How to Use Google Like a Pro

Google Google is great. We all know that. But do you know how great it is? (Really, really great.) Like I said a couple weeks ago, if you’re only using Google as a traditional search engine, you haven’t begun to scratch the surface. Google can do so many things that it even has an official site dedicated to tips and tricks. Here are some of my favorite things Google can do that you might not have known about.

First, a disclaimer: the more Google services you use, the better your Google experience will be. If you’re using Gmail, have an Android phone and you’re active on Google+, Google will be your best friend. (I use Gmail, but have an iPhone and a really inactive Google+ account; even still, I’ve found the following tips extremely useful.)

Where’s My Stuff?

If you use Gmail, Google can sift through it to provide relevant information. If you Google, “where’s my package,” Google will look through your Gmail for online orders you’ve made, gather together tracking numbers and show you exactly where all your packages are. It’s a little creepy, but very cool. Plus, I figure Google already knows more about me than I know about myself, so it’s an evil I no longer care about. You can also track upcoming flights, too. Googling “flight status” (or, really, any variation of that) will show trip itineraries, departure and landing times, and more, all plucked from your Gmail.

Google is Every Site

It’s amazing how many sites you DON’T have to go to because Google is a better version of that site. If you’re looking for weather, movie times, sports scores… a simple Google search will give you your answer. For example, a “march madness” search will bring up current games and their scores, past games and games happening soon … all above the first search result. Typing what you’re looking for directly into your search bar is much quicker than navigating to another site and searching for that same info. Why do two steps when you only need to do one?

Dictionary, Calculator and Translator

This is sort of similar to the previous tip. Whether you need a definition, help with a math problem or a quick translation, Google can take care of it without re-directing you to another site. Searching for, say, “define synchronicity” (thanks, Sting) will give you the definition right in your search. You can do similar searches for basic math functions, conversion rates, currency exchanges and more. You can also search phrases like “how do you say synchronicity in Spanish” to get answers quickly, too (sincronicidad!).

Searching a Specific Site

I think I’m developing bad short-term memory. Or maybe I’m just doing a million things and don’t remember where I saw a particular news story. Either way, Google’s got my back. Google lets you search a particular site for a news story or topic; all you’ve got to make a search like “google glass site:shellypalmer.com.” This will narrow your search to any information we’ve posted here about Google Glass. I like this because it’s quicker to do it this way than by going to a site itself – links you’ve visited will be highlighted in purple on the search. Also, if you know you saw a Google Glass story on a particular tech site, but don’t know which, it’s really easy to replace “shellypalmer” with “engadget” or “cnet” and see if that’s where you found it.

Search by Image

One of my favorite ‘secret’ Google tips is search by image. Head to Google Images and click the camera in the search box. You can then upload a picture from your hard drive or paste a photo URL to search for a particular image. The search will find pages where that image is located, and you can even view different sizes of that picture or other images similar to it. I save a bunch of pictures to my computer, and sometimes I forget what an image is from or why I saved it. Other times, a friend will post a picture to Facebook, and it’s a screenshot of a movie I recognize but can’t place. Search by image jogs my memory and helps me remember where it’s from!