The world's largest search site has much more than simple searching.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983


Tips on using Google, Part 1

Jan. 23, 2011

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2011, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2011, The Post-Standard

   Google is like an iceberg. The really big stuff is below the surface.
   You might already know that Google does more than ordinary searches. It's got a great image search, too, for example. And it has Google mail, called Gmail.
   But the world's largest search site has much more. This week and next we'll take a look at Google's lesser known services. The week after that we'll explore 10 Google search tips that can help you search faster and better.
   All of Google's extra offerings are listed as links on two of Google's pages. The most popular extra services are shown as links on the main Google page, at the upper left. They are Images, Videos, Maps, News, Shopping and Gmail.
   Google Image locates pictures, of course. For a general search, type the subject or name of photos you're looking for and click "Search Images." Unless your search term is too unwieldy, Google will show you a page or more of thumbnails. Hovering your mouse over a thumbnail reveals a larger, pop-out version of the image, with information on the name of the image and its size in pixels. Click on the thumbnail to open a separate view of the image.
   After you click on the thumbnail, it will open with a webpage behind it, showing part of the source page for the image. Google also shows the webpage address at the right. Click the "X" close button on the image to view the entire web page.
   Pictures you find on web pages are fair game for personal use. You can usually drag them out onto your desktop and then move them to your Pictures folder or anywhere else. But you cannot legally make money off pictures you get from the web or claim them as your own. (Others might disagree that web photos are OK to use personally -- as desktop wallpaper, for example -- but I see no harm in that.)
   Normally, Google Images will not show X-rated photos or other pictures of a questionable nature, using a feature called Safe Search. You can turn this off or fine-tune it by clicking "Advanced Image Search" on the main Image Search page. You can also specify whether you want to see pictures of a certain size or type.
   Google Videos looks throughout the web for videos matching your search terms. You might already use YouTube for this, but Google's Video search is far more extensive. As with image searching, you can choose to turn off Safe Search. You can collect videos by downloading them, but you'll need a helper site or program to grab the video and convert it to a standard format such as MP4 or WMV. Search Google for "download videos" for tips on this.
   Google Maps will show you a map -- in standard form, a satellite view or a combination of both -- of just about any location or country worldwide. (Some jurisdictions force Google to blot out images.) "Get Directions" asks for starting and ending points, then shows a route. You're also shown driving times and miles.
   Google News categorizes reports from online newspapers and other sources. It's handy for quick summaries and useful if you need to read competing reports.
   Next week: Google Shopping, Scholar, Reader and more.