Rights & Money

The Hidden Features of Google Search

Calculator, currency converter, translator—you can access these and other tools straight from your search bar

By Matt Smith


Google can do more than simply help you search the web. You can access a number of handy (and largely unknown) tools either from the Google homepage or through the address bar of your browser (as long as Google is set as your default search engine). Here are some examples:

Simply type in the time you want—say, “three minutes”—followed by the word “timer” and you’ll start seeing the seconds count down the second you hit “Enter.”

Tip calculator
A search for “tip calculator” will bring up this handy tool in your browser. Enter the total of the dinner bill, the percentage of the tip you want to leave, and the number of people in your party, and the calculator will tell you how much each person should contribute plus the total cost for each (assuming you’re splitting the bill evenly).

You can also use the search bar as a simple calculator, simply by writing out the equation. Note that an asterisk (*) is used for the multiplication sign and a forward slash (/) for division.

Need to translate a word or phrase quickly? Simply type it into Google and add the word “translate” anywhere in the query. More advanced settings are available at translate.google.com.

Check flight status
Type the name of the airline and the flight number into the search bar and you’ll find a graphic giving you arrival and departure information—not only times but the gate numbers, as well!

Search by site
You can confine your search to just one website by typing “site:” and the site name (for example, “site:goodtimes.ca”) before your search query.

Convert units and currency
Just type your terms using the format “X in Y” (for example, “4 gallons in liters”) and you’ll have the answer in an instant.

Check the weather
Quickly pull up an eight-day weather forecast for your local area by searching for “weather.” You can specify a different location by adding its name to the search.

Check the traffic
Avoid road congestion by searching for “traffic” to find an up-to-date traffic map of your local area.

Find your phone
You can locate a misplaced Android phone directly from the search bar. Just sign into your Google Account and do a search for “find my phone.” You’ll be shown its approximate location on a map, and have the option to call it as well—it’ll ring even if it’s on silent. If you’ve truly lost your phone, you can also lock it or erase all its contents to foil would-be identity thieves.

Photo: iStock/bigtunaonline.