Google tricks

From various places on line. (Note that you don’t need to type the quotation marks shown below, and depending on what browser you use and how it’s configured, you can often type searches right into the address bar.)

  1. For useless fun, type “do a barrel roll” into a Google search bar and the screen will rotate.
  2. Type a calculation (such as “2+2” or “2*pi*50”) and Google will tell you the answer and also bring up an on-screen calculator. You can also type things like “10 miles in centimeters” or “the speed of light in furlongs per fortnight” or a currency conversion such as “25 USD in GBP”.
  3. Type “define” followed by a word and Google will tell you the definition.
  4. Type something like “translate pomme from French into Spanish” and Google will do that for you, and of course it works for different words and different languages as well. You can also leave out the “from” part and Google will try to guess the language, and if you leave out the “to” language Google will assume you mean English. For example, type “translate hundo” and Google will correctly tell you that “hundo” is the Esperanto word for dog. It will also let you override Google’s default choices for the source language and target languages. For example, if you type “translate gift into French” Google will assume you mean the English word gift (“le don” in French), but you’ll have an opportunity to change the source language to German, in which “das Gift” means poison or change the target language into Esperanto, in which poison is “veneno”.
  5. You can limit a Google search to a specific website by including something like “” in your search phrase, and you can look for a particular type of file by including “filetype:pdf” or “filetype:doc” or the like.
  6. You can get the status of a flight simply by searching for the airline code and the flight number, as in “AA 8” (an American Airlines flight from Honolulu to Dallas).
  7. Type a package tracking number (FedEx, UPS, or United States Postal Service) into the search box, and Google will link you to the appropriate delivery service’s website.
  8. Search for what movies are playing near you in the U.S. by typing “movies” or “films” and your 5-digit Zip code. (This also works for some postal codes outside the U.S.)
  9. Type a city name followed by “forecast” to get a weather forecast.
  10. Type a movie actor’s name followed by “bacon number” and Google will find a chain of actors/movies linking the actor with Kevin Bacon. For example, type “Cary Grant bacon number” and it will tell you “Cary Grant’s Bacon number is 2. Cary Grant and Steve Martin appeared in Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid. Steve Martin and Kevin Bacon appeared in Planes, Trains and Automobiles.” That’s the same bacon number as Ben Jones and William Shatner. (No, they apparently don’t do Erdős numbers yet, though those numbers — linking mathematicians to Paul Erdős via a sequence of coauthored papers rather than actors to Kevin Bacon through a chain of movies — can be found on other sites, and you can even find Erdős-Bacon numbers, which are the sum of the two. Actress Danica McKellar, for example, has an Erdős-Bacon number of 6 based on her acting roles and a math paper she published as an undergraduate.)
  11. Search for “Bletchley Park” (site of Britain’s code and cipher school) and in a descriptive box on the right an encrypted version of the name will appear and be decrypted as you watch.
  12. On Google maps ( search for “The White House” and when the result appears, click the See Inside link to take a virtual tour.
  13. Search for “anagram” and Google will ask if you meant “nag a ram” (an anagram of anagram). Search for “recursion” and it will ask if you meant “recursion.”

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