I remember life without Google. Back then I wasn’t aware that I was missing anything, but now I can’t imagine my life without it: instantly available data on almost any topic. But did you know there are additional features and shortcuts that can be entered directly into the Google search window that make it even more of an essential desktop tool? Unit conversions, currency converters, definitions, and more: here are a few that I use almost every day.
All of these special Google features utilize the same basic Google search window that you use for any informational search. The trick in each case is that Google is programmed to recognize certain words and phrases so that when they are entered in a specific way, Google knows not just to search for those keywords, but to do something special with them. All you have to do is enter them as described – no fancy installations, configurations, etc. are required.
Unit Conversion. As an American living in Germany, I’m still getting used to a lot of new unit measurements, especially as regards weather temperatures and cooking. While the metric system in itself is completely logical, I still have no “gut-feeling” for whether or not 20 degrees C means I need to wear a sweater. So I use this little Google tool more than any other.
Entering a search using the format “Number Original_Units in New_Units” automatically does the conversion:
Lazy? Entering “200 degrees C in F” works too!
Use the same trick for those pesky cooking conversions:
Currency Conversion. Another useful expat tool, find out what those Euros are worth today…
Google provides a variety of these handy shortcuts, from the practical to the quirky: calculator functions, weather, earthquakes, sporting event scores, US area codes, and more. You can find the full details on the Google site at http://www.google.com/intl/en/help/features.html. I recommend you read it at least once all the way through — I guarantee you’ll find something you’ll use more like a desktop shortcut tool than a search.
Bonus Fun – Easter Eggs: Yep, the Google developers are geeks. If you’re into that sort of thing, there are many undocumented Easter Eggs to be found in the Google search shortcuts. For example, have a look at this unit conversion search:
Obscure units like smoot = geek version of knee-slapper 🙂