If all you do with Google is type in a word, hit "Enter" and hope you'll get a useful response, you're missing out on easy-to-use features that deliver faster, more accurate results. Here is a baker's dozen of our favorite tips for turning unsophisticated searchers into Google gurus.
Are you interested in what a particular source has published about a topic? You can limit Google's search to a single site by adding "site:www.example.com" to your request. For example, if you were researching reverse mortgages and wanted reliable information, you could enter: reverse mortgage site:aarp.org.
Measurement and Currency Conversions
A recipe you found online uses the metric system, but your measuring cup uses ounces. Or maybe you're headed to France for a vacation trip. How much does that lovely chapeau priced at 40 euros cost in real money? Google has the answers. Enter "convert 250 grams to ounces" or "convert 40 euros to dollars" and get an instant response.
Got the Time?
Wondering what time it is in a distant location? Don't hunt for a time zone chart — just type "time in Bali" (or wherever) into the search bar, and the answer pops up at the top of your Google results.
Do the Math
No need to hunt for a calculator when there are numbers to crunch. Just enter the figures into the search bar and Google will figure it out for you, such as "19875 x 85 =." And unlike most calculators, the figures you entered are displayed along with the result, making it easier to catch errors caused by entering numbers incorrectly.
Are you scratching your head trying to figure out the perfect word to use in your search? There's a simple solution. If you type a tilde (~) in front of a search term, you'll get results for that word and related words. For example, if you're looking for an inexpensive place to stay in Boston, searching "Boston hotel ~inexpensive" will also return results with the words "cheap," "affordable" and "low-cost."
On the flip side, what if you want results for exactly the phrase you had in mind? If you enter your search within quotation marks, Google will limit results to the specified words in that exact order.
Not What I Meant
Sometimes the results you're looking for get buried in irrelevant responses. For example, my son has the same name as a tennis player who's received a fair amount of online attention. Instead of wading through pages and pages of tournament results to see sites where my kid appears, I can simply type in his name followed by a minus sign and the word I want to exclude from search results: John Doe – tennis.
Track a Package
Wondering where that shipment has wandered? If you have a tracking number from UPS, FedEx or the U.S. Post Office, just enter it as a Google search. The search engine will recognize the format of the number you entered and automatically bring up an appropriate link to track the package.
Instant Weather Info
Wondering whether you need to carry an umbrella today? As you're headed for the door, take a moment to type the word "weather" and your ZIP code into a Google search (i.e. "weather 20049"). You'll get the current temperature, the expected high and low for the day, and the outlook for the next three days, too.
What Does That Mean?
You're reading an online article and find a word you don't recognize. No need to reach for a dictionary. Instead, open a search window, type in "define" and the word (i.e., "define loquacious"), and let Google come up with the answer, drawn from a variety of Web-based resources.
Check Your Stocks
Wondering how your nest egg is holding up? If you search for a stock symbol in Google, it will return the current price, along with the open, high and low prices, the volume and average volume, the company's market capitalization, and a graph of the day's activity (i.e., "SIRI" for Sirius XM Radio Inc. stock).
Get an Instant Map
Instead of visiting maps.google.com, you can simply enter an address as a Google search and have a map displayed immediately. And as a bonus, if there's a business at that address, its name is displayed.
How Do You Say…?
If there's a foreign word or phrase you don't understand, type it into Google with the word "translate." For example "translate fourteen to French" brings up the answer "quatorze" in a moment. If you have a more extensive translation job at hand, Google can help, too, by heading to translate.google.com. Here you can enter a phrase or a website address if you'd like an entire page translated, or even upload a document. This is a machine translation, of course, so it won't have the precision a human would bring to the task, but it's usually good enough to let you understand the meaning.