Google Search Shortcuts To Hone Your Google-Fu

Google isn’t just a way to find web sites any more. Many queries lead to “OneBox” results that provide useful data right on the search screen. Some are well-known, others less so. These are our favourite Google OneBox tricks for quickly accessing helpful information.

Even if you’ve never encountered the OneBox label before, chances are you’ve seen a OneBox result. If Google provides information in bold at the top of your search query or offers up an interactive tool to help you refine your search, that’s a OneBox. This is different to search operators that you can put in your query to help you narrow your search (such as adding to a query to restrict it to a particular domain).

It’s also technically distinct from the more recently introduced Knowledge Graph, which provides detailed information on the right-hand side of your screen. That said, the distinction between the different types of Google-generated results is arguably more important to Google itself than to users. If there’s a handy query that will find you information directly from Google, we’ll tell you about it here.

With OneBox results you can quickly find the weather in any country, peek at a musician’s discography or perform calculations. You can find the information you’re searching for almost instantly, and you’ll look like the smartest person in the room. OneBox results also work on mobile devices, and in some cases offer more data than the desktop version.


Find Artist Discographies And Filmographies

Want to take a quick look at a musician’s discography? Or maybe just a list of all the films from a particular director or actor? Just type “[artist] [movies or albums]” into the search box and you get a scrollable carousel of their work. (This feature has only just been introduced into Australia.)


Find Release Dates

Want to know when a game or movie is getting released? Type “[name of movie or game] release date“. You need to exercise a little caution with this feature; with movies, for instance, it often shows the date of the premiere rather than the Australian cinema release date. (That’s the case right now if you look for The Hobbit, for example.)


Find Current Movie Show Times

To quickly find movie show times in your area, type “[name of movie] [location]” into the search box and you get results for theatres close to you. If you don’t have a particular movie in mind, you can also just type “movie [location]” and get a list of everything playing in your area. If Google knows your location you can just type “movie”. (Unlike the US, using a post code doesn’t work for this feature in Australia.)


Find Simple Factual Information

Any search that requires a numeric answer will often appear directly in a OneBox. Options include dates like “[name of famous person] death“, geographical information such as “[mountain] elevation“, or population data: “[city] population“.


Get A Five Day Weather Forecast

Need to get a quick weather report before you head off on holidays? Search “weather [city name]” for a five day forecast.


Find The Current Time In Any City

Time zone conversions can be a pain, but thankfully Google does them for you. Search “time [city name]” and you get the current time in that location. For a country-wide view, type in “time [country name]” to get a full list of the time zones in that country. You can also find the time of sunrise or sunset by typing “sunrise [city name]” or “sunset [city name]“.


Find Upcoming Dates For Holidays And Events

Wondering what day Christmas is, or when a big event starts? Search for [year] [holiday name or event title] to get the details.


Calculate Almost Anything

You’ve long been able to type sums into Google and get answers, but the recent addition of a graphical calculator interface offers even more options. “5+2” works just fine, but you can also use more advanced phrases like “cos(pi) + 4“. If you want a graph, simply add “graph” before the equation. You can also search for “calculator” to bring up the calculator directly.


Convert Units of Measurement

Unit conversions are handy when you’re cooking or building just about anything. The search in Google is easy. Type “[number] [unit] into [unit].” For instance, you can convert Celsius into Fahrenheit like this: “35 C into F” It works with any type of measurement, including digital storage (“5 MB into KB“). If you need to bring up the unit converter directly, you can do so by searching unit converter.


Convert Currency

Need to get an up-to-date currency conversion? Google is one of your best choices, and it’s as simple as typing “[number] [currency] to [currency]”. For instance, to get the conversion rate of Australian dollars into Yen, type “1 aud to yen.”


Check Stock Prices

When you need to check the current price of a stock, search Google for the shortened stock name. For example, to find Qantas’s current price, search “QAN“.


Find Word Definitions, Synonyms And Pronunciation

If you want to quickly find the definition, synonyms or pronunciation of a word, all you do is type the word into the search box. For many words, Google will automatically pull up a quick definition, pronunciation and a list of common synonyms. If it doesn’t, type “define” before the word.


Translate Words Instantly

Google Translate is great for translating large chunks of text. You can translate single words right from the search bar by typing “translate [word] into [language].” For instance, to translate “monster” from English to Spanish, type “translate monster into spanish“. You can also translate simple sentences: “translate the monster ate my neighbour into spanish” will result in “el monstruo se comió mi vecino”.


Hunt Down Information On Local Restaurants

Looking for a new restaurant to check out in your area? Type in “[type of restaurant] [city name]” and you’ll get a list of nearby restaurants, including review scores.

Track The Status Of Any Flight

You don’t have to dig around on an airline’s web site to track the status of a flight. Type “[airline] [flight number]” into Google and you get instant results from Flight Stats.


Google regularly adds new OneBox search tricks, and we do our best to cover them on Lifehacker. Know of other options we haven’t included? We’re all ears in the comments.

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