Are You SURE You Know How to Use Google?

Yaara Lancet 01-02-2013

Most of you are probably thinking “you bet!” or “what’s there to KNOW?” right about now. I believe you. The truth is, if you know how to enter a query and hit enter, you know how to use Google. At least in its basic form. And if you search often, you’ve probably also encountered Google’s OneBox results once or twice before.


What are these OneBox results? While you may not have heard the name before, OneBox results have been around for years now, and have been helping you get focused and clearer results for your search queries. Have you ever searched for the local weather and got a small widget on top showing you what the weather is like today? That’s a great example of OneBox results. This is not to be confused with Knowledge Graph An In-Depth Look at Google's New Knowledge Graph Read More results, which appear to the right of the page. Knowledge Graph results were added less than a year ago.

The new and slick Knowledge Graph aside, there are still dozens of useful things you can find out from OneBox results. All you need to know is the right syntax to activate them, and you’re into a whole new world of Google results. This could take you all day to read if I try to mention them all, but here are some you definitely don’t want to miss. Looking for more useful tips on how to use Google? Check out our Google Search cheat sheet The Best Google Search Cheat Sheet: Tips, Operators, and Commands to Know These special Google search tips, operators, and commands will help you narrow down your search results and always get the exact results you're looking for. Read More .


When it comes to movies, books, music, etc., Google is full of useful surprises. Want to explore the full discography or filmography of an artist? Look for [artist] movies or [artist] albums. This yields a visual display of all movies/albums, complete with covers, names and release dates. Click on any album/movie to read more about it in Knowledge Graph.

This works just as well with authors: search for [author] books. You can get the roster for any sports team in the same fashion by looking for [sports team] roster.

how to use google


You can also search for [artist] latest album to quickly find what the latest release was.

Found a movie you want to watch? Search for [name of movie] [zipcode] to find local show times (works in the US, Canada, and most of Europe, might also work in other regions). Can’t decide which movie to watch? movie [zipcode] will find local show times for all movies playing around you.

ways to use google

Want to find when your favorite team is playing next? Searching for the team’s name will yield all upcoming and recent games, complete with scores (if applicable), rival teams, team logos, times and ticket links.


ways to use google


In the olden days, people calculated things in their heads, or using pen and paper. Later on, we started using calculators for everything. Today, you don’t even need to launch (or bring) your calculator for most things, just use Google. Google’s calculator can handle anything from simple calculations to more complex ones. All you have to do is search for the equation, and Google will present the result.

ways to use google

Want to continue calculating with your result? Google’s calculator is completely usable, and you can use it to continue your calculations.


You can also use Google to draw graphs, from simple ones to 3D ones. Enter an equation in the search box and see what happens.

using google

But there’s more to numbers than math equations. In day-to-day life, we commonly use numbers as measurements. Google has you covered there too. How many milliliters are there in a cup? How many grams in an ounce? Google shows immediate results for all such queries. You can even play around with the dropdown menus to get further conversions.

using google


The same trick works with currency conversions. Just search for “23 usd in euro” (or anything similar) and get an immediate conversion, along with a full graph of currency-rates history.

using google


Flying somewhere? Google shows OneBox results for general flight searches as well as flight information for specific flights. Look for [airline] [flight number] to find out where this flight is at the moment, where it’s coming from and when and where it’s landing.


If you search for “flights from [X] to [Y]” you’ll find a list of available flights with current prices. But what if you’ve decided to drive this time? How long is it going to take you?

Try searching for [starting point] to [destination] and see what happens. This trick doesn’t always work, and I only got it to work with US addresses, but you can play around and see what you get.


Already there and looking for things to do? Searching for “things to do in [place]” will yield a visual guide to the most popular local attractions. Clicking on an attraction will show its specific Google search results.


General Knowledge

There’s an endless amount of facts to be found on Google, and you may encounter hidden OneBox results you didn’t know existed just by entering your queries. But in case you’re curious, here are some interesting ones worth trying.

Looking for health information? Google provides instant information on some diseases and medicine. Type in the name to see what you get.


Interested in gaining some general knowledge? Google offers instant results for questions like “how big is Paris?”, “who is the president of Micronesia?”, “how tall is the Empire State building?” and many others.


You can also find such oddities as team mascots and dog-breed characteristics in this way.

Google also helps you in the language department, by providing both instant translations and instant dictionary definitions for English words. This doesn’t work for every word in the English language, naturally, but it usually works for words you might need a definition for.


