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Favorite Hidden Google Features?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the have-fun-with-it dept.

It's funny.  Laugh. 267

fredtheshingle asks: "Google now seems to allow you the option to track your FedEx and UPS shipments! Search using the tracking number for either carrier and a page that offers to track the package appears. Simply follow that link and the carrier's current status report is displayed. Nice! So what's your favorite hidden Google feature?"

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267 comments

Calculator and spell checker (1)

Bombcar (16057) | more than 10 years ago | (#8347781)

I love those, though they're not really hidden. It always seems faster to open a new tab and run the calculation......

Re:Calculator and spell checker (5, Interesting)

Bombcar (16057) | more than 10 years ago | (#8347793)

Forgot to give an example:

Google Calculation [google.com]

And the ever popular Question [google.com]

Re:Calculator and spell checker (3, Funny)

kernelistic (160323) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348058)

Did you know that 129263.376 rods per cubic yards is 2 miles per gallon? :-)

Re:Calculator and spell checker (1)

dgmartin98 (576409) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348100)

lol @ And the ever popular Question

Someone mod this guy up as funny! That's hilarious!

If you don't know what he's talking about, you need to catch up the classics. [bbc.co.uk]

Dave

Re:Calculator and spell checker (1)

TykeClone (668449) | more than 10 years ago | (#8349166)

In doing some taxes the other day, I had a customer who sold a small strip of land back to the county to allow for a wider road.

To get the correct valuations and such, I talked to the county recorder and they had the amount of land sold (down to the nearest hundredth of a foot), but I had to figure out the number of acres.

I used google with a search of something like "square feet to acre" and got the conversion, just like that - pretty nice!

Re:Calculator and spell checker (5, Funny)

sbennett (448295) | more than 10 years ago | (#8349525)

And the ever popular Question

How about this one [google.com]?

Re:Calculator and spell checker (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8349840)

you sir, are a hilarious jacktard. if i had mod points, i'd give you +1 funny even though it doesn't count.

Re:Calculator and spell checker (5, Informative)

iota (527) | more than 10 years ago | (#8347804)

A list of some of the google features available:
http://www.google.com/help/features.ht ml

My favorite Google Feature (4, Funny)

Neop2Lemus (683727) | more than 10 years ago | (#8347789)

Great French Military Victories & click I'm feeling Lucky.

But then, given the /. debates here, I'm sure you all know that already.

Re:My favorite Google Feature (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8348148)

"But then, given the /. debates here, I'm sure you all know that already."

The /. debates on Fark are funnier, if less coherent...

Re:My favorite Google Feature (2, Informative)

damiam (409504) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348800)

That's not a Google feature. It's just some guy who googlebombed this [albinoblacksheep.com] page. Google had nothing to do with it.

The Standards (5, Funny)

amcnabb (682951) | more than 10 years ago | (#8347792)

I'm not sure if I know of any that aren't pretty much common knowledge. Anyway, it's fun to search for "answer to life the universe and everything" [google.com]. I also like the calculator function: just enter "2 + 2". The ability to search for "definition any-word-you-want" is nice, too.

But of course, the best hidden feature is the ability to search for "litigious b******s" and to have the most relevant link appear first. In fact, you can leave off the word "litigious" and it still works, now that so many people have put links with that phrase on their web pages.

Re:The Standards (4, Interesting)

daviddennis (10926) | more than 10 years ago | (#8349591)

I was amused by the fact that Calculator answered that query, so I did a little experimentation.

Turns out that it's a numeric variable built into Calculator! Search for:

10 * answer to life the universe and everything + 5

and you'll get back:

(10 * answer to life the universe and everything) + 5 = 425

The Ghost of Douglas Adams would smile at that one. Or he'd be sick of hearing about 42 and slam the door in their face. Who knows which? I guess we'll never know :-(.

It sure brightened up my morning, on a chill rainy day, and that must count for something.

