It’s hard to imagine what the internet would be like without Google. The search engine certainly wasn’t the first, but it beat competing offerings like AskJeeves, Yahoo, and Bing to become the biggest after appearing online in 1998, and has since become so common that the phrase “Google it” has become synonymous. with web search regardless of your chosen platform.
On its own success, the search engine has since spawned a dedicated web browser, cell phones, smart home systems, and a range of online productivity tools, and there are still plenty of fun secrets to uncover if you know where to look.
We’ve covered a few in our list of the top 5 things you can do with google maps already, but that just surfaced. While some of these lesser-known features are actually useful, others are little more than a funny gimmick to keep us entertained, so read on to find out what tricks you can achieve with Google and the Google Chrome operating system.
1. Check for Dangerous Malware
If you use Google Chrome as your dedicated web browser, you sometimes notice that the performance is a bit slow, or that you accidentally clicked on some suspicious links. Just to put your mind at ease, Chrome actually has its own built-in malware scanner that you can use to clean up any nasty stuff on your system.
To find it, simply open your Chrome browser and go to Settings by selecting the drop-down menu in the top right corner of the webpage. From there, find the Advanced section on the left and click on “Reset and Clean” which will open up a section with two new options.
Selecting “Clean up your computer” checks your system for malicious software and you can choose not to send Google a digital report of the findings if you want to send your system data to large companies.
2. Find really cheap flights
Okay, so the flight option isn’t really hidden, but it feels a bit neglected. Many of us have a favorite website or service that promises to find cheap flights, such as: Expedia† kayak or Skyscannerbut if you’re feeling adventurous (or just want to escape reality for a while), Google Flights might be a better option for you.
Just go to the ‘Explore’ tab on Google Flights and enter the airport or city you want to depart from. Leave the destination blank, then select from one of the departure and return dates boxes. This allows you to switch from specific dates to flexible dates where you can either select an entire month as the search box, or even a time frame such as a week-long return trip within the next six months.
You need to have that flexibility, but the results of this search will give you the cheapest possible flights to multiple destinations, which should give you some options that may have been out of your budget before.
You can even add additional filters to your search, with options for direct or non-direct flights, specific airlines, how much luggage you take, set price limits and even prioritize locations based on activities you want to try, such as skiing, museums visit or relax on the beach.
3. Reverse Image Search
It can be very frustrating when you find an uncredited image that you need some extra information about. Maybe a model or influencer snapped wearing shoes you want to buy yourself, or you want to find the original artist on an illustration without a watermark.
Fortunately, this allows Google to save you some time and frustration by allowing you to search using that image, which then not only gives a kick every time the exact same image is posted elsewhere online, but also similar images if it doesn’t yield many results. In Google Images, select the camera icon in the search bar and two options will appear, one to search using an image URL and another to directly upload an image to search from your system.
Personally, I found this feature especially useful for finding the original source for images and finding the name of things like perfumes and vintage accessories that would otherwise have left me searching for vague phrases like “old heart-shaped designer lipstick” by hand. usually to mixed success.
You can also use this as a security feature if you believe your images are being used online, or if you suspect that the person you are chatting with on a dating site is catfishing you using someone else’s photos. What a time to be alive.
4. Play video and audio files
I miss the old-school Windows media player like the best of us, but I doubt it would get much attention these days now that the Google web browser can play all my media for me. If you have any audio or video files you want to watch, just drag them directly to a new tab in Google Chrome and they will start playing in that window.
It’s kind of basic, so you won’t be using this to make edits or major changes to your files, but it’s simple and easy to use if you just need something that can play, rewind, and adjust the volume without a special medium open player.
5. Take you back in time
This is of no practical use at all, but it is certainly interesting and a little nostalgic for those of us who can remember the internet from the late 1990s. Open the Google search engine and type “Google in 1998” and instead of loading a new page of search results, the whole window will change to what Google’s front page looked like when it was first launched.
This is great for a bit of fun, but sadly a bit disappointing when you realize that the page will revert to its modern form if you select anything on the page (despite a special button that says ‘take me back to the present” ). It would be great if Google could use some archived search results from the late 90s to explore to make the feature last a little longer.
The tech giant has come a long way in the past 23 years, and there are significantly more than just five less-loved features that could use some extra recognition. No doubt Google is currently developing more fun and usability that we may stumble upon in the years to come, but there is plenty to deal with. If you’re bored, try typing phrases like “do a ton roll” or “askew” for a few extra minutes of mindless entertainment – thanks Google.