To get instant translations, search for translate [word] to [language]”. This works in all languages supported by Google Translate.

how to use google

Are You Sure NOW?

While I’m sure you knew how to use Google for searching before, these neat tricks sure make it easier and much more fun. The most exciting part about it, is that Google keeps adding more and more of these. When writing these post, I kept searching for random terms and queries to see if I can find some cool OneBox results.

Looking for yet more tips and tools to improve your search? Check out some more Google search tools you might not using so much More Free Google Search Tools You Might Not Be Using So Much Each filter and operator on Google Search is designed to be a crosshair on a scope mounted on that ‘canon’. You need to use them appropriately for the relevant search result. So, I am advancing... Read More .

Have you found a really useful one I missed? Is there one you use all the time that I didn’t mention? Share your favorite search tips in the comments.

Image credit: checklist image via Shutterstock

Related topics: Google, Google Search.

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  1. Edward Bellair
    February 25, 2013 at 12:39 am


  2. Tiziano Gregory Perugini
    February 10, 2013 at 9:26 am

    Great! Hope google is working also on shortcuts

  3. juan cervera
    February 8, 2013 at 3:25 am

    we need to get free software from google to keep our pc ready to use all these tips. ok thanks

  4. ethan
    February 7, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    You never mentioned that u can use an operator to define ANY word

    • Yaara Lancet
      February 8, 2013 at 6:58 am

      That's true. Some users have already pointed this out in the comments. Thanks. :)

  5. Nuno André Catarino
    February 7, 2013 at 12:19 am

    This is not so instant for Google users in other countries. Using the same syntax you use in Portugal we're not given the same results in some of the searches you did. For example the calculator won't open... and i guess that this is one among many search functionalities that Google hasn't already made available for all the countries. Hope they won't make me wait many longer!!!

    • Yaara Lancet
      February 7, 2013 at 5:01 pm

      Yes, that's true. In fact, it's not really available in my country either. I just use for most everything, as it has many more good features.

  6. Elizabeth
    February 6, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    But Google knows everything about everyONE too... which is really scary.

    I wouldn't doubt sooner or later you'll be able to search people's genome sequences and find out if they have a tendency towards such-and-such trait/illness. So a query like dna:"winston smith 10010" would reveal that some guy named Winston Smith in NYC has a family history of schizophrenia and "oppositional defiant disorder" (which is probably why he hates Big Brother). Gee, wasn't there some guy with a soul-patch on his upper lip who might have found an "all-seeing eye" to monitor the whole of society rather appealing...? :-O

    Google being the Orwellian know-it-all is why I use Duck Duck Go. Because the self-aware G-men even know the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything.

    • Yaara Lancet
      February 7, 2013 at 5:00 pm

      Oppositional defiant disorder! I can just see them making something like this up. :)

  7. harley bellwood
    February 6, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    There's a ton of stuff I didn't know about, thank you.

  8. Prajjwal Rao
    February 6, 2013 at 6:34 pm about the calculator part but never knew travel and flight details...thanks !!

  9. Shadow Akuma
    February 6, 2013 at 2:56 am

    I really didn't know about the movie one. Will save time for now on in the long while. Thanks for the tips.

  10. Ron Lister
    February 4, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    Yeah, I still haven't explored all google can do. Thanks for showing us a few more things, and I for one will now down load the Google tips and shortcuts. Thanks Yaara for a great article.

  11. Lynn Lock
    February 3, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    Thanks for the tips

  12. Anthony
    February 3, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    define:(some term) is another useful shortcut

    • Yaara Lancet
      February 3, 2013 at 1:43 pm

      Yes, someone already mentioned that. It is very useful. Thanks!

  13. Ash Barr
    February 2, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    There are a lot of things I wasn't aware of, thanks for showing the article

  14. Mohit Agrawal
    February 2, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Wow these points are really going to help me to get the needful but still are more hidden under google

  15. eRick
    February 2, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    Great info.Thanks for sharing !

  16. Piet Deje
    February 2, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    Wow! I didn't know that we can do so many things with google. Thanks Yaara!

  17. SaapeXD MoHods
    February 2, 2013 at 7:29 am

    Already knew most of the tricks! Didnt know the graph function! Thanks XD

  18. Curtis
    February 2, 2013 at 2:17 am

    What? No regular expressions or other such awesome trickery? Not even a mention of * to represent any number if characters or a ? to represent a single letter? There is so.much more you can do with that Google search bar!

    • Yaara Lancet
      February 2, 2013 at 10:50 am

      Those are good tips, but the article was more about extra things you can get from Google with regular searches, not about special search strings and such. That's an idea for a different article.