D

Fave "hidden" feature (5, Funny)

redfiveneo (692968) | more than 10 years ago | (#8347806)

Let's just say Google images. ...with SafeSearch off. ;)

Re:Fave "hidden" feature (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 10 years ago | (#8347849)

Yeah, but that means letting them use cookies. No thanks

Re:Fave "hidden" feature (5, Informative)

orthogonal (588627) | more than 10 years ago | (#8347912)

Yeah, but that means letting them use cookies. No thanks

I, too, prefer not to let Google set cookies. So far Google has been -- so far as I know -- a good respecter of privacy, but their insistence on recording all searches, along with the requesting IP address, gives me serious pause.

It's not that Google is evil, but that reposing that much information in any hands is a temptation to evil -- either on Google's part, or on the part of whomever ends up controlling it when and if Google goes public, or on the part of whatever government can issue subpoenas, or whatever lawyer can get subpoenas issued.

I'd feel much more comfortable if Google would purge its records of searches, or at least remove the IP addresses, but I suppose they have their reasons. I'll let you guess what those reasons might be.

Imagine Microsoft subpoenaing Google for the IP of whomever searched for "leaked Microsoft source" and then using that to allege an open source project is built on top of proprietary Microsoft code.

This is why I won't use the Google toolbar, and why for especially sensitive searches, e.g., "STD symptom" or "John Ashcroft calico cat" [snopes.com], I go through an anonymizing proxy.

But while the easiest and permanent way to set image search SafeSearch off is through a cookie, I believe it can also be set per individual search using a check box that is sent to Google in the http GET as a parameter, bypassing cookies.

Re:Fave "hidden" feature (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8348492)

Yeah, because the government is totally going to access google's search logs, grab your IP address, contact your ISP, get their ancient logs, track that to your account and identity and then punish you.... for doing a search on "STD symptom".

Re:Fave "hidden" feature (2, Interesting)

Motherfucking Shit (636021) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348720)

I'd feel much more comfortable if Google would purge its records of searches, or at least remove the IP addresses, but I suppose they have their reasons. I'll let you guess what those reasons might be.
I won't bother making you guess, I'll get straight to the point. There have been rumors for some time now that Google's largest paying clients are governments.

This rumor rings particularly true with Google Groups. So, you post something controversial to Usenet with "X-No-Archive: Yes." You, me, and every other average Joe don't see the post in groups.google.com. But guess who does see it? How about well-funded clients who are paying Google a premium to access archives of supposedly "unarchived" Usenet posts?

The same can be said of binaries. If Google has the resources to cache just about every web page in existance, and a newsfeed strong enough to capture all of the text groups, then they certainly have the resources to maintain an archive of Usenet binaries. Imagine the spook potential of having access to every mp3/warez/child porn/etc binary Usenet post for long enough to conduct an investigation, with the ability to search back through reasonably recent posts to prove prior offenses by the same person. Absolutely priceless.

I have to admit that if I were running the show at Google, I'd quickly cave in to governmental or other high-paying requests to archive things that the general public thought I wasn't archiving. Monetary offers to do this sort of clandestine spidering - whether by governments or wealthy individuals - are almost certainly too outrageous to pass up.

Just food for thought.

Re:Fave "hidden" feature (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8349081)

Because heaven forbid that you get caught if you do something illegal.

Seriously people, lighten up, you got nothing to hide, right.

Re:Fave "hidden" feature (5, Informative)

J'raxis (248192) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348097)

You can turn SafeSearch off by adding "safe=off", by hand, to the URL. "filter=0" is also useful; this prevents Google from hiding multiple images originating from the same host.

Here's what I use. If you use Mozilla, make a bookmark out of the following (fix the spaces Slashdot inserted):
http://images.google.com/images?q=%s&filter=0&hl=e n&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&safe=off
Give the bookmark a keyword such as "gis". Now, when you type "gis foo" into the address bar, it goes to this URL, replacing the "%s" in the URL with "foo".

