Recently on the Google Search blog, Daniel Russell made an entry on creative ways to search Google. I found one of his examples very interesting. He said that, since we are now able to meet so many people from around the world online, we are sometimes presented with a name we have never heard before. Since you might not know the gender of Nikhil or Xiaomei and do not want to address them incorrectly, the solution he proposes is to search the name on Google Images and see if men or women come up. This is a quick, elegant solution that might save some embarrassment.
This post got me thinking about the different ways that I search and that many people might not realize that Google is great for more than just finding websites or pictures. There are many lesser-known search features built into Google which can make your life easier if you know how to use them. Here we list five of the most useful ones.
1) Dictionary: Two of the main functions of a dictionary are to learn how to spell words and to find definitions. Luckily for us, Google can help with both. Often, if you spell a word incorrectly in a search, you will get the familiar "Did you mean: ____________?"prompt at the top of your results. Usually it has a pretty good idea of what you meant, so an educated guess about how to spell the word will lead you to the correct spelling. Sometimes you don't even need to perform the search, as popular searches will pop up based on what you have typed so far, giving you an indication as to whether the "i before e" rule applies in this case or not.
As I mentioned before, Google can also be used to define words. By typing "define" and then a word you wish to search, the first result will be a dictionary style entry for the desired word or term. There will also be several links to dictionary websites if you want more information.
2) Calculator: Rather than digging out your calculator from one of your desk drawers, let Google do the math! Type out the formula you would like to solve ( "/" means divide and "*" means multiply) and Google will instantly return the solution. Easy as pi!
3) Unit Conversion: Sometimes we need to know something like how many cups are in two liters, and rather than taking the time to look at a chart and performing the conversion in our heads, we can be lazy and just Google it. Google makes it very easy to convert between just about any units if you are in a rush or if you do not know the conversion rates offhand. It's also great for currency conversion, as well!
4) Sports Scores: If the big game (or any game, for that matter) is going on right now but is not on TV, Google has an easy way to see what's happening. Instead of exploring the depths of mlb.com or nfl.com to find your team or wading through all of the news and ads on your team's website, just search the team's name on Google. If they are playing right now, the top of the screen will have the score and basic stats from the game. If they are not playing, it will show their current record, the score of the most recent game, and the time of the next game. You will have to go to the team's website for more detailed information, but Google is great if you only need a quick update.
5) Weather: Wondering if you'll melt when you go outside this morning? Google "weather" and the name of your city or your zip code to find the current conditions and the weather for the next few days. Links to a few weather websites are also provided for more detailed forecasts and information.
Now that you know a few of the less obvious ways to search with Google, you can spend less time scouring the internet for information. Happy Googling!