To help you get a grip on Google, our Google Services Quick Reference will highlight the many Google-branded services and provide links and references for each.
In 1996, Google started out as a research project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two Ph.D. students at Stanford University. In 1998, Page and Brin while continuing to perfect their technology bought a terabyte of disks at bargain prices and built their own computer housings in Page’s dorm room, which became Google’s first data center. In 1999, the beta logo came off the Google Web site. Since then Google has expanded its search technology into blogging, mapping, shopping, research and more. In fact, Google now has so many services it’s hard to keep them straight. To help you get a grip on Google, our Google Services Quick Reference will highlight the many Google-branded services and provide links and references for each.
Google Search, Search Services, and Applications
Through its brief history, Google has focused on developing the “perfect search engine” by combining overall importance and query-specific relevance to present search results. Google offers a host of Web search services you can access through the main search page. For example, to use the calculator you simply type your math question into the Google search box, or for dictionary listings simply type “definition” in the search box before the search term there is no need to load a separate search page. Google also provides quick links to different types of searches directly from the main Google search engine page, or you can access them by clicking “more” on the main search page.
- Book Search: Search the full text of books
- Catalogs: Browse online catalogs
- Calculator: Google has a built in calculator function. To compute enter the calculation into the Google search box and hit the Enter key
- Currency Conversion: Google has a built-in currency converter. To convert, enter the conversion you’d like done into the Google search box and hit “Enter”. For example you could use “100 USD in CAD” or “Canadian money in American dollar”.
- Definitions: To see a definition for a word or phrase, simply type the word “define,” then a space, and then the word(s) you want defined.
- File Types: Google Search automatically searches 12 non-HTML file types and provides an option to view as HTML. The file types appear in Google search results
- Froogle: Google’s product search (Shopping) service
- Groups: Search results from Google Groups may appear at the bottom of your relevant search results page.
- I’m Feeling Lucky: Skip the Google search results page and go to the first Web page returned for your query.
- Images: Google Image Search shows images matching your search query.
- Local Search: Search the Web for businesses in a specific area by including a city or zip code in your search and Google.
- Movies: To find reviews and show times for movies playing near you, type “movies”, “showtimes” or the name of a current film into the Google search box.
- Music Search: Enter the name of an artist popular in the U.S. and reviews, song titles, and more is shown at the top of the search results.
- News Headlines: These links connect you to reports culled from numerous news services that Google continuously monitors.
- PhoneBook: U.S. street address and phone number lookup publicly listed phone numbers and addresses
- Refine Search: For searches within certain topics, you’ll notice links at the top of the search results page that help you narrow the search.
- Results Prefetching: On some searches, Google automatically instructs your browser to start downloading the top search result before you click on it so the destination page loads faster.
- Search By Number: Parcel tracking IDs, patents and other specialized numbers can be entered into Google’s search box for quick access to information about them.
- Similar Pages Display: The “Similar Pages” sends Google to scout the Web for pages that are related to the result.
- Site Search Restrict: Type the word site” followed by a colon enables you to restrict your search to a specific site. For example “memory site:webopedia.com” would search only Webopedia.com
- Spell Checker: Google’s spell checking software automatically looks at your query and checks to see if you are using the most common version of a word’s spelling, and may offer spelling suggestions.
- Stock Quotes: Enter a stock of mutual fund symbol in the search box to obtain fund quotes
- Street Maps: Use a U.S. street address with Zip or City and state to search. When recognized links are returned from Google Maps
- Travel Information: Use an airport’s three letter code followed by the word “airport” to obtain delay and weather condition information.
- Weather Check: Type “weather,” followed by the location to obtain weather information
- Who Links To You?: The query link:siteURL shows you pages that point to that URL. For example link:www.webopedia.com will show all Web sites linking to Webopedia.
List available on the Google Web Search features page.
Google code offers quick access to Google APIs and open source code for developers.Current offerings include Google Maps API, Google Webmaster Tools, Google Web Toolkit, Google AJAX Search API, Google Gadgets, Google Desktop SDK, Google KML, Google Toolbar API, AdWords API, Google Data APIs, Google Checkout API, and Google Talk XMPP. Google also provides a Google Code FAQ.
Google Co-op is a platform that let you customize Web searches for Google users and users on your own Web site. You can create a custom engine, where you specify the Web site URLs to be included in the search, and also use this to place a person Web site search box on your own Web site.
Nicknamed “Google’s Technology Playground,” Google Labs provides access to some of Google’s beta and in-development projects. You can try the prototypes and then send your comments on the product or service directly to Google developers. Some of the current prototypes available include Google Extensions for Firefox, Google Related Links, Google page Creator, Google Scholar, Web Alerts and more.
If you have a Google account, visit Google.com while signed in and you can personalize your Google Web page with news headlines, games, stock quotes, different Web site search boxes, a Gmail preview window and more. You can also create tabs allowing you to organize your feeds – one for work and one for play for example.
Accessible Search is an early Google Labs product designed to identify and prioritize search results that are more easily usable by blind and visually impaired users.
Similar to Google search this search allows you to look for your search term within blogs only. Results are from all published Blogs, not just those published through Blogger.
