Seek and you shall be rewarded. That’s the old mantra when it comes to search engines — you put in a keyword or phrase, and you get a variety of results. Today search engines can do much more than just help you locate specific Web pages or find directions. Search engines can allow you to scan news articles, view images, find videos, do some shopping, and check e-mail.
In addition to familiar favorites, there are some newer functions offered by search engines. While these are called “hidden” or “Easter eggs,” the truth is that some of these just haven’t been as highly publicized, while others are still being developed. Here is a list of some searches that you might not know about.
- Math and conversions: If the calculations you need to do are a little too complex for the calculator built in to your computer, or your math skills aren’t quite up to the task, fear not. While Google can’t quite handle math like that in A Beautiful Mind, it can tackle some reasonably complex equations. Better still, you can do some handy conversions, such as pounds to kilograms or inches to centimeters. Simply enter in what you need to know, for example, “4+14*78/12=,” and you’ll get the answer (95 if you want to check). Type in “114 inches,” and you’ll find out that it is 2.8956 meters.
- Weather forecasts: Need to know the weather and want to skip right to it? Type “weather” into Google followed by a city and/or zip code, and you’ll get current weather along with a three-day forecast and direct links to Weather.com, Accuweather.com, and Weather Underground for even more detailed information. Bing offers the same information with links to Foreca, Intellicast, and iMap Weather.
- Stock quotes: Know the stock ticker symbol for a particular company? If you do, you can type it in to Google and get stock quotes (the usual delays do apply). And if sports is more your stock in trade, you can type in a team name and get the score from the last game and information on the next upcoming game.
- Patent search: Need to do a patent search? You can do one directly from Google, where you can list a product or even look up patent numbers.
- Food, movies, and more: You can also do local searches. Enter in “Italian food 90210” to get the listings of Italian restaurants in Beverly Hills, or “movies 10019” to see what’s playing in Times Square. Just enter a search query in to the major search engines along with a zip code and you’ll get listings for appropriate businesses and services.
- Track a package: Save a step to UPS, FedEx, or even the USPS. Simply type the number in to Google and you’ll get a direct link to the appropriate site.
- Data searches: Bing uses the same basic algorithms as Google for searches, but the Microsoft engine can also pull data from various partner sites to gather statistical data with queries.
- Save your searches: Need to do research with a colleague and want to make sure you aren’t both searching for the same thing? Bing offers an option to “save and share” your searches via search history. Your searches can even be sent to colleagues by e-mail or published to Facebook.
- Limit your search to a site: Need to find a specific entry or piece of information from a particular Web site but not sure where it is? Use the “site:” option with Google to list a particular site. “Site:www.allbusiness.com iPad,” for example, will find all references to the Apple iPad on AllBusiness.com.
- Flight search: Why go to the airline site to do a search for flight status when you can go to Bing or Google and search for a particular flight? Just enter in the airline name and flight number to get flight status along with a gate number.