57 Useful Google Tools Scholars, Students, and Hobbyists
If you're like most people, you use Google's products several times a day to search for information or check email. Most people don't know, however, how many useful tools Google has to make research and time management much easier. Here are just a few of the products Google offers that may be worth trying whether you're a scholar, student, or hobbyist.
These Google products can make the most basic of computing tasks easy and are a must for any Google devotee.
- Reader: Reader is a Web-based news aggregator that reads Atom and RSS feeds to allows users to easily subscribe, organize and share news items. It even has a mobile version allowing you to get your news on the go.
- iGoogle: Create a custom designed home page with iGoogle. Users can choose to have their Gmail accounts, calendars, weather, news and more all integrated on one main page they can see when they open their browser. The site also offers a wide number of themes for further customization.
- Picasa: This Google program makes it easy to manage your photos online and off. Users can download a photo editing and management program to their desktops which makes it easy to mail, upload or post photos to a blog or they can use the online albums provided by the program.
- Docs: You no longer need desktop publishing applications installed on your computer to type out documents or create spreadsheets, you can do it entirely online with Google. The services allow users to create, publish, share and collaborate on their documents and presentations, and best of all, they're available on any computer with an Internet connection.
- Notebook: Research can be easier with this Web clipping application from Google. It makes it simple to clip text, images, and links from pages while researching and then save, retrieve or share the clips later.
- Desktop: Make it easy to find everything on your desktop with this application from Google. It allows users to search through their email, computer files, music, photos, chats, and web history to find what they need and also allows them to install useful gadgets to their desktops.
Maps and Travel
Make getting from place to place a snap or explore the surface of another planet with these tools.
- Ride Finder: Hook up with taxi, limousine and shuttle services through this search tool which uses GPS data from vehicles in 14 US cities. Users will access the program through Google Maps and any service that wants to participate in the program is accessible on the site.
- Transit: Those taking public transportation will appreciate this mapping tool which helps users to plan a trip via the local public transportation options by using Google Maps.
- Mars: Doing a little space exploration through these maps of Mars, created through a composite of images and data from two NASA missions to the planet. Users can see the elevation, infrared data and photos of Mars through the site.
- Sky: Those hampered by bright city lights or clouds can still enjoy looking at the night sky with this program from Google. It provides easy access to images from the Hubble telescope through the Space Telescope Science Institute, allowing users to look through planets, stars, galaxies, satellites and more.
- Earth: Travel around the world without leaving your desk with Google Earth. The program uses satellite imagery and mapping technology to allow you to find and see any location in the world through an attractive and easy to use interface. Some people have claimed the satellite pics comprimise personal security, but either way, it's a useful tool.
Web Browsing and Development
Web developers, businesses and even students can benefit from these great Google tools that make using and creating websites easier.
- SketchUp: SketchUp is a simple but effective 3D drawing tool designed for both Macs and PCs that can be a handy tool for architects, civil engineers, designers and even game developers. The program comes loaded with some innovative tools and also allows users to upload their drawings directly into GoogleEarth.
- Checkout: Designed to simplifying the process of paying for things online, Google Checkout stores customer credit card and shipping information making it easy to purchase things with the click of a button. For added security, the site also offers fraud protection and package tracking.
- Web Accelerator: Make webpages load a little faster by making use of this tool. It uses data compression, prefetching of content, and shared cached data to make even slow Internet connections less painful to use.
- FeedBurner: FeedBurner can be an easy way to manage a variety of RSS feeds but it also provides a number of tools that are incredibly useful to bloggers, podcasters and other Web developers like traffic analysis and targeted advertising.
- Web History: This feature from Google makes it easy to find search results that are most relevant to you, find sites you visited and follow trends in your Web browsing history.
- Base: This tool from Google is an online database in which any user can add content-- text, images, documents and webpages. It can be a great way to get your content out there, as if Google finds your information relevant to a search it may appear in search results, in Google Maps or on its shopping site.
- Co-Op: Co-Op allows web developers to feature specialized information in Google searches, refine and categorize search queries and create customized search engines based on Google Web Search, making it easier to find information about their pages and on them.
- App Engine: Developers can build and host websites on Google servers using this tool. At present, the site only offers limited free accounts, but in the future more fully-featured pay accounts will be opened up.
- Website Optimizer: Make sure your site is ship-shape by putting it through the paces with this Google tool. It checks your webpage, testing the content, to help you create the most effective and profitable advertising campaigns, create user-friendly interfaces, and increase overall conversions.
- Browser Sync: This tool, created by Google, allows users to sync their Firefox browser settings including passwords, bookmarks, history, tabs and open windows, to different computers via the Internet.
- Click-to-Call: This advertising systems allows customers to call companies for free, or at least at Google's expense, from search result pages. Users enter their phone number and Google calls them back, connecting them with the advertiser.
- Page Creator: This program from Google allows users to design and build webpages and then publish them to sites hosted by Google. Users are offered 100 MB of storage and the program comes with a variety of preloaded templates and layouts.
Social Networking and Communication
Keep in touch with classmates, friends, family and coworkers by using these programs offered by Google.
- Orkut: This social networking service used to be invitation only, but since 2006 has been open for anyone to join. It allows users to create an account, list information and interests and talk with and add friends to a profile. While less popular in the United States, the site is one of the biggest in both India and Brazil and can be a great way to meet people from around the world.
- Android: Android is an open source mobile phone platform that is based in the Linux OS and is in the later stages of development by Google and the Open Handset Alliance. When it is released in late 2008, it will allow users to have more control over their mobile devices and, Google hopes, encourage them to use Google products from just about everywhere.
- Send to Phone: Send yourself a message from the Web with this tool. It allows users to send text messages to their mobile phones about anything they want to remember or share from a simple Google website or through a Firefox extension.
