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10 hidden Google search features

10 hidden Google search features
© Viorel Dudau | Dreamstime.com

Google it. It's hard to imagine a time when that expression didn't exist, but now googling things is just another routine part of daily life.

People use it every day as a source for just about anything you can imagine, but because there's so much out there, sometimes it's a struggle to find really specific information. That's OK, because Google has a lot of options to help you narrow your search if you know how to use them.

And Google doesn't just play fetch. In addition to being a search engine, it's got a lot of tools and other conveniences baked right in. And they're so easy to use, you'll wish you'd known about them all along.

1. Google's advanced search features

If you're trying to figure out what happened to that kid from "A Christmas Story," how to tie a tie or learn more about the Royal Family's annual holiday traditions, those answers are usually just a few clicks away. But other searches may not be so easy. That's where advanced search comes in.

During your first search attempt, click or tap Settings just below and to the right of the main text field and look for Advanced Search. You'll see a lot of search fields. There, you can filter your searches in any number of ways. Does your search need to include every word you used, exclude other words or need to be an exact phrase? This will help. If you can't find something on a specific website because their search function is lacking, there's a field in Google's Advanced Search where you can search by site or domain. Nice!

Are you searching for a specific image? There's an Advanced Image Search that works like the text Advanced Search, but with options geared specifically for this type of media. You can search by image size or aspect ratio, color, search by site or even filter results by usage rights.

2. Quick and easy search methods

If you don't need all the filters that come with Advanced Search, just run a quick search using these handy tricks. For example, if you're looking for something exact, add quotation marks to the word or phrase. Do you need to exclude a word? Place a minus sign (-) in front of the word you don't want. Throw a plus sign (+) in front of any word you really want to stress as important.

Search a site directly by placing site: directly in front of the URL, then follow it with your search term. So it would look like this: site:komando.com "google" You can use the same method for to search for related content (related:).

Put @ in front of a word to search social media, or add # in front to search hashtags. Use * in place of an unknown word or as a placeholder. You can even search within a range of numbers like this: 2002..2018.

3. Making your daily life easier

Do you want a quick look at today's weather? Just Google that word and you'll get a detailed daily forecast along with outlooks for the coming days.

The same goes for tracking packages, checking area traffic, movie times and even stocks.

Bonus: Google Maps will let your report accidents, speed traps

4. Keep track of your reservations

If you have any booked flights or dinner reservations through Gmail, you can view that information through Google as well. Just type my reservations and it'll bring up any relevant information. And since it's your personal information, you'll be the only one who can see those results.

5. Math, math and more math

Don't want to hunt for the calculator app? Just type your math problem or equation into the search field to turn Google into a basic calculator.

Or let's say you're at a restaurant and need to figure out how much you need to tip your server in a hurry. Just Google tip calculator and you're all set.

Google can also convert currency and help you with Geometry problems. Just type solve and fill the rest. Google can also chart graphs!

6. The final countdown

Google can also help you keep time. Just query timer and it'll bring up a default countdown clock of five minutes, but you can easily change it to your needed duration. Click or tap the upper tab, and it becomes a stopwatch.

7. A handy translator

Traveling overseas? Google Translate can help. Just select the language you need to translate, then search for any word or phrase. Google Translate works for more than 100 languages across the globe. There's still no support for Klingon, though.

8. Run 2 searches at the same time

And if you're not quite sure what you're looking for, Google can combine searches. All you need to do is add your search terms and separate them by and or or.

9. Metronome, anyone?

This one's geared more for musicians, but if you need a little help with your music, let Google's metronome assist.

10. Some of the fun stuff

And finally, try to have a little fun using Google from time to time. Did you know there are a few games you can play just using a simple search? Search Pac-Man to see what I mean.

Other games like Atari Breakout and Zerg Rush are also available to play directly through the browser, when you just need a break.

Bonus: Google launches a better way to secure your account

You'll also find that Google has a few other tricks up its sleeve, and this one's been around a while. In the search field, query do a barrel roll and see what happens.

Google Barrel Roll

What I've covered is really just a sampling of some of the functions built into Google. But give some of these tips above a try, and you'll keep coming back.

Just like other companies or brands that became a generic term for a product (Kleenex, Band-Aid, Xerox, etc.), the same has happened with Google. And for good reason, since no other search engine even comes close to Google's market share. Besides, saying "Bing it," or "I'm Yahoo-ing it" just doesn't have the same ring to it.

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