      Of course, there will always be things an article doesn't cover. I could write a 5000-words long feature article just on Google options. :)

  19. Dave Newsom
    February 2, 2013 at 12:05 am

    Great tips. All this time I wasn't using Google to it's potential.

  20. Walter Gilbert
    February 1, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    I don't know Google and these tips are very good. Thank you.

  21. Journcy
    February 1, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    ...Okay, that's awesome. I knew quite a few of these, but the graphing...
    It's just ridiculously excessive XD
    But amazing! XD

  22. Marianne Martin
    February 1, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    I am amazed at the interesting things that makeuseof finds to review! This is awesome and I will bookmark this! Thank you.

  23. Eric
    February 1, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    Great article! You can also search for different filetypes by entering your search word followed by filetype:.pdf All the results that come back should be .pdf, or whatever filetype you're looking for.

    • Yaara Lancet
      February 2, 2013 at 10:47 am

      Yes, that's a good one. I mentioned it here:

      Seemed more relevant to an image search, but it's a great tool in general.

    • Dwight Stegall
      February 2, 2013 at 11:05 am

      This the right way filetype:pdf

      This the wrong way filetype:.pdf

      • Eric
        February 2, 2013 at 2:31 pm

        Dwight, you're correct. Thanks for pointing that out. Yaara, it's useful not only for images, but if you're looking for a premade excel sheet, word document, and I've heard some people even use them for torrent files.

  24. Dwight Stegall
    February 1, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    All of Google's Advanced Operators on one page

    Some of them have been hard-coded into Google Web Search forms here

    • Yaara Lancet
      February 2, 2013 at 10:46 am

      Cool, thanks!

      • Dwight Stegall
        February 2, 2013 at 11:22 am

        Be careful with Google's Advanced Operators. You can use more than one at a time, but some will cancel each other out.

        Also do not leave a space after the filter. Leaving a space will give you different results if any at all.


        Right way ""

        Wrong way "site:"

        The site: operator can be used 4 different ways..

        You can use it to search a whole domain name like this. It searches every page that the GoogleBot has indexed.

        You can use it to search all of the pages in a subdomain name like this.

        You can use it to search all of the files in a subdirectory like this.

        You can use it to search a single page like this.

        • Yaara Lancet
          February 2, 2013 at 5:32 pm

          Thanks Dwight!

  25. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    February 1, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    Yes, I'm sure. I can find practically anything I want after being an *cough* avid downloader for quite a long time.

  26. Nohl Lyons
    February 1, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    You think you know somebody (Goggle) and still keep surprising you after all these years. :)

  27. Alcide
    February 1, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    The dictionary function can be forced on any word by typing "define ". I've been using it for a long while now and it's great.

    • Yaara Lancet
      February 2, 2013 at 10:45 am

      Oh, cool! Thanks for the tip!

  28. Elias Morales
    February 1, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    Excelent, very helpfull. Thanks!

  29. Sahar Alotaibi
    February 1, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    greet information.
    thank you yaara

  30. Scott Macmillan
    February 1, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    It seems that there is always something new to learn of Google and its innovations.I have become very pleased with this site and always look forward to seeing these tips.

    • Yaara Lancet
      February 2, 2013 at 10:44 am

      Awesome! :)

  31. Alexander
    February 1, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    I knew a few of them. But this is awesome :P I find it cool to know that google can do so much.

  32. gpvprasad
    February 1, 2013 at 8:57 am

    books is not yet supported in India :(

    • Yaara Lancet
      February 2, 2013 at 10:44 am

      You can see it if you use, though. It's not supported in my local domain either, but not much is. I just use for everything.

  33. salim benhouhou
    February 1, 2013 at 8:13 am

    thank you Yaara i found that i don't know how to use google . LOL

  34. Rubis Song
    February 1, 2013 at 8:05 am

    Wow! Yaara, you know what? I have just discovered that I was using Google as someone who is using a phone just for call when there is a ton of things you can do more! Isn't that great that you could also do all these things on Google? I am particularly surprised about the Google’s calculator and the possibility we have to to draw graphs. I will take some time and go over all this, but at least I know some more I can do with Google. Thanks for this article. Thumbs up!

  35. Nevzat Akkaya
    February 1, 2013 at 7:45 am

    Owww great tips for Google Search. I'm gonna bookmark this for reference. Many thanks.

  36. vineed gangadharan
    February 1, 2013 at 7:05 am

    Nice tips thanks for sharing :)