Bet You Didn’t Know Your Search Engine Could Do All This: 10 Cool Shortcuts

APRIL 2012: Do you want to know the temperature in Beijing? Your flight status? The answer to 5*17/3(6-3)+18?

Just type your question directly into your search engine!

Here’s how it works. For many types of simple questions, Google, Bing and Yahoo! deliver the actual answers on top of their search results — no need to click on another link.

Hop on these shortcuts to save some time:

1. Math —  Google, Yahoo! and Bing are calculators. Get your answer instantly by typing in your equation using these symbols: +, -, * (multiplication), / (division), % of, and ^ (to the power of). Note: Google and Bing can handle more complicated equations.

2. Time — Get the correct time for any city or zip code in the world. Just enter time city, as in time Atlanta. This works on all three major engines.

3. Weather — Same shortcut as above: weather city. Or just type in the word weather for the city that you’re in and tada — your computer knows where you are!

4. Movies — Find out which movies are playing and when. On all three browsers, type in: movies zip code.

5. Package Tracking — Skip navigating to the carrier’s site. In Google, just type in the tracking number for FedEx or UPS.

6. Stock quotes — What’s it trading at right now? Find out with Google by simply entering the symbol, and with Bing by entering stock:symbol.

7. Flight status — Type in: carrier flight number, as in Delta 1457. Google and Bing give you immediate results, and Yahoo!’s first result takes you to the Flightaware website.

8. Definitions — Just tell any of the search engines what to define, like define:frog.

9. Sports scores — Key in the name of your favorite team on Bing or Yahoo.

10. Conversions — Type the whole question into the search engine: How many miles is 500 kilometers? How many teaspoons in a gallon? For currency conversions, Google instantly answers “How many euros in a dollar?” while for Bing and Yahoo! you need to enter euro:dollar.

Soon you’ll also be able to ask Google detailed or obscure questions, like “What’s the chemical formula for white glue?” Or, “How many emperors were in the Ming Dynasty?”*  The next generation technology is called semantic search and it will make search results more relevant to users like you. It may frustrate web masters, however, by interfering with current webpage rankings, SEO strategies and other search science.

*Answers: (C4H6O2)n and 16