Opinion: 22 really simple things you didn’t know you could do with Google

by Chinedu Nnawetanma

To most people, Google is nothing more than a regular search engine where you type in keywords and questions and a couple of relevant links containing answers are displayed. But to many others who are in the know, Google is much more than that. It has become a multipurpose tool that you can utilize for performing a couple of day-to-day tasks.

Google has really changed the way we see and use the internet in so short a time and it’s poised to even do more. Today, Google has added some cool features to its search engine platform which many people still do not know about. Below is a compilation of some of the coolest ways the big G is many life easier. With Google you will be able to:

1. Check today’s date
If you are confused about what the day’s date is and there is no calendar at your disposal, make use of Google’s calendar. By simply typing “What is today?” into the Google search box it tells you today’s date and the day of the week.
2. Know the current time in your locality and elsewhere
You just need a smartphone and an internet connection to do this. With this tool you don not need to run some complicated calculations in your head to know what the time says many time zones away from your locality. To find out what time it is in your city or anywhere else in the world, google something like this: “Enugu time” or “Tokyo time.” This gives you the day of the week, date of the month, time of the day and the timezone of the location.
3. Know when it is sunrise and sunset anywhere in the world
Google’s billion-dollar satellite systems have made it easier to predict the exact time the sun will rise in the morning and when it will set in virtually all parts of the world. To test this ambitious tool use the format “Sunrise time city” or “Sunset time city.” For example, “Sunrise time Cape Town” or “Sunset time London.”
4. Get to know the English Premier League fixtures, results, table and latest scores
Google has something for the sports fans too. Instead navigating through maze-like sections of sports blogs and football news sites to find out when next your club will be in action, you can conveniently do it with Google search. Google “EPL fixtures,” “EPL results,” or “EPL table” to get on with it. You can also do this with the German Bundesliga, la Liga, Serie A, UEFA Champions League and other top leagues and sporting events in the world. Just replace “EPL” with any league or competition of your choice to see if it’s covered by Google.
5. Run scientific calculations
Google’s scientific calculator is even more scientific than most “scientific” calculators you will come across. If you want to run some calculations but there is no calculator in sight, open your web browser from a high-end smartphone or PC and google “Google calculator.” From a lower device you may have to do it manually. Type something similar to these calculations in your search box: “5857 x 34747” “46 + 65” “2^2” “6 cos 7.”
Weather forecasts can be very unreliable in this part of the world especially when you factor in the rainmakers and the rain blockers, but that is not enough reason not to try out Google Weather. 
6. Get the definitions, synonyms, antonyms and etymologies of words
Google’s incorporated dictionary is undoubtedly more flexible than the bulky hard copy dictionaries and thesauruses we are all used to. There is no special trick for this. Try googling things like these examples: “Define xenoglossy,” “Xenoglossy definition,” “Automobile synonym,” and “Etymology of democracy.”
7. Convert measurements online
Most smartphones no longer come with built-in measurement converters anymore, making it almost impossible to convert things from one measurement to another. But that was until conversions were added to Google search. To convert a unit of measurement into another, try something like this: “532 feet to yards,” “47 centimeters to miles,” “87 kilograms to pounds.”
8. Convert currencies online
You can get the up-to-the-minute international exchange rates of currencies the world over by typing something similar to this into the Google search box: “1 dollar to naira” or “1 yuan to yen.”
9. Set a timer
Google search can also function as a timer. Type in some thing like this: “Set timer for 10 minutes” or “Set timer for 1 hour” and see your screen counting down to zero.
10. Discover the distance between cities and towns
Google’s search engine is able to accurately tell you the distance between two cities and towns along a major route, courtesy of Google Map. Use this format to find out if it’s true: “Distance between CityA and CityB.” For example, type “Distance between Onitsha and Lagos.”
11. Know the weather conditions
Weather forecasts can be very unreliable in this part of the world especially when you factor in the rainmakers and the rain blockers, but that is not enough reason not to try out Google Weather. The search engine gathers climatic conditions about a location from several authentic weather channels. It gives you the temperature, precipitation, relative humidity, wind conditions and visibility of the location over a period of 8 days. Use “Temperature of City” as the format. For example, google “Temperature of Jos” or “Temperature of Abuja.”
12. Know popular books, movies and works by famous authors, movie makers, actors, artists etc
Are you an inquisitive knowledge grabber like me? Knowing and possibly reading all the major works of your favourite author(s) is now a click away. A compendium of works from the world’s leading authors, movie makers, artists and several others is available on Google if you search for it. Search for terms like this: “Books by Achebe,” “Movies by Spielberg” and “Works by Michelangelo.”
13. Know a movie’s casts
Google something like this: “Casts of the Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Casts of Hercules” and “Casts of Half of A Yellow Sun.”
14. Translate words
Most translation applications available online are unreliable and full of calamitous errors. Google Translate has proven to be one of the most reliable (though it’s not 100% accurate) and it has just been added to the search engine. To translate words into any language of your choice use keywords like “Translate word to French” or simple type “Translate” into search box. For example, google “Translate book to Igbo.”
15. Check a flight status
This is really advanced for most Nigerian airlines because of the lack of an adequate online tracking technology. If you are lucky to be in the diaspora, it is possible to find out the status of a flight by typing in its flight number. For example, type in “Virgin Atlantic 201.”
16. Get local cinema listings
Like checking a flight’s status, this functionality is not really available for Nigeria, but it sure will in the future. Google the name of the city or it’s postal/zip code to know its cinema listings for the weekend just like this: “Movies for Miami.”
17. Extract data online
The work of statisticians and researchers has been made somewhat easier. These data can be economic or demographic. Use search terms like “Population of India” “Unemployment rate of Britain” “GDP growth rate of Nigeria” to get on with it/get this done.
18. Track your package online
To track a package sent through one of the popular delivery agents out there like DHL, type in the tracking number in the serach box. For example, google “1D4678767292920862”
19. Play a game online
Bored? Why not play a game…. on Google? There some arcade games and brain teasers you can play on the Google search engine, one of them is the once popular Pacman. Type in “Play Pacman on Google” and play.
20. Get stock quotes
Get the stock quotes of your favourite listed companies on Google. Use the format “Stock quote Company.” For example, google “Stock quote Apple,” “Stock quote Berkshire Hathaway” or “Stock quote Microsoft.”
21. Discover your IP address
Type “IP address” into the search box to know your device’s public internet protocol address.
22. Highlight and ignore words
To highlight important words that must be displayed in your search results, put them in quote. For example, typing “St. John “apostle” ” (please ignore the first and last quotation marks) will ensure that all results displayed by Google will have the search term “apostle” in them. This helps you to narrow the search down to exactly what you are looking for. In the example above, searching only for St. John will display results about St. John’s church, St. John’s cathedral, the city of St. John, St. John the Baptist and many others while all you are looking for is information about St. John the Apostle. Also, to ignore words that are irrelevant to your search, add the minus sign (-). For example, searching for “Education in developing countries -Nigeria” will remove all the web pages that have the word “Nigeria” when displaying the results.
Note: Most of these tricks only work on high-end smartphones, tablets and personal computers.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

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