[Those other parameters are language, input encoding, and output encoding, respectively.]

unit conversion (5, Interesting)

jhawk94 (128005) | more than 10 years ago | (#8347807)

As a physics/physical science lab instructor at the local university, the discovery of the unit conversion feature on Google has been extremely handy. Now when students ask whether their conversion are correct or not, I can point them to a quick easy place where they can check their own work.

In the google search box type "80 calories in joules" and voila.

Re:unit conversion (3, Interesting)

RockyMountain (12635) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348013)

Yeah, but don't ask it for 80 hertz in radians per second. It gives the wrong answer (off by a factor of 2*pi).

Re:unit conversion (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8348957)

Dude - we're all getting sick of you bringing up the stupid radians per second. Let it go retard. Who the hell ever needs to know that anyway?

Google Calculator (5, Funny)

Lendrick (314723) | more than 10 years ago | (#8347819)

Not only does it do math, it's also got a bunch of constants built in, and it can convert units on the fly, even to some more esoteric ones. Try entering the following searches

gravitational constant
speed of light in cubits per fortnight
mass of jupiter in stones
radius of earth * 2 * pi in light years

It's enough to keep a science nerd occupied for hours. :)

Re:Google Calculator (5, Funny)

Undefined Parameter (726857) | more than 10 years ago | (#8347940)

It's still missing a few things; for instance, it won't tell me the speed of an unladen swallow in knots.

But I do like the speed of light in cubits per fortnight. The history geek in me is still laughing. :)

~UP

Pity the Google Calculator has a bug, though. (1, Informative)

RockyMountain (12635) | more than 10 years ago | (#8347960)

Pity it's buggy,:
Try this...
16 hertz in radians per second [google.com]

Notice that the answer is off by a factor of 2*pi.

I reported it to them months ago, but they haven't fixed it.

Re:Google Calculator (3, Interesting)

wrexsoul (48981) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348734)

I actually use google calculator a lot. I can't remember the last time I needed to know how much a Newton was in slug-hands per month squared (1 Newton = 4.66403422 x 1012 (slug hands) per (month squared)), but it's actually invaluable to me while I'm studying in Japan, and namely, trying to adjust myself (and mostly my recipes) to metric.

I swear, cooking is probably one of the biggest things holding the metric system back, with its much-prized teaspoons (~5 mL), tablespoons (~15 mL), cups (~200 mL), and ounces (~30 grams). Fortunately, I have accustomed myself to cooking by eye (I can measure a teaspoon pretty accurately in the palm of my hand), but still, it's important to know just how hot to make a 350 oven (180 C).

Re:Google Calculator (2, Funny)

Gudlyf (544445) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348908)

Damn...this didn't work:

airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow in miles per hour

Re:Google Calculator (2, Funny)

AndrewRUK (543993) | more than 10 years ago | (#8349006)

Well of course that won't work, you're not saying whether you mean an African Swallow or a European one.

Re:Google Calculator (1)

fegu (66137) | more than 10 years ago | (#8349569)

Dud you know the highest speed limit in Norway is only 150 thousand furlongs/fortnight? Fascinating

non-hidden features (3, Informative)

SkewlD00d (314017) | more than 10 years ago | (#8347822)

the non hidden features i use alot are quoting "some phrase like this" and excluding TLD's like -site:com -site:edu etc.

NOT (3, Interesting)

sakusha (441986) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348036)

Yesss! I constantly use the NOT operator, the minus sign before keywords or domains etc. You can refine searches to almost anything with AND (the default operator) and NOT.

I used to like AltaVista's old logical operators, which included parentheses for nested operations. I could do things like
((foo AND bar) OR (foo AND baz))
but I don't think Google supports anything like this.

Old News (-1, Offtopic)

ericrolph (662978) | more than 10 years ago | (#8347842)

Has Slashdot fallen behind the times? I turn to Slashdot for fresh, not stale.

Re:Old News (1)

Stinson (564450) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348065)

this isn't news, its a 'ask slashdot' question. reread the guys question, 'WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE HIDDEN GOOGLE FEATURE".

