7 Little-Known Google Tools That Will Make Your Life a Lot Easier

The cool Google tools you didn't even know about until now

Google on a phone

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Practically everyone knows that Google is the world's largest search engine. In fact, most people who own a computer or a mobile device are pretty familiar with other popular Google products and services too, such as YouTube, Gmail, Android, Google Home, and more.

It turns out that when it comes to Google, the tech giant has a lot of different products. Over the past two decades of its short life span, Google has created over 250 products and services.

While using that many tools is probably overkill, it's always worth looking into the ones that could really help solve problems you regularly have, save time you'd rather not waste or accomplish something more creatively and efficiently.

Here are some Google tools that most people don't talk about much, but they would be extremely handy to use in a wide range of situations.

01
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Take Notes and Make Lists the Smart Way: Google Keep

Google Keep

Google

What We Like

  • Cross platform on phones, tablets, and computers.

  • Great for perpetual grocery lists.

  • Shareable with family and friends.

  • Voice note capability.

What We Don't Like

  • Can't format text with bold, italic, or underlining.

  • No notebook-style organization in the app.

  • The desktop experience, which is browser-based, isn't as good as the app experience.

Google Keep is a beautifully designed, visual note-taking app that can help you keep all your notes, to-do lists, reminders, images, and all sorts of other tidbits of information organized and easy to view. The card-like interface makes it super intuitive to use, so you can customize it any way you want by adding labels and colors.

Need to record some audio for a reminder? Or have a shopping list that you and your family members need to access and edit as you pick things up? Google Keep lets you do it all. You might just find that it's one of the most useful note-taking apps out there.

02
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Easily Create Surveys, Quizzes, Registration Forms and More: Google Forms

Google Forms

Google

What We Like

  • Surveys and forms can include images and videos.

  • Responses are collected and organized automatically.

  • Curated themes.

What We Don't Like

  • Browser-based only. No mobile or desktop app.

  • Internet connection required.

  • Few customization options.

Many people are already very familiar with Google Docs, Google Sheets and even Google Slides in Google Drive, but do you know about Google Forms? It's just one other amazing tool that's somewhat hidden beneath all the others, which you can access in your Google Drive account by clicking the More option whenever you go to create a new type of file.

Google Forms makes it ridiculously easy to create surveys, questionnaires, multiple choice quizzes, subscription forms, event registration forms and more that you can share via a sharable Google link or embed anywhere on a website. You also get to see the information you collect in an organized analytics format that allows you to get close up to the details and a bigger picture glimpse of your responses.

03
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Video Chat With Friends and Relatives: Google Duo

Google Duo

Google

What We Like

  • Works on Android and iOS phones and tablets.

  • Leave video messages with one tap.

  • Provides high-quality video calls even to people with low speed or limited bandwidth connections.

What We Don't Like

  • Call recipient must be registered with Duo.

  • No way to reject a call with a message.

  • Can't accept a call without video.

One of the most frustrating things about video messaging apps is that there are too many that require a certain device or an and corresponding user account. Want to FaceTime with someone? You're out of luck if the person you want to FaceTime with doesn't have an iPhone! Love Snapchat's video call feature? Good luck video chatting with your mom if you have to first instruct her on how to create a Snapchat account.

Google Duo is a simple one-to-one video calling app that just requires a phone number to get started and access to your contacts to see who else is using Google Duo. Tap a contact name to instantly call them. The app uses Wi-Fi or your data plan to bring video to the forefront on its super simple, super intuitive interface so you can talk and see each other face to face in real time.

04
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Make Payments More Painless: Google Pay

Google Wallet

Google

What We Like

  • Substitutes card numbers with virtual ones for security.

  • Supported by major banks, credit cards, and PayPal.

  • Stores boarding passes, event tickets, gift cards, and loyalty programs.

What We Don't Like

  • Doesn't work with magnetic strip credit card readers.

  • Isn't as widely used as Apple Pay or Samsung Pay.

When it comes to shopping online, sending money to someone, or receiving money from someone, it helps to keep the process as simple and easy as possible. Google Pay (formerly Google Wallet) works with any debit or credit card, allowing you to securely send money online (even via your mobile devices through the official app for iOS) to someone just by knowing their email address or phone number. You can also request money through Google Wallet and have it automatically transferred to your bank account.

Google Pay can help take the pain out of splitting restaurant bills, pitching in with others to buy a gift, planning a group trip, and much more. If you use Gmail, you can attach money using Google Pau to pay for something via an email message.

05
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Embrace Your Inner Astronomer: Google Sky

A screenshot of Google.com.

 Google

What We Like

  • Sky is also supported by Google Earth.

  • Imagery is taken from several of the world's largest ground- and space-based astronomical surveys.

  • Full-screen view supported.

What We Don't Like

  • Not updated frequently.

  • No dedicated mobile apps offered.

You might already know about Google Maps, but did you know that Google lets you explore outer space too? Google Sky is like Maps for space — allowing you to navigate NASA satellite imagery in a similar way by clicking and dragging your mouse around the screen and zooming in or out.

You can use it to view the positions of the planets and constellations and at different wavelengths like Infrared, Microwave or Historical. Use the menu at the bottom to discover more about space and read the pop-up box descriptions to educate yourself on what you're looking at.

06
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Find Out What People Are Searching For: Google Trends

A screenshot of Google.com.

Google

What We Like

  • Access to valuable related queries.

  • Advanced tools for conducting in-depth analyses.

  • Subscriptions to trend analyses are offered.

What We Don't Like

  • Data can be confusing or misleading depending on how you use it.

  • No dedicated mobile apps offered.

If you run a website or a blog, knowing what people are searching for can help you rank in search naturally and get more targeted, free traffic. Google Trends is a powerful search tool that helps you see which search terms are trending right now by region. You can even conduct analyses on several search terms and compared them.

One of the smartest ways to use Google Trends is by researching terms according to seasonal activity or annual events. If you can use existing data from previous seasons or years to support the trending searches of a particular term, you can bet that it will happen again, and when it does, you'll be ready!

07
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Shop From Your Favorite Stores and Get Fast Delivery: Google Express

A screenshot of Google.com.

Google

What We Like

  • Fast and free shipping for most purchases.

  • A great way to shop from several different stores.

  • Great interface with ability to read product descriptions and user reviews.

What We Don't Like

  • Available only in the continental United States.

  • Doesn't offer options as broad as Amazon in some categories.

Online shopping is only becoming more popular. Google Express is a platform that connects you to all your favorite stores where you can shop for groceries, electronics, health and beauty products and so much more. As if that weren't good enough, you can get same-day delivery for many of your purchases and free shipping if you meet the per-store minimum purchase amount (about $25 to $35).

You can browse by category, shop by store, build your shopping list, track your orders, set up quick reorders and so much more with Google Express. Partners include stores like Target, Walmart, Best Buy, Home Depot, Sephora, PetSmart and many other well-known stores you already love.