25 Ways to Use Google (That You've Never Heard Of)

What do planet Earth, Madonna and Google all have in common? They are constantly evolving. Unlike the Earth and Madonna however, Google's technology can really facilitate success. These services will allow you to streamline your productivity and be on the forefront of technology — all the while putting you ahead of the curve in professional and personal spheres. Here are 25 of the best, most obscure Google programs that you've never heard of...


Google Gadgets

Universal Search Gadget (http://www.google.com/ig/directory?url=googlewidgets.net/search/search.xml.php)

If you think running a Google search is enough, guess again. There is a Google widget called “Universal Search” that performs a collective search on Wikipedia.com, Dictionary.com, YouTube.com, Amazon.com, Ebay.com, iTunes and many other sites.

Document to PDF Gadget (http://www.google.com/ig/directory?synd=open&q=Document+to+PDF+Gadget)

Know why Google has never spent a penny on advertising? Because ideas like the “Document to PDF Gadget” are so inventive that the Google products speak for themselves. This gadget allows users to convert online web pages or documents stored on your hard drive into PDFs in just a few steps. Upload the document or enter the URL and shzamm — a PDF (http://2tech.org/2009/09/how-to-convert-document-to-pdf-just-in-second/)!

Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus (http://www.google.com/ig/directory?synd=open&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.visualthesaurus.com%2Fwidgets%2Fxsearch.xml)

For all you stumped writers out there, Google’s widget, “Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus” is for you. With this application, users have the ability to search for a keyword. This is not your typical search, however. Synonyms drawn from a 145,000-word database appear in the widget in a map-like form, giving the users a great visual to pick the word they were looking for.

IMO.im Chat Aggregator (https://imo.im/)

Want to talk to your best friend, manager and clients all at the same time through multiple instant messaging programs? Google’s Imo.im widget will surrender every qualm in this area. This gadget works as a chat aggregator, allowing instant messaging services such as AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo Instant Messenger, ICQ, Myspace Messenger, Facebook Messenger, and Skype all in the same feed. The service is free and requires no user-registration or sign-up.


Streamlined Google Search Functions

Google Social Search (http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/10/introducing-google-social-search-i.html)

Still in its infancy (the application was announced October 26, 2009), the Google Social Search function takes internet searching to a new level by filtering through the internet to see what your social connections are saying about searched topics. The first step is to create a Google profile, where you can add links to various social networking services. From there, Google uses meta-data to find what your first-tier and extended social circles are saying about the searched topic by pulling information from your social network all in one place.

Google Calculator (http://www.google.com/landing/searchtips/#calculator)

As a self-professed techie, this Google function is even new to me! The search bar of the Google homepage you can serve as a built-in calculator by simply enter the calculation you'd like done into the search box, then click “enter.” For multiplication use “*”, division “/”, addition “+” and subtraction use “-“. What’s the advantage of this program? Users don’t need to navigate through any website other than Google.

Google Flight Tracker (http://www.google.com/landing/searchtips/#flighttracker)

Another slick search tip is the Google Flight Tracker, where you can see the flight status for any domestic flight. All you have to do is type in the name of the airline (or an abbreviation of the carrier) and the flight number into the Google search bar, then Google will tell you if the flight is on time or delayed, and gives detailed time of when the flight took off and will land if you are going to pick up a loved one from the airport.

Google Package Tracker (http://www.google.com/landing/searchtips/#packagetracking)

Google functions as a one-stop internet shop – even for package tracking. The package location will appear right below the Google search bar after you type in the tracking number for your UPS, FedEx or USPS package.

Google Fill in the Blank (http://www.google.com/landing/searchtips/#fillintheblank)

I know I am not the only one that struggles for words or facts sometimes. Google is able to fill the void by the “Fill in the Blank” function where by adding an asterisk (*) at the part of the sentence or question that you want finished into the Google search box.


Google Templates

In the past few months, Google has opened up its database of thousands of templates — from resumes to business proposals; and budget spreadsheets and service invoices — all offered to streamline web users efficiency. Here are some of the most unique and helpful templates:

Life Checklist Template (http://docs.google.com/previewtemplate?id=0Aqko7Xi-nxN1dEJWY2VYdjlCdGY2eWdJNUdZdW9hX3c&mode=public)

Sure you see grocery lists and daily to-do lists, but this template allows you to take list building to a new level. The Google template “Life Checklist” allows users to document any and every life goal — as it relates to skills, experience, career goals, finance and relationships — then cross them off as you do them.

Job Interviewing One-Sheeter (https://docs.google.com/previewtemplate?id=0Aako7Xi-nxN1ZGc0OHpqNXpfMTBmc2Q2aDZnZg&mode=public)

Google has once again provided tips to encourage professional success with this template — “Job Interview One-Sheeter.” Developed by Jenny Blake, LifeAfterCollege.org contributor, this template serves as a guidebook for your next interview by outlining nine of the most commonly asked questions. The template can be used as personal “Cliff Notes” for your strengths, goals, work-style, ideas, weaknesses and challenges you've overcome.

Simple Budget Planner (http://docs.google.com/previewtemplate?id=0As3tAuweYU9QcHlVM3hrY2tocEkyakswaFIwdldyRFE&mode=public)

Track your living and leisure expenses with this automatic budget planner. Starting from your monthly income, this budget planner creates algorithms that show the recommended spending amounts for common categories.