Smart shopping through Froogle helps you find and compare product prices both online and in nearby stores. With Froogle you can sort search results by price, search within a specific price range, or compare product prices. To use the local shopping feature, simply add a geographical region to your search (e.g., Dell Inspirion, New York, NY) and you’ll see stores near your search location. You can also view a map or get driving directions.
Google AdWords provides a way to purchase targeted cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-impression (CPM) advertising. AdWords ads are displayed along with organic search results on Google, as well as on search and content sites within the Google Network (including Google Maps and Blogger). To use AdWords you pay a one-time activation fee, and after that you pay only for clicks on your keyword-targeted AdWords ads, or for impressions on your site-targeted ads. You can control your costs by selecting how much you’re willing to pay per click or per impression and by setting a daily budget for spending in your account.
Google Maps is mapping technology and local business information including business locations, contact information and driving directions. Google Maps offers users business search results, draggable maps, satellite images, detailed driving directions and keyboard shortcuts to move around in a map view.
Google Scholar provides a way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, abstracts and articles, from academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories, universities and other scholarly organizations.
Google’s special searches allows you to narrow down search results to a specific topic. Current Google Special Searches include a public service search university search, U.S. Government, Linux, BSD, Apple Macintosh, and Microsoft.
Communicate Online with Google Products
Short for Web log, a blog is a Web page that serves as a publicly accessible personal journal for an individual. Typically updated daily, blogs often reflect the personality of the author. Blogger is an easy-to-use Web site that allows you to quickly and easily post thoughts, interact with people, and more. This is a free Google service.
- Visit Blogger
A free online tool that makes it easy to create and publish Web pages in minutes. Google Page Creator is a Google Labs project, and requires a login with your Gmail account to begin making pages.
- Visit Page Creator
One of the first Google products, Gmail offers another option for Webmail. Webmail is software run by an ISP or online service that provides access to send, receive and review e-mail using only your Web browser. Users can enter the Webmail Web site URL in their browser’s address or location field, and use their Webmail account by typing in a username and password. Google’s Gmail is a beta service, but many users have found it easy to get accepted or referred by someone else already using Gmail. Gmail comes with built-in Google search technology and more than 2,600 megabytes of storage (and growing every day). There are no pop-ups or untargeted banner ads in Gmail, only small text ads. Gmail also integrates instant messaging into the e-mail through Google Talk and integrates with Google calendar as well.
Google’s free talk client offers a way to communicate over the Internet using instant messaging, e-mail (using Gmail), or by voice. To use all three communication methods using Talk, you need an Internet connection, a microphone, and a speaker. Without the voice talk, you can still use Talk as an IM client.
Google Groups is service that allows groups of people to communicate through e-mail and the Web. Each Google group has a home page hosted by Google where members can start new discussions or reply to older topics. Google Groups also allows you to easily create your own announcement lists, mailing lists and public discussions.
Free Software and Google Mobile Services
One of the most recent additions to Google products is the Google Calendar. This service is designed to allow users to organize daily, monthly and yearly events and also share calendars with other people (co-workers or family members). If you use Gmail, you can also send events directly from e-mail to your calendar.
Google Desktop is a desktop search application that provides full text search over your e-mail, files, music, photos, chats, Gmail, Web pages that you’ve viewed and more. The latest version of Desktop also includes Google gadgets interactive mini-applications that can be anything from games to search tools to media players, and they can be any shape and size. You can also create your own gadgets in addition to using the ready-made ones.
Picasa is a free software download from Google that helps to instantly find, edit and share all the pictures on your computer. It also offers easy to use one-click editing tools and options.
Google pack is a selection of free software for your desktop PC. This pack contains a selection of Google software that includes Google Earth, Picasa, Google Pack Screensaver, Google Desktop, Google Toolbar. Additional software includes Mozilla Firefox with Google Toolbar, Norton Antivirus 2005 Special Edition, Ad-Aware SE Personal, and Adobe Reader 7. The optional software list includes Google Talk, RealPlayer, Google Video Player and GalleryPlayer HD Images.
- Visit Google Pack
Google Docs & Spreadsheets
Google Docs & Spreadsheets provides an online editor to format documents, spell-check and more. You can upload Word documents, OpenOffice, RTF, HTML or text, and then download documents to your desktop as Word, PDF and more. Other features enable you to view your documents’ revision history and roll back to any version.
Mobile is a Google service that allows mobile users to search the Web, search images, or search the mobile Web (made up of sites that are specifically designed to fit your phone screen). Google also offers several products via mobile services, which includes Maps for mobile devices (view maps and get directions on your phone) and SMS(text messaging).
Internet Explorer 7 optimized for Google
This customized Google edition of Internet Explorer 7 offers you a Google home page to personalize, the Google Toolbar, and also sets Google as your default search engine.
For a complete list of all products and services offered by Google, you can visit the “More Google Products” page of Google’s Web site.
Based in Nova Scotia, Vangie Beal is has been writing about technology for more than a decade. She is a frequent contributor to EcommerceGuide and managing editor at Webopedia. You can tweet her online @AuroraGG.
This article was originally published on December 22, 2006