Everyone knows Google the company is much more than just a search engine. But even its search engine is more than just a search engine. The classic clean Google search page is but a facade that hides dozens of tricks and surprises that range from useful to silly and right back around again.
Here are some phrases to enter into the search engine that let you get a glimpse of the playfulness (and usefulness) built into the classic Google search engine. So open up Google.com right now, and start entering these in.
1. Do a barrel roll
Type this one in and watch what happens. Neat, huh? Why it happens is another question. This phrase comes from the Nintendo video game series Star Fox, in which one of the vulpine hero’s crew members instructs him on how to nimbly avoid incoming fire. In the game, you press the Z button twice. On Google, you simply enter the phrase and search for it.
If you do much Googling, you’re probably familiar with Google Doodles, artistic renderings that replace the company’s logo on anniversaries of important things. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Pac-Man in 2010, the Google logo actually became a playable version of the classic arcade game. Search Google for “pac-man” now, and you’ll find that version of the game as the first result.
3. Google in 1998
Plug in this phrase, and you’ll be warped back through time to the early days of the now-ubiquitous search company. Things may have been much simpler then, but the logo was also much uglier.
4. Zerg rush
Googling this phrase wreaks havoc on standard search page we all know and love. In case you’re not a PC gamer, the phrase is based on a combat maneuver in the video game series Starcraft. As you might infer from the effect on the Google page, a Zerg rush is when a herd of alien creatures surges forward on enemy troops. You don’t want to be on the receiving end of it.
Googling this is vaguely unsettling, because it gives you the sense that something is a little off. That’s because it is.
6. 5 + 5
In addition to being a search engine, Google is also a fully-functional calculator. Type in any math problem you need to solve, and it’ll give you the answer. The onscreen calculator that pops up can help you solve any other numerical head-scratchers you might have.
7. 10 minute timer
Calculators are great, but Google has more useful tools up its sleeve. If you need an alarm to go off, just type in the amount of time and the word “timer,” and leave the tab open. Your computer will chime when time’s up. Need a stopwatch instead? One is built right into the timer. Handy stuff.
8. Site:cheatsheet.com google tricks
This one is a little geekier, but it’s useful for whenever you want to limit your search results to a single website. Just type “site:” and then the website you want to search. Then put a space and type your search phrase. Boom: instant results limited to a single domain.