Resume Templates (http://googledocs.blogspot.com/2009/10/spotlight-great-public-templates-in.html)

In a day where hundreds of applicants fight for a face-to-face interview, it’s important that your resume is a showstopper. Google once again has your back, as it offers dozens of resume templates that allow you to organize your core competencies, work experience and educational background. Here is my favorite example (http://docs.google.com/previewtemplate?id=0AQ1tTk-hkwjdZGQ4bm45N21fMTEyZzZtODVmeGo&mode=public).

Project Management Schedule (http://docs.google.com/previewtemplate?id=0As3tAuweYU9QcHlVM3hrY2tocEkwaDJhS0JPUzA1WUE&mode=public)

Whether you’re a group project leader for a college course or an entrepreneur trying to keep tabs on a specific task, this template is super handy for getting your project off the ground and keeping a beat. With useful columns like project status, start date, owner, difficulty and notes, this template allows project managers to maximize productivity and organization.

Google Tournament (http://docs.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=142595)

Attention sports aficionados: Google has the perfect program for you. Google Tournament is a Google document that allows sports lovers to input and track NCAA Division I Basketball Championship games. This template allows users to create their own brackets then view your predictions evaluated in real time as results from the games are returned.

Google Translations

For all you foreign language lovers and bilingual bookies, this Google document feature is for you. Google recently announced two functions to Google spreadsheets that add translation and language detection functions. The first field should be the text you want to translate, the second is the two letter language code of the text you want to translate — and the third column will show the automated translation. If you having a hard time understanding how the spreadsheet works, follow this link.


Googlezation: Organization and Planning Through Google

Google Voice (https://www.google.com/accounts/ServiceLogin?passive=true&service=grandcentral)

Google Voice recently launched last spring to help web users manage their voice communications. Google Voice can make automated transcripts of your voicemail and can host your sent and received SMS text messages. You can also use the service to make affordable international calls and easily access Goog-411 directory assistance.

Google Calendar (http://www.google.com/calendar/)

Google Calendar is a FREE service (are you seeing the trend here) that allows web users to organize their tasks, appointments and dates into one conglomerated tool. From color coding your schedule, to syncing your calendar to a mobile device, Google Calendar is an obscure tool provided by Google that promotes efficiency and organization. Mashable offers a great tips on how to effectively use G-Cals here.

Google City Tours (http://citytours.googlelabs.com/)

Google’s calculatingly keen engineers have created a new Google Maps application called Google City Tours. The service helps Google users identify points of interest and plan multi-day trips to most major metropolitan areas. Specify the destination and the length of the vacation and Google will map out an itinerary for you (with around 10 automated activity suggestions per day). The program even provides suggested timetables and times walking distances between attractions. Still a little uncertain of how this Google application works? Take a virtual look at a San Francisco City Tour here.


Gmail Fun

Google Mute (http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=47787)

Ever find yourself between an email chain of hundreds of pointless comments? Well Gmail has created a nifty trick to mute those annoying conversations. The Google Mute option is available in Gmail's standard interface simply by using the ‘m’ shortcut key. New messages added to the conversation bypass your inbox so that the conversation stays archived.

Google Video Chat (http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=100173)

From within Gmail, you can have an actual conversation with someone (seriously, out loud), or even chat face to face over video. Google Video Chat, which launched in early 2009, allows web users to video chat right from Gmail and iGoogle. The service provides high quality audio and video. All you need is a webcam. Find out more on this cool Gmail function here.


Other Miscellanous Google Programs

Google Base (http://googlebase.blogspot.com/)

Google Base is a glorified Craigslist — and is a great under–used tool for entrepreneurs. It serves as a place where you can add all types of information — like classified ads, current events, products, real estate and recipes — to make content searchable online. Based on the relevance of the submitted products, they may also be included in the main Google search index and other Google products.

Google Picasa (http://picasa.google.com/#utm_campaign=en&utm_source=en-ha-na-us-bk&utm_medium=ha&utm_term=google%20picasa)

The blend of the name of famed artist Pablo Picasso and the phrase mi casa for “my house” and pictures is Picasa, another sweet Google program. Picasa is a free photo editing software system that allows users to upload, edit and share photos in just a few clicks.

Google Sketch Up (http://sketchup.google.com/#utm_campaign=en&utm_source=en-ha-na-us-google&utm_medium=ha&utm_term=sketchup%20tutorials)

Design your dream house, a lamp or living room all by yourself... for FREE! There's no limit to what you can create with SketchUp, a 3D modeling and designing program hosted by Google. The program is modeled to be easier to use than any other CAD program–plus, it doesn’t have the hefty price tag of comparable design programs.

Google Music (http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/10/making-search-more-musical.html#links)

According to Google, one out of every 10 online searches is music related. Google has finally taken strides to get in tune with internet connoisseurs with Google Music. Type in any song, artist or lyrics, and at the top of the Google search you can preview (and purchase) the songs that appear in the search. Now you can find music on Google as quickly as iTunes.

External links provided on Rasmussen.edu are for reference only. Rasmussen College does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced.

Allie Gray writes for the Rasmussen College blog. She frequently contributes articles related to business and management, and general interest stories. Allie received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Minnesota.

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