can get the current sunrise or sunset times in Manchester – replace the city with a country and you will get the times for its capital city.

Google as a cinema schedule

Type in a film name and the town/city you want to see it in and Google will give you a list of all the cinemas and all the times that film is showing in that location. If you type in a town that the film is not being shown Google will show you the nearest cinemas and times that are showing it. Don’t know the film you want to see, type in ‘Films Birmingham’ and Google shows you a list of all films showing in Birmingham – make sure you’re using the domain ending otherwise you’ll see a list of films in Birmingham, Alabama.

Google as a sports reporter

Type in the name of a team or individual and the sport of a live event and Google will present a scorecard for you e.g. ‘England Cricket’ produces the score for the 3rd Ashes test, along with a summary of the last two overs, and the batsmen’s individual scores.

Google as a weather forecaster

Type in ‘Newcastle weather’ and Google provides an at a glance weather report for the current conditions but also gives an 8 day forecast along with a temperature, precipitation and wind speed graph for the next 24 hours.

Google as a translator

You’ve probably used Google Translate in the past but Google search can offer a quicker way to translate simple sentences. Type in ‘dog in French’ and Google will present you with ‘Chien’. This also works for simple sentences e.g. ‘Where is my dog in French’ returns ‘Où est mon chien’

Google as a flight planner

Type the airline name and the flight number and Google will present you with the departure and arrival times for the current or next flight. Useful to track if there have been delays on a flight. If you’re pricing up your next holiday Google can also be helpful there, type in ‘flights from London to Toronto’ and it will show you the number of non-stop flights, duration and give you a guideline cost (this only works for certain routes). You can also click on the result to see a flight schedule.

Google as an image searcher

I know you’re thinking ‘Duh, Google image search’ but did you know you can actually use images to search. Click on the Images menu item in the black bar on the Google home page. Here you’ll get the Google images search box, click on the camera to the right of the search box and it will allow you to upload an image or link to an image URL. Google will then search the web for the same image elsewhere and will also give you ‘visually similar’ images. This can be really useful if someone has used an image you want to use, you can either find the exact image or a variant of it that you may be able to use yourself.

Written by Ean Faragher 

At ExtraMile we try to take an hour out each week to look around us at what others do and to gain inspiration and to admire people's creativity. Each post in this series is one staff member's take on the world of web, design and things online. We hope you enjoy it.



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