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17 surprising things you didn’t know you could do with Google
It’s practically a replacement for your brain.
You probably spend a considerable chunk of your day typing things into Google’s search bar. The world’s leading search engine is pretty efficient at answering the billions of queries—from basic to complex to completely inane—it receives every day. Google’s search function has evolved in recent years to make more advanced and customized types of information available at your fingertips.
Here are just some of the things that you probably didn’t know you could Google.
1) The cheapest airfare from all the major travel booking websites at once
Google Flights, the search engine’s built-in flight tracking application, gives the major travel websites like Expedia, Orbitz, and Kayak a run for their money. Simply type in “Flights from x to y”, and you’ll be on your way.
Google Flights will show you the cheapest fares from all the major flight booking engines, browse current prices by months, and show you the cheapest times and places to fly based on your destination.
If you have your heart set on a certain destination, Google Flights will track fares for you. You can sign-up to get alerts for when prices to your selected routes fall.
2) The current Olympics medal tally by country
Google’s custom page for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio has a wealth of information. You can keep track of how many medals each nation is winning, get an overview of each sport, an exhaustive schedule of events (both televised and non-), as well as an overview of athletes by sport and country.
3) The scores and schedules of any professional sport
4) The exact time anywhere in the world
5) The location of your nearest Starbucks, mall, movie theater, and more
Need a caffeine fix or low on gas? You can easily find the nearest Starbucks, gas station, grocery store, Walmart, florist, bookstore, etc., by simply Googling “nearest” followed by the thing you need.
6) Your public IP address
Need to know your public IP address? Simply Google it.
7) How to register to vote in your state
States have different deadlines, requirements for ID, and rules for online, mail-in, and in-person voter registration. Google “register to vote” and you’ll find a state-by-state voter registration guide—just in time for the 2016 presidential election.
8) Calorie counts for virtually any food
If you’re watching your weight, counting calories can easily amount to a chore. While packaged foods have easy to find nutrition labels, it can be trickier to estimate calories in restaurant foods or even homemade foods.
Google can give you calorie and nutritional estimates for virtually any food. Find out how many grams of protein, sugar, and fats you can expect in your next meal.
9) Exchange rates for any currency
This trick is especially helpful when you’re traveling. Google “how many dollars is” followed by the amount in the currency you wish to convert. You can also see a graph of trends in exchange rates. This method works for other currencies as well by replacing the term “dollar.”
10) Cooking measurements conversions
Are you scaling up your mother’s famous recipe for chocolate chip cookies? Have you drawn a blank at how many cups are in a pint? (It’s two.) Simply type out the measurements you want to convert, and Google does the rest.
Left your TI-85 at home and still have to do your trigonometry homework? Yes, your Google search bar can perform basic and advanced mathematical functions. This includes trigonometric functions, logarithms, exponential functions, and combinations.
12) Convert length, mass, volume, area, mass, time, electricity, energy, and power
You can perform some funky conversions with Google. Need to find out how many kilojoules are in one British thermal unit? Google has you covered.
13) The translation of any phrase in another language
You can access Google Translate directly through the search bar.
14) Set a timer
Whether you need a stopwatch for your workouts or a timer for baking, Google has a built-in timer.
15) Split a bill and calculate tip
You know the drill. You have Friday night dinner plans with two other friends. Then Andrea brings her boyfriend, Steve, who also brings his buddy Nick and his roommate whose name you don’t remember, and before you know it, you’re dining with 19 other people, all of whom stare blankly at the exorbitant bill at the end of the night. For times like this, Google’s tip calculator comes in handy. Just Google “tip calculator” and type in the dollar amount of your bill, the percent you wish to tip (it’s usually 18 percent for large groups), and the number of people you’re dining with. Crisis averted.
16) Is Trump or Clinton winning?
17) Identify random plants, trees, paintings
What’s that strange, yellow thing growing on one of the trees in your backyard? Is the painting you found at a garage sale worth more than it looks? Take a photo and let Google Image Search do the work.
Amrita Khalid is a technology and politics reporter who specializes in breaking down complex issues into practical, useful terms. A former contributor to CQ, a Congressional news and analysis site, she's currently a master's candidate in international relations at the University of Leeds.