How to Use Google Better, Part 1: Google’s Non-Search Features

By Kevin Ho

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Google Search is super convenient — type in whatever you need, and generally, whatever you need shows up in a matter of milliseconds. Whether it’s looking up obscure historical facts, directions to the airport, or how to change a flat tire, Google’s search engine has become an indispensable part of our daily lives.

At first glance, you can find out almost anything with a simple Google search. Looking under the hood, though, you can also do a variety of other useful things with Google by typing in different commands in the Google search bar. For example, did you know that there are many different built-in functions in Google besides search?

Learn about a few other cool things to do on Google besides a simple web search.

Here are a few other cool things to do on Google besides searching.

Table of Contents:
Metronome
Google Translate
Dice Roller
Random Number Generator
Flip A Coin
Calculator
Timer/Stopwatch
Unit Conversion
Currency Conversion
Color Picker
Games
Google in 1998

Metronome

Google’s Metronome function provides a convenient way to track a musician’s timing and make sure they have a tempo reference. The metronome is set to a 100 beats-per-minute (bpm) by default. The slider can be shifted to the left to a slow 40 bpm or a blisteringly fast 218 bpm. Google Metronome provides a steady beat that can be used by musicians, composers, and musicologists alike, but be warned, some users have found that it is not always accurate.

To use Google Metronome, search for “Metronome” or click here.

Google Translate

The now world-famous Google Translate can translate a variety of languages from one to another with a reasonable (and ever-increasing) amount of accuracy. Google Translate can take written or voice commands, and can even translate written documents, such as Microsoft Word documents or PDFs.  As of writing this post in September 2020, Google Translate can support up to 109 languages, including English, Spanish, French, and Chinese, among many others. Google Translate is constantly being updated to ensure more accurate translations.  It is also available as a smartphone app for both iOS and Android mobile devices.

To use Google Translate, search for “Google Translate” or click here.

Dice Roller

Are you a tabletop gamer? Did you forget your dice to your most recent D&D session? Do you just want to roll the dice to see the chance of something happening? Then Google’s Dice Roller is an easy and accessible way to get easy dice rolls when physical dice are not available. Roll a variety of dice that you could buy online or at a store, from D4 to D20, in any combination — and you can re-roll easily with the click of a button. Regardless of what type of tabletop game you play, Google’s Dice Roller is a convenient way to make up for a forgotten dice bag by allowing you to continue to participate in your board game sessions. 

To use Google Dice Roller, search for “Dice Roller” or click here.

Random Number Generator

Like the dice roller but more precise and granular, Google’s random number generator is a simple and accessible way of randomly generating numbers from a numerical range of your choosing. Just type in the minimum and maximum values for your random numbers, then click “Generate” — you can regenerate numbers as many times as necessary.

You can input negative numbers as well as positive, so your numerical range goes from -9999999999 to 9999999999.

The random number generator comes in handy whether you are looking for a way to obtain random numbers, for example, if you are a blogger who is doing a gift giveaway or raffle for your subscribers.

To use Google’s Random Number Generator, search for “Random Number Generator” or click here.

Flip A Coin

Do you need to get a randomized result and only want two different outcomes? Can’t find change to do a heads/tails flip because of the COVID-19 coin shortage? Need to find a quick way to figure out whether you or your little brother need to clean the laundry first? Google can do that for you by way of a virtual coin toss.

To use Google Flip A Coin, search for “Coin Flip” or click here.

Calculator

You can perform simple arithmetic with Google’s calculator, like addition, subtraction, or multiplication. Furthermore, you can also compute exponents, logarithms, and trigonometric functions such as sine and cosine, among other things. By the way, besides the calculator function, Google tools can also help you compute mortgage payments or calculate tips.

Now you don’t have to worry about forgetting your calculator, or buying an expensive calculator, when you have a free calculator on Google that does advanced math.

To use Google Calculator, type in a mathematical equation or “Google Calculator” or click here.

Timer/Stopwatch

Timers and stopwatches are a great way to time how fast you can accomplish something, or as a way to enforce time management in your schedule such as via the Pomodoro Method. The stopwatch tracks time in seconds and minutes as soon as you start, and it serves as a great way to see how fast you can finish something — whether it’s cooking a meal or running a mile.

The timer is much more versatile than the stopwatch — you can input time in hours, minutes, or seconds. Like the stopwatch, the Google timer begins as soon as you hit the start button. You will need to make sure that your mobile phone or computer is not on mute for the alarm to sound when time is up.

To use Google Timer and/or Stopwatch, search either Timer or Stopwatch in Google. They both show up in the same interface, and you can toggle between them.

Unit Conversion

In this globalized and data-driven world, we are constantly bombarded with numbers and figures that measure a wide variety of things. For example, a colleague in another country may only discuss temperatures in Celsius, when you may be used to Fahrenheit; or, you may need to do a quick conversion — of a weight, volume, length, or speed, to name a few — for work or for a personal project.

It’s essential to know how to convert different unfamiliar units of measurement to those that we can readily grasp. This is especially important in science and scientific writing, because having accurate data with the correct units is needed to communicate findings correctly. Google’s unit converter allows for accessible, instant, and accurate data conversions of some of the most used units today.

To use Google Unit Converter, type, for example “convert US Dollars into Japanese Yen” or click here.

Currency Conversion

In a world where international business is commonplace, it is important to have the most up-to-date exchange rates to be able to calculate currency conversions. Normally, conversion rates are a complex mathematical process done by financial experts and institutions in important trade centers like in New York and London. The exchange rates these days often vary from day to day, because most countries have adopted a floating exchange rate. Google’s currency converter updates every day, giving you an accurate reading on how many US Dollars convert to Euros, and vice versa. All of this is available just with a quick Google search.

For example, if you want to know how many Euros would be equivalent to $50, you can Google something like: “50 USD to Euros.”

To use Google Currency Converter, search for Currency Converter or click here.

Color Picker

Looking to convert between different color values in HEX, RGB, CMYK, HSV, and/or HSL?  The Google Color Picker tool can help you convert between these different values.  You can type in values manually or use the color wheel to select a color and extract the relevant color values.  This can be particularly useful for web design.

To use Google Color Picker, search for Color Picker or click here.

Games

There are a few games on Google search. They’re not all searchable — a couple of them are available at the Google mirror, https://www.elgoog.mi (That’s “I’m Google” spelled backwards). Here are some games to play on Google if you are looking to pass the time:

Atari Breakout is a Pong-style game. Use the left and right arrows to move the paddle to direct the bouncing ball.

In Zerg Rush, one must click the small o’s; otherwise, they will destroy the search results page.

If you like classic gaming, check out Google Pacman, Solitaire, Minesweeper, Tic Tac Toe, or Snake.

Google in 1998

Nostalgic for the days of the dotcom era?  Search for “google in 1998” for a 1990s Google user interface.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many ways you can use Google to solve all sorts of everyday problems. Whether its math equations, translations, unit conversions, or dictionary definitions, Google has become such a household name that the knowledge of certain things that would require an extensive education is now easily accessible. There is a reason why when you ask someone a question, a common response would be “let me google that for you.”

While versatile and possessing great breadth of knowledge, these basic search functions can only answer relatively simple questions. If you want to find specific or in-depth sources to certain questions, you need a more nuanced understanding of how to use Google search. You can use a variety of shortcuts to narrow down your search results. We discuss these shortcuts in Part 2 of our “How to Google Better” series.

This post is Part 1 of our “How to Google Better” series. Check out Part 2, How to Use Google Search Operators, here.

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