~stuff (5, Informative)

outlier (64928) | more than 10 years ago | (#8347898)

It's amazing how helpful the "~" can be when doing searches. Prefixing a word with a tilde will search for that word and many of its synonyms. Very helpful when doing things like:

linux ~tutorial [google.com]

Also, I think this list of google tricks [pcmag.com] was listed on /. a while ago.

Spell Checker (4, Insightful)

globalar (669767) | more than 10 years ago | (#8347964)

I know I'm not alone here. Everytime I punch in a commonly misspelled word, dictionary.com, hyperdictionary, etc. is in the first couple links.

It's probably so often used, it's practically overlooked as feature.

Reverse Phone Lookups (4, Informative)

arrow (9545) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348009)

If you have caller ID, or hit Star 69, and do not immediately recognize the number, punch it into google [google.com]. Bonus: maps to the street address on file for that number.

It's a little picky on format (you have to do (555) 555-4444, not 5555554444 or 555-555-4444), but in general very awesome.

Re:Reverse Phone Lookups (1)

jmt9581 (554192) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348069)

Looks like I'm not on file, but my parents' house is. This is a cool feature, do you know where google gets the information to create their personal information database?

Re:Reverse Phone Lookups (1)

Big Sean O (317186) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348837)

>do you know where google gets the information to create their personal information database?

It's called a phone book.

Google either spidered phone book companies websites, or much more likely, bought the data from them directly.

Re:Reverse Phone Lookups (4, Insightful)

rlowe69 (74867) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348361)

It's a little picky on format (you have to do (555) 555-4444, not 5555554444 or 555-555-4444)

It's probably really picky because of the Google calculator [google.com]. The other versions of the phone number you have there are valid mathematical expressions.

AAA-PPP-NNNN *is* valid! (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8348483)

Googling for 225-922-5400 works, so I don't follow your comment about not being able to use that style.

http://www.google.com/search?q=225-922-5400

Search for word 'test' (0, Redundant)

dimss (457848) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348068)

Try to search for word 'test'. Note links on the right side of the page :)

Re:Search for word 'test' (1)

Lukey Boy (16717) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348146)

I don't see anything strange when I make that search. What am I supposed to see?

Froogle for the frugal. (4, Informative)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348080)


Froogle [google.com], for those who like to be careful with money.

Re:Froogle for the frugal. (1)

Chase (8036) | more than 10 years ago | (#8349046)

I recently used Froogle to buy a new Shuttle XPC. Found the company with the lowest price which also happened to be highly rated by other sites and posts on the usenet.

Regular Expressions (5, Funny)

Michael.Forman (169981) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348169)


My favorite feature is the ability to search for items using regular expressions. Just type the string "site:/^[cs].*?edu$/" and BAM! You get jack squat.

Some day our Linux search engine heros will grace us with regular expressions.

Open Source Industrial Music. [naquadria.org]
Michael. [michael-forman.com]

OT: My favorite quote about regular expressions (5, Funny)

Big Sean O (317186) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348865)

Some people, when confronted with a problem, think "I know, I'll use regular expressions." Now they have two problems.

--Jamie Zawinski, in comp.lang.emacs

My favourite feature involves clicking on the logo (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8348187)

If you manage to click on the two letter Os just right, they magically turn into two boobies.

You can then follow a link to a gallery of cached Natalie Portman images.

Nice, Google, Nice.

What people think of you (1)

Bloater (12932) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348334)

I remember when looking for an old message board comment of mine, I got a suggestion before the results to see what people thought of me. Google presented a page full of Tristan is ... snippets from web pages. One of them was even Tristan is a fat ugly bastard from England, which was suprisingly accurate :)

I can't remember how I got the feature to appear though :/

Re:What people think of you (1)

Bambi Dee (611786) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348553)

I can't remember how I got the feature to appear though :/

If you find out, do me a favour and never, ever tell me. 'kay?

