How to 'Ninja Search' Using Google

Woman searching on Google website using iPad tablet computer

 Iain Masterton / Getty Images

 We all know how to Google, right? Well, here are some simple search tricks to make that search more productive and more awesome. You can find a lot of things without having to actually leave the Google search page or visit another website. 

Remember, in most cases you do not need to capitalize words for Google. The other thing to keep in mind is that generally you should not put quotes around these search terms unless you're searching the web for only things that contain that exact search phrase. We do it here sometimes for clarity, but if you're following along in a new tab, remove the quotes unless the instructions specify that they're necessary. 

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Google Is an Awesome Calculator

Do you find yourself using a calculator app on your desktop a lot? You could just be using Google. You can search for a wide variety of math problems, and you don't need to use rigid symbols to do it. Searching for 5+5 works just as well as searching for "five plus five." It even works when you mix words and symbols up, so long as it's an actual equation. In this example, I searched for "square root of 234324 times four." 

The other thing to notice is that once you do a calculator search, that calculator app is still up there. You can use it to do more calculations.

If you're feeling even more math-y, try asking for graphs:

graph y=2x


The graphs don't give you the same calculator app, but they do tend to be interactive. 

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Define: Something

Want to find the dictionary meaning of a word without searching for a dictionary and then searching in the dictionary? A quick Google hack is to use the "define" syntax.  

define: your-mystery-word

If you don't want to go further than that, you've got your definition covered. If you need more of a nuanced definition or more than one source, click on the downward pointing arrow. Depending on the word, you'll see etymology information, trends on how frequently the word is used, and an option to translate the word into another language. And, of course, clicking on the little speaker tells you how the word is pronounced. 

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Convert Measurements and Currencies

Did you want to know how many gallons are in a pint or how many U.S. Dollars in a Euro? Just ask Google. Just like with the calculator app, you've got a lot of leeway to find things that convert to other things, so long as you search in a way that would make sense as an equation, so "5 dollars in pounds" pulls up a conversion of five U.S. Dollars in British Pounds Sterling. 

You could have meant a different dollar — Canadian or Australian, for example, but Google takes a guess that you want the most commonly searched for type in your geographic area. If Google guessed wrong in this case, just be more specific in your next search. As with many other apps, the results are usually interactive and let you perform more calculations. 

Simply use the regular search box and search for starting currency in desired currency. For example, to find out how much the Canadian dollar is worth in U.S. dollars today, I'd type in:

The calculator graphic appears at the top of the screen along with the answer in bold type. This is because currency conversion is part of Google's hidden calculator.

Remember, you don't need to capitalize things in Google searches.


Google is amazingly forgiving with the way you phrase things.

You can type "one Canadian dollar in American dollars," "CAN in USD," or "Canadian money in US money" and get exactly the same results.

You can specify small change for most currencies, such as U.S. cents. You can also ask for conversions of more or less than one unit, such as "fifty US cents in Yen" or ".5 USD in British pounds."

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Check the Weather

 Check the weather. This is a pretty simple immediate forecast. Search for weather: zip-code or weather: city, state. You can also just type "weather" into the search box and get a local forecast for wherever your computer is. 

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Movie Showtimes

 Want to find out what movies are playing without having to go to each theater's website to check showtimes? It's as easy as the weather search. Search for movies: zip-code or movies: city, state if you want to find movies in a specific location, but if you just want to find the movies that are near wherever you are, just type "movies" in the search box, and you'll see what's playing at a glance. 

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Stock Quotes

Want a quick stock quote? It's as easy as typing in "stock" and either the name of the company or their symbol. If you want more detail, click on the small links directly underneath the information box to go to the financial sites supplying the quote information. 

You'll see a quick stock quote with links to various financial news sources for more information.

Google will only give you a stock quote with this trick if you type the exact symbol, not the name of the company.

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Get a Quick Map

 If you just want a quick map and don't necessarily want to look at Google Maps, you can type "map name-of-city" and, depending on the city, you'll see an information box with a little map. This is a finicky feature since there are so many names of places that are duplicated in other states and countries, so sometimes you'll need to provide more information. If you do want a full Google Maps experience, just click on the information box. 

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Get a Bacon Number

What, really? Yes. If you want a quick check to see how many degrees of separation a famous person has from Kevin Bacon, you can just search for: "bacon number of [celebrity]" Similarly searching for "what is the bacon number of" will usually get the same results. 

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Find Images

 If you want to find images, you can go to Google Image Search, of course, but you can also do that search from within the main Google search page by searching for "image of" and the item. Click on any image that you like, and you'll open it up in Google Image Search. 

One thing to note is that this search for images of the Eiffel Tower also pulled up a bonus box. When you search for a specific location, you'll often get a "place page" with information like reviews, maps, and images. 

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Video Search

 Want cat videos? You don't need to go to YouTube to search. If you search for "video [search-term]" you'll find a list of videos as your first several hits. There's a subtle horizontal line showing you where the embedded video search ends and the standard Google search engine results begin. 

These are just a few examples of quick searches you can make without having to leave the main search engine.