How to get the most out of Google search

These little-known and simple commands make finding new and relevant information on Google a breeze.

The Google search dictionary will give your vocabulary an extra boost. Screenshot by Dan Graziano/CNET

Over the past few years, Google has built a massive database, which it calls Knowledge Graph , that is designed to make its already awesome search engine even faster and easier to use. One of its most useful features, however, may also be its least well-known: if you type in the proper search phrases or words, it can show detailed information right there, without needing to click a link or go to a separate site.

Here are a few of things it can do:

1. Currency conversions. Traveling abroad? Google's got you covered. The search engine will convert any amount of U.S. currency that is inputted into the text field into dozens of international currencies. Just type in "$10" and Google returns this amount converted into euros. If you're looking for another currency, select it from the pull-down.

2. Unit conversions. Measurements aren't a problem, either. Google's Knowledge Graph can help you with those pesky conversions. The search engine can convert a wide range of measurements, including height, weight, volume, and temperature. For example, type "2mm to inches" in the search box, hit Enter, and Google will do the math. From there, you can hit the drop-down for different measurements.

3. Translations. Google can also be used as an on-the-go translator for individual words or even complete sentences. For example, type "Where is the library in Spanish," and Google will translate for you.

4. Utilities. Google search has both a built-in calculator and dictionary, along with spell-checking capabilities. These can be activated by typing an equation into the search box, using the "define" tag, or simply misspelling a word. There's also a countdown timer: just type "30 minute timer," and a countdown will start right on the screen. You can set the timer for however long you'd like, of course.

5. Local and tracking. The search engine can display local movie times, tracking information for packages, and detailed flight information. Google will automatically show local theaters and showtimes in the search results after you type in the name of a specific movie. Entering a tracking code will show you where your package is and when it will arrive. Typing in a flight name will reveal travel information, and typing "flights from" or "flights to" and a location will show upcoming departures, arrivals, and prices.

Have a friend coming in for a visit? You can track his flight right on Google. Screenshot by Dan Graziano/CNET

6. Health. Want even more? The Knowledge Graph can also deliver quick access to health information, including conditions, medications, and emergency and prevention hotlines. Type in a specific illness or medication for detailed health information; a phrase like "poison control" will automatically bring up an emergency number.

7. Dates, times, and facts. Other features include dates for holidays or other important events, the weather, the time in different locations around the world, sunrise and sunset information, and nutritional facts. Each of these can be activated with simple commands, such as typing "What day Christmas is," "The weather in New York City," "The sunrise in San Francisco," or "How much protein is in an egg?"

Google is constantly adding new features, along with other playful goodies, to its search engine. The possibilities of what you can search and what information you can quickly obtain appears to be nearly endless.

For even more detailed examples and screenshots, click on the slideshow below.

About the author

Dan Graziano is an associate editor for CNET How To. His work has appeared on BGR, Fox News, Fox Business, and Yahoo News, among other publications. When he isn't tinkering with the latest gadgets and gizmos, he can be found enjoying the sights and sounds of New York City.

 

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