In the 15 years since it was founded in a San Francisco suburb, Google,
Inc.'s universe of products has grown to include everything from smartphones to
mass transit to fiber optics. At its core, however, the company is all about
answering questions. A lot of them.
According to company statistics, Google processes about 1 billion search queries a day from users in 181 countries. After improving the user experience, "solving search problems" is Google's top priority, according to its mission statement: "Ten Things We Know to Be True."
Despite its deceptively austere design, Google's engine has hidden tools built in to help savvy users find what they need directly from the search bar.
Generally speaking, Google understands queries written as actual questions -- "How do I find ..." or "How much is ..." -- and will intelligently focus on only the relevant words in a query. If a search doesn't bring back the desired results, try simplifying. For example, try searching for "Weather St. Louis" instead of "How warm is it in St. Louis?"
Here are 10 ways Google can get the information you need with a minimum of fuss.
1. How do I get to Orlando, Fla.?
--What Google can do: Show a miniature map with the distance and travel time between locations without navigating to Google Maps, Mapquest or another travel site.
--How to ask: Type "directions" followed by "[starting address] to [destination address]."
--Example: "Directions 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C., to 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey, England."
--Need more? Click the turn arrow next to the map to bring up a Google Maps page with detailed, turn-by-turn navigation, real-time traffic data and alternative directions for pedestrians or mass transit.
2. How can I find information from the FBI about UFOs?
--What Google can do: Filter searches to display information from a specific type of site, such as commercial (.com), educational institutions (.edu) or government agencies (.gov).
--How to ask: Enter "search topic" followed by "site:.gov," "site:.edu," etc.
--Example: "UFO site:--.gov"
--Need more? If you want to be even more specific and search within only a single site, such as limiting returns to Washington Post articles, type: "Topic site:www.washingtonpost.com."
3. What's the weather like in Nashville?
--What Google can do: Display current weather conditions, local time and a seven-day forecast for any city in the world using returns from The Weather Channel, Weather Underground and AccuWeather.
--How to ask: Type "weather" followed by the city name.
--Example(s): "Weather Death Valley California" or "weather Miami Florida."
--Need more? Weather returns default to temperature but additional data, including precipitation forecasts and wind speed, also can be accessed from within the search return box.
4. What is 2 plus 2?
--What Google can do: Solve simple and complex equations entered directly in the search bar.
--How to ask: Google interprets mathematical symbols and words the same way, so type your question however feels natural, and the search engine will figure out what you mean.
--Example(s): "Square root of eighty six," "pi times 8" or "98 / 4."
--Need more? If one computation isn't enough, the results are displayed above a
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