5 Google tips and tricks

Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

Web search, image search, email – odds are you use Google for at least one of these things every day. But just because you use something every day doesn’t mean you know every secret.

In fact, I’ve rounded up five things you can do with Google that you probably had no idea. Some are useful and some are just fun, but you’ll want to give them all a try.

First off, even a lot of avid computer users don’t know how many interesting things are “baked in” on the Google front page. You can type in a math equation, for example, or a flight number or FedEx tracking number, and get the data you’re looking for.

You can ask for the weather in whatever town you want, get a definition of a word and do conversions in weights and money and different currencies, too. (Just type in phrases like “define ineffable” or “$200 in euros.”).

Next, here’s one you don’t hear about too much: Google Reverse Image Search. It’s kind of like a reverse phone directory, except for images.

Go to your Google home page and then click Images. You can click the little camera icon and either drag and drop a photo or upload one from your computer. The drag-and-drop feature, I discovered, is a bit clunky.

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In Google’s Chrome browser, though, you can just right-click on any image and select “search Google for this image.” There’s a Firefox add-on, too.

However you do it, you’ll get a page listing the other places that image has been seen on the Web – and, in most cases, Google’s best guess as to what it is. The practical uses of this, if you think about it for a bit, are many! It can help you figure out everything from the name of an actor in a movie to the brand name of an appliance or piece of furniture to a toy, plant or animal.

My next tip is an entire category of Google fun – in the “tricks” category rather than “tips.” If you have nothing better to do, type “barrel roll” into the Google search engine. If that rocks your socks, try a few others: “tilt” or “askew” is always fun. Finally, type in “Google gravity” – and hit “I’m feeling lucky.”.

A Google “Easter egg” I’ve always loved – and a very useful one if you need to kill a few minutes – is what you get if you Google “zerg rush.” This is a reference to the video game StarCraft; give it a few seconds and start clicking on the invaders, before they eat up your search results!

Zerg Rush is a couple of years old at this point; a newer one is a homage to the video games of yesteryear. Go to a Google Image Search and type in “Atari Breakout” – and stay on your toes.

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Have you ever been on a particular site (I’m not mentioning any names) and just couldn’t find something you knew was there? Try using Google’s site-specific search; the search company’s results are often better than many big operations! This works great on everything from media sites to retail outlets. Just include “site:www.Example.Com” along with your search term to get results just from that site.

Finally, are you into movies and music? You might have noticed that if you type in an actor or director’s name, Google will give you a handy box on the right with a lot of pertinent information. Try looking for, say “films of Alfred Hitchcock” and you’ll get an even more impressive array.

Have you ever had a certain artist’s songs singing in your head? Try typing in “Songs by Springsteen.” You’ll be presented with a table of his most popular songs listed at the top of the page. There’s even a right arrow that takes you to many more. Choose one, and you’ll get taken to a YouTube video – and get a quick Bruce fix.

On the Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show, Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, newsletters and more, visitwww.Komando.Com. E-mail her at [email protected].

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