Leave a comment

7 useful Google features you're not using

7 useful Google features you're not using
© Viorel Dudau | Dreamstime.com

Google says that it handles over 3 billion searches per day, worldwide. That's a lot! And it's statistics like these that show just how much we use this powerful search engine.

Whether it's for actual research or for casual web browsing, Google has become our go-to resource. It's no longer just a website or even just a company. The term "Google" has become a verb. Just think about it: When was the last time you told someone to Google something?

But even though we all use Google on a daily basis, most people don't realize there's a lot more you can do with it than just search. In fact, you're probably overlooking some of Google's most useful features. Here are seven you might not know about.

1. Google Flight Search

We all know about sites like Expedia and Kayak that help you find great deals on flights. But, you actually don't need them. Google can do this too. You just need to use Google Flight Search.

Google Flight Search gives you quick access to the information from other sites in one place. It shares many of the same features as the other sites - such as airline comparisons, rate monitoring, etc. - but it also has handy tools that help you choose the best time to travel.

If you're flexible with your departure dates, and even your destination, Google Flight Search can help you find the best deals out there.

Google flights

One of the most helpful tools is the map displayed on the home page, which shows you pricing information at a glance for destinations you might be interested in visiting. You can click on this map to see even more options and spot even more deals.

Google flights 3

When you click on the red dot for the destination you're interested in, a window pops up on the left-hand side of the screen with more information. This window compares various flight options at a glance and even pulls up hotel deals in the area.

Booking from there is easy. Just click on the flight you want, and follow the prompts to purchase your ticket.

Worried you might miss a better deal if you'd only had a different departure date? With Google Flight Search you don't need to worry about that at all. In fact, when you're choosing your travel dates, the ticket prices are listed right on the calendar.

Google flights 2

There are also tools you can use to check price trends, so you can easily determine if it's cheaper to visit your destination during a different time of the year.

Bonus tip: Having a great online tool isn't the only thing you need to get a great price on tickets. Click here for a secret formula that shows if you're paying too much for airfare.

2. Build stuff with Legos

Not everything you do on Google has to be completely practical. Sometimes you just need a break, and puzzles and building blocks are a great way to challenge your mind while recharging your battery.

If you think back to your childhood, you probably remember playing with Legos. That's why you'll love the Lego Builder browser extension.

This free online Lego builder works with Chrome and Firefox and allows you to build models out of Legos, just like you did as a kid. The models you build are then saved to the cloud, where you can share them and see models that others have created.

Watch this video to see how it works:

3. Keep track of time

If you have access to Google, there's really no need to wear a watch again. That's because Google has some really cool features that make keeping time simple.

What time is it?

Wondering what time it is? Just type, "What time is it," into Google for an instant answer. You can even ask what time it is in different places around the world, which means you'll never accidentally call someone at midnight who lives in a different time zone.

Military time made easy

What is military time

If you're part of the military, then military time is easy to follow - you use it so much that it becomes second nature. But most of us aren't trained to think that way.

So, the next time you're asked to arrive somewhere at 22:00, just type the question into Google for a quick conversion chart.

Built-in timers

Set a timer

Not only can Google tell you what time it is, it can also help you stay on schedule. Just type, "Set a timer for [x] minutes," and Google will pop up a timer and stopwatch.

How long does it take

Another thing you can do is type the phrase, "How long does it take to get to [destination]," so you can plan out the total duration of your next road trip.

4. Google translations

Whether you're a frequent traveler or are just trying to learn a new language, Google can help you overcome language barriers. The Google Translate function is integrated right into the regular Google search, so you don't even have to visit another page.

Google translate 2

To translate with Google, just type "translate" in the search bar. This will bring up two boxes in your search results. The box on the left is for the language you'd like to translate from, and the box on the right will show the results of the language you'd like to translate to.

There are tabs above each box that let you choose from a list of more than 100 languages, including common languages like Italian, French, Russian and Spanish, and even lesser-known languages, like Yiddish.

My son, Ian, is learning Mandarin and uses Google Translate on his iPad to write out the characters and listen as the words are repeated back. And I love using the Google Translate app whenever I travel to countries like France. One of the app's most useful features is its ability to scan menus and translate them.

Click here to learn more about the Google Translate mobile app.

5. Count calories

Keeping a food diary is annoying, but it's also necessary if you're trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy diet. And Google makes it easy to keep track of the calories you're eating.

If you're wondering how many calories are in a particular meal, just type, "How many calories does [food item] have," and Google will tell you the answer. It even includes details such as portion sizes and additional ingredients that are factored into the overall calorie count.

How many calories

 

6. Google Sky

If you thought Google Earth was great, then this is going to blow your mind. You can step off of our planet and into the universe with Google Sky.

Instead of searching locations on this planet, this feature lets you look at outer space using images from different telescopes, probes and satellites. It works similarly to Google Earth. You can search for items in the search bar at the top and Google Sky will show you the most recent images of the stars, planets and galaxies you are looking for.

The tool also includes showcases at the bottom of the page to direct you to popular and interesting parts of the map, like images from the Hubble Telescope and shots of our own Solar System.

In addition to the basic map, you can look at infrared and microwave images of space. You can also look at historic maps of the stars made by Giovanni Maria Cassini in 1792! Then, you're able to overlay these different images on top of one another to see how they compare.

7. Google like a boss

If you're looking for something in a hurry, you want to find the fastest (and most accurate) answer possible. You don't have time to sift through pages and pages of search results. To get better results, here are a few secrets.

Use quotation marks

One of the easiest tricks is to place your search terms between quotation marks. This tells Google to search for that phrase exactly, instead of searching for those keywords anywhere in an article.

Google search flash tip

Search other sites directly from Google

If you're looking for something on a particular website, you can begin that search right on the Google home page. Type the website name in the address bar, followed by a colon, then hit space, then type your search term.

Example: komando.com: buying advice

Search Google

 

This will limit Google's search to find content on the specific website you've mentioned that fits the search terms.

Use two periods to search for a date range

If you're looking for information in a certain date range, you can find faster results by including two periods between the dates themselves.

Example: top rock bands 1950 .. 1960

rock bands

Using these tricks will help you pinpoint the information you need without wasting your time on content that barely meets the criteria of your search. Click here if you'd like even more tricks to get faster answers on Google.

More tips you can't miss:

You'll definitely want to use Google's new location sharing

9 best photo apps for Android

How to transfer albums to your personal computer

Next Story
3 ways to make money with your phone or tablet
Previous Tips

3 ways to make money with your phone or tablet

Get cooking with these piping-hot YouTube channels
Next Tips

Get cooking with these piping-hot YouTube channels

View Comments ()