The New York Times’ David Pogue interviewed Google executives for the program CBS News Sunday Morning. According to Pogue, Google is expected to go public this spring with the highest valuation in high-tech history — $25 billion.
But, more importantly, along the way Pogue asked Google execs and staff to name their favorite Google tips and tricks.
• Download and install the Google toolbar. Not only does it put the Google search box into your browser full-time, but it also blocks pop-up ads and fills in forms for you. For Windows at http://toolbar.google.com. (Ad blocking, form-filling and Google’s search box are already built into the Apple’s Web browser, Safari.)
• Phrase your question in the form of an answer. “After all, you’re not looking for Web pages that ask your question,” explains director of technology Craig Silverstein. “You’re looking for pages that answer it.”
So instead of typing, “What is the average rainfall in the Amazon basin?”, you might get better results by typing “The average rainfall in the Amazon basin is.”
• This is an old one, but very important: Put quotes around phrases that must be searched together. If you put quotes around “electric curtains,” Google won’t waste your time finding one set of Web pages containing the word “electric” and another set containing the word “curtains.”
• Similarly, put a hyphen right before any word you want screened out. If you’re looking up dolphins, for example, you’ll have to wade through a million Miami Dolphins pages unless you search for “dolphins -Miami.”
• Google is a global White Pages and Yellow Pages. Search for “phonebook:home depot norwalk, ct,” Google instantly produces the address and phone number of the Norwalk Home Depot. This works with names (“phonebook:robert jones las vegas, NV”) as well as businesses.
Don’t put any space after “phonebook.” And in all of the following examples, don’t type the quotes I’m showing you here.
• Google is a package tracker. Type a FedEx or UPS package number (just the digits); when you click Search, Google offers a link to its tracking information.
• Google is a calculator. Type in an equation (“32+2345*3-234=”). Click Search to see the answer.
• Google is a units-of-measurement converter. Type “teaspoons in a gallon,” for example, or “centimeters in a foot.” Click Search to see the answer.
• Google is a stock ticker. Type in AAPL or MSFT, for example, to see a link to the current Apple or Microsoft stock price, graphs, financial news and so on.
• Google is an atlas. Type in an area code, like 212, to see a Mapquest map of the area.
• Google is Wal-Mart’s computer. Type in a UPC bar code number, such as “036000250015,” to see the description of the product you’ve just “scanned in.” (Thanks to the Google Blog, http://google.blogspace.com, for this tip and the next couple.)
• Google is an aviation buff. Type in a flight number like “United 22” for a link to a map of that flight’s progress in the air. Or type in the tail number you see on an airplane for the full registration form for that plane.
• Google is the Department of Motor Vehicles. Type in a VIN (vehicle identification number, which is etched onto a plate, usually on the door frame, of every car), like “JH4NA1157MT001832,” to find out the car’s year, make and model.
• For hours of rainy-day entertainment, visit http://labs.google.com. Here, you’ll find links to new, half-finished Google experiments-like Google Voice, in which you call (650) 623-6706, speak the words you want to search for and then open your browser to view the results. Disclaimer: It wasn’t working when I tried it. (Ditto a lot of these experiments.)
• Poke around the “Services & Tools” link on the Google.com home page and you’ll find some of the better-known lesser-known Google features, if that makes any sense.
For example, there’s Froogle (product search), News, Groups (Internet discussion boards), Google Catalogs (hundreds of scanned-in product catalogs), Images (find graphics and photos from other people’s Web sites), Blogger (publish your own online journal), Google language translation, Google Answers (pay a couple of bucks to have a professional researcher find the answers for you) and much more.