Re:What people think of you (2, Informative)

Minam (456447) | more than 10 years ago | (#8349435)

Well, there's Googlism [googlism.com] -- just type in a name or a place it does a Google search, extracting the relevant results to give a summary of what was returned. Quite amusing, really.

This "hidden" category... (4, Interesting)

Masa (74401) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348362)

This Google Directory Category directly under the toplevel: Adult [google.com].

I have no idea, why it is always hidden (even if the content filtering is turned off) or how to reach it from the toplevel.

Have you seen (5, Interesting)

dtfinch (661405) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348458)

Google's Britney Spears [google.com] page?

Re:Have you seen (2, Funny)

Bambi Dee (611786) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348599)

How come nobody, not even people who somehow manage to come up with "pretny" or "brither", misspells "Spears"?

Re:Have you seen (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348864)

Its probably that google didn't realize who these people were looking for so it never got on the list.

Re:Have you seen (2, Funny)

Bambi Dee (611786) | more than 10 years ago | (#8349218)

Well, they do correct, for example, "brotuny spiers": Did you mean: britney spears

(Sheesh, what a way to spend an afternoon.)

Re:Have you seen (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8348611)

britney6 spears

I bet this person was typing with one hand. :)

Best units to convert with google calculator. (3, Funny)

Myco (473173) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348494)

I've been having fun converting moles to baker's dozens -- what else ya got?

Google Wireless (5, Informative)

Laverne (700282) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348608)

I found out that google offers a wireless search engine [google.com]. Just go to that URL with your mobile, enter your search query and google will convert any site it returns to WAP format that your mobile can handle.

Re:Google Wireless (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8349735)

Just go to that URL with your mobile,

With my mobile what?

"Mobile" is an adjective, not a noun. If you mean "mobile phone," say so.

Dumbass probably thinks "female" is a noun, too. Sheesh.

Wildcard searches (4, Informative)

grungeKid (4260) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348649)

The * character works as a wildcard when searching for strings. Try this one [google.com] for some variations of a famous quote.

my favorites (1)

webscathe (448715) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348895)

the phonebooks of course, searched with rphonebook: for residential and bphonebook: for business, also does reverse lookup for the phone #'s themeselves.

specifying a site to search with site: is awesome

Everyone's already mentioned the calculator

If anyone wants a nice in depth look at some of Google's geekier features I highly recomend [slashdot.org] the book Google Hacks [barnesandnoble.com].

2 things (4, Interesting)

0x20 (546659) | more than 10 years ago | (#8349365)

The calculator and the unit conversions are cool. But what I use most are:

1. The Dot. Instead of "search string", search.string works.

2. Search By Location [google.com] (currently in google labs, hopefully to be released soon). I made a mycroft plugin [glayven.com] for it. Download and unzip to your mozilla/firefox searchplugins directory, edit googleloc.src to reflect your zip code, restart browser, and it'll appear in your search dropdown. Just choose it from the dropdown and enter a query, say "pizza hut" or whatever, and bang, you get your nearest pizza huts with map and distances. (It'll stop working when search by location is eventually moved out of labs.google.com, obviously)

It's a bit political, but (1, Redundant)

neosake (655724) | more than 10 years ago | (#8349407)

type in "weapons of mass destruction" in the search box and click "I'm feeling lucky"

How can you call something hidden... (-1, Redundant)

Alpha27 (211269) | more than 10 years ago | (#8349507)

if there is a page on it?

http://www.google.com/help/features.html

I like the fact that now so many features are web accessible through a url, that they can be easily wrapper into some other application.

It's not really a feature, per se... (5, Informative)

josh glaser (748297) | more than 10 years ago | (#8349528)

...but if you type in your search terms twice (monkeys monkeys) you tend to get better results, because that (I believe) only looks for sites with "monkeys" written twice, removing sites just linking to the topic (and the glut of link directory things). It's cool.

something I miss from altavista: (2, Interesting)

dnight (153296) | more than 10 years ago | (#8349597)


They had a link that would return a random result out of the database. Many a boring night was saved by that link. Does anyone know if google has something similar?
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