A new day, a new thing

My goal to learn something new every day

Day 15: Google is awesome

Google is pretty awesome, I think most people will agree. Okay, so they might want to take over the world one day, but they certainly do make our lives easier. I think a lot of people know that Google has a lot of cool tricks, so many so in fact that I learned about quite a few today. Some of the Google tricks that you see described on the internet unfortunately no longer work, but all of the tricks here definitely work as of today. I’m using Chrome browser by the way, which I think makes a difference for one or two. There are literally hundreds of tricks and hidden features out there, but today, I’m confining the ones in this post to the new ones that I’ve learned today.

Today, you have the choice: Watch the video, or read about the tricks. Or even better, why not do both?

Using Google search

Google Translate Handwriting

Google translate is a really useful tool, even if the translations are a little iffy at times. But typing into Google can be tricky, especially if you want to translate from an alphabet you don’t know how to type in. Fortunately, Google translate has a handwriting tool that lets you write the symbols you want to translate.

To access the translate handwriting tool, just go to the Google Translate site, and click on the pen icon in the lower left corner of the search box.


Google translate handwriting tool


Tip calculator

There are loads of apps and websites out there already that will let you calculate how much tip you owe, but why use them when Google can do it for you? Just type “Tip calculator” into Google and it will bring up a super easy-to-use tool.


I read about this one on quite a few websites. Supposedly, you are able to type “set a timer for 5 minutes” and Google will create a timer for you. Unfortunately, I was not able to get this to work, and searching around on forums, it looked as if Google had stopped this service. However, I found that there was a way to still access Google’s timer. Just type “timer” into Google, nothing else and you will bring up the timer. Then, using your mouse, place the cursor over the numbers, and type the time you want to count down from. For example, if you want to set a timer for 10 minutes, you’ll need to type 1-0-0-0.

Google’s timer is really clean and ad free, which makes it great for use in class.

Google timer

Google timer


I often use Google to search for spellings and definitions of words. Usually when you type a fairly long/unusual word into Google, the first thing it shows you is a definition. But for more common words, it doesn’t. However, today I found that by typing ‘define’ and then the word you want to get the definition for, Google will automatically put the definition box at the top of the search results. Another useful tip that I’m sure a lot of students would like to know about.

Google Image search – Drag and drop

Google image search is great. The reverse image search is awesome. Let’s say you have an image and you want to search for it to see where it is from. You can upload the image to Google, and it will find all other examples of that image on the internet, and it will even show you similar images. Until today, every time I’ve wanted to use the feature, I clicked on the little camera icon in the search bar and had to navigate to the picture.

It turns out that there’s a much easier way. Just open Google image search, and then drag and drop the image file from your computer onto the search bar and it will upload the file immediately.

image search


Living and working in another country means that an awareness of different time zones is essential. Again, there are apps that you can get that let you see the times in different cities, but Google lets you see the time in any city really easily. Just type ‘time’ followed by a city into the search bar and it will show you the local time. No more worrying about DST!


I’ve known about the site: search operator on Google for a while. It’s really great when you want to search a specific website, especially when that website’s own search function is not very good, or even worse non-existent. But one thing I learned today about the search operator is that you don’t even need to search a specific site, you can just search through a certain type of site, for example .gov sites, or sites within a certain region, such as .kr (Korea), .uk (UK, duh!).

To do this, type ‘site:’ (the colon is important) followed by the domain name suffix. Let’s say you wanted to search through all of the academic sites in the UK, the suffix is .ac.uk, you would type ‘site:ac.uk’ followed by a space and your search terms. Google then displays all of the search results that come only from websites ending in .ac.uk.


Atari Breakout

Games are great! I’m not a big gamer, but the occasional 5-minute game is always a welcome distraction from work. Google has a few hidden games built in. For example, the classic Atari Breakout game. To access the game, open up Google image search and type ‘Atari breakout’. Have fun.


Zerg rush

Another game that can be accessed through Google is called Zerg Rush. Again, to get to the game, type ‘zerg rush’ into the search bar. Lots of little Google Os will start attacking the screen and you have to click to get rid of them.

Keyboard shortcuts (in Chrome browser)


Do you ever close a tab, and then suddenly regret doing so? In Google’s Chrome browser, you can open previously closed tabs, by clicking on the settings menu and finding that option. However, today, I found an even easier way. Just by using the keyboard shortcut CTRL + SHIFT + T, you can automatically open up the most recently closed tab.

CTRL + left click

When you’re searching Google, sometimes, if you’re like me, you want to open up several different links. Most of the time, I’m happy to click on the link and have it open in the same window as the search. But when I want to open up several links, I’ve been right-clicking and then choosing ‘Open in a new tab’. Fortunately, there’s an even easier way to do this. Just press and hold the CTRL button and then left click as normal and the website will open up in a new tab, leaving you able to continue to browse the search results. (I’m not sure if this one only works in Chrome too).

[UPDATE]: Both of these keyboard shortcuts are for Google’s Chrome browser. For the second one, opening a link in a new tab, it works on all links, not just the search results on Google.

Useless, but fun

These final two seem to serve no purpose other than giving you a 5-second smile. Just type the following two search terms into Google and press enter.

‘Do a barrel roll’


Featured image courtesy of Carlos Luna on Flickr

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This entry was posted on January 15, 2015 by in Tech and tagged , , , , .


January 2015

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