- Shared Stuff: Google offers this free Web page sharing system that allows users to save and share pages they find interesting on the Web with others. The program can also be integrated into Facebook or del.icio.us.
- Talk: You may have heard of Google Talk but did you know that it's not only a chat tool but can be used for VoIP conversations as well? Users can make the most of the service, and enjoy its integration into their Gmail accounts.
- Dodgeball: This social networking site was created for use on mobile phones and allows users to text in their current location and get information about friends and interesting events that are nearby, as well as the ability to invite friends to come to their current location. It's currently available in 22 cities in the US.
- Friend Connect: This new feature offered by Google allows users to easily add social networking functionality to their sites. You can integrate the program with sites like Facebook and Orkut and best of all it requires no in-depth programming know-how.
- GrandCentral: GrandCentral is a VoIP service that allows customers to link several phone numbers. Users can set up the service to ring certain numbers at certain times of the day or to go through a series of numbers in order to contact them. As an added bonus, it also features a unified voice mail service. The service is currently in the beta stages and users will have to request an invite to get a number.
- Sites: Create and collaborate on shared websites with this tool from Google. Users can create a simple webpage, collect relevant information and choose who can edit and work on the project with them.
Custom Search Tools
Narrow down your search with these effective online tools.
- Scholar: Google Scholar provides a great way to through the full text of scholarly literature from all fields and formats. The index of materials gives easy search capabilities to nearly all peer-reviewed journals that appear online and has a "cited by" feature that can make is easier to find related materials and gather sources.
- Patent Search: This specialized search tool from Google allows users to search through millions of patents from 1979 to the present to see if a particular design or idea has already been claimed. Each patent results page will come complete with citations, drawings and claims from the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
- Sets: More of a fun tool than a search engine, Google Sets allows you to enter a few items of a set into a search query and the site will try to predict other items in the set. While it's right on a majority of the time, some results will undoubtedly produce a chuckle.
- Catalogs: Tired of those old catalogs piling up or filling your mailbox? Unsubscribe to them and browse through catalogs with Google instead, which has collected over 6,600 print catalogs.
- Search by Number: Did you know you can enter an area code, parcel tracking number or flight information into Google and get the information you need quickly and easily? Simply type in what you're searching for and Google will do the rest.
- Accessible Search: This search engine is designed especially to aid those who are visually impaired or blind by giving priority to sites that have been designed for usability by everyone.
- Trends: Get easy to read graphs of Web trends over time with this tool. It allows users to track searches over city, region or country to see when certain topics were of more interest to browsers. Users can also take a look at Hot Trends which displays the most popular searches over the past hour.
- Book Search: Formerly known as Google Print, this tool allows users to search through the full text of books that are scanned and stored in the Google database. Results range from entire books to short excerpts depending on arrangements with publishers and copyright issues with the materials.
- News Archive Search: Browse articles that go back over 200 years with this integrated feature of Google News. Users can find articles from sources like the New York Times, Forbes, the Wall Street Journal and more.
- Special Searches: Google offers a wide variety of special search tools that can help narrow down what you're looking for. Choose from searches that specialize in universities, the government, public service, Linux, Microsoft, Apple and more.
Miscellaneous Google Tools
These various Google tools can keep you busy for hours or make doing a wide variety of things even easier.
- Google Pack: Windows users can take advantage of this collection of software from Google and partner companies. It includes popular Google programs like Desktop, Picasa, Toolbar, Earth and Talk as well as third party applications like Firefox, Adobe Reader, Skype and StarOffice.
- Gadgets: These mini-applications can by placed on a webpage or on your iGoogle site or if you have Google Desktop to your desktop as well. They make it easy to keep track of events, to-do lists, check the weather, or even just play games.
- Pinyin IME: With an increasingly global economy, it can be useful to have tools that make it easy to communicate with those speaking other languages. This tool from Google China allows users to convert Pinyin characters that can be entered on a western style keyboard to Chinese characters.
- Image Labeler: Users can help label images for better search results with this tool that uses a game-like interface. Users compete against another player to label images, creating an enjoyable time for them and helping Google create a more accurate search database.
- Code Search: Programmers looking for help with code or open source code to use will get directed results with this specialized search tool.
- Alerts: This email notification service sends out alerts based on categories like news, web and groups. Users are alerted when new articles make in into the top ten news articles or top twenty search results for that item.
- Apps: Businesses can use Google products within their own domain names with this tool. The standard edition is free, and users can upgrade if they need more storage to use Gmail, Talk, Docs and more.
- GOOG-411: Google offers users a free 411 service when calls are made from anywhere in the United States and Canada. The service uses speech recognition to help users find a local business or service in their area.
- Google Moblizer: Make any webpage mobile friendly with this great tool. If you can't seem to get a page to display right on your PDA or iPhone, pop the URL into this tool and Google will display a stripped down, simpler version of the page that's easier to see on your mobile device.
Third Party Tools
These applications are based on Google's search technology, but allow you to do a wide variety of things more easily than with current Google-created programs.
- Simply Google: This site provides access to all of Google's specialized searches in one easy-to-use place.
- Googlematic: With this helpful tool, you'll be able to search Google using AIM or MSN Messenger.
- Goofresh: Want to know what's fresh to the Internet? This site allows you to use Google to search for sites that have been added today, yesterday or within the last week or month.
- Cooking With Google: Have some random ingredients in the fridge but aren't sure what to make with them? Maybe this Google-based tool can help. Enter in a few ingredients and it will give you recipes in several different categories.
- Babelplex: Want to search through Google in multiple languages? This tool can help you do that, acting as a cross between a search engine and a translation tool for 29 language combinations.