Living in the shadow of Gmail, Reader and Calendar's got to be tough, but that's what a slew of useful Google products do every day. We give Google's front-running applications a lot of ink (or pixels, as it were), and the rest a passing mention in the fast-flowing river of news. Today's top 10 pays homage to the little brother and sister Google products that you forgot all about.
10. Google Code Search
Mostly of interest only to programmers, Google Code Search is a pretty incredible mechanism for finding and browsing the innards of countless open source projects. Use the
lang: operator to limit your results to a certain language, and search by developer name, file name, or comments. Here's a search for the words "nasty hack" in PHP code—
9. Google Base
Easily publish and find recipes, classifieds, vacation rentals and job listings at Google Base, a no-web site way to get data online and into Google's search results. What's great about Base is that it offers data type-specific search operators. For example, you can search recipes by ingredient, or vacation rentals by location and features like how many bedrooms, and what type of property it is (cabin, cottage, hotel, villa, house, etc.)
8. Google Trends
Compare the "world's interest" in certain words and topics at Google Trends, which charts the number of times a word or phrase appeared on the web over time. Great for checking out the history of popular neologisms and brand names (like iPhone or lifehacker), you can also pit terms against one another. You can see from the image above that the phrase "getting things done" has been around a lot longer than the word "lifehacker." (Pit GTD vs lifehacker at Google Trends.)
7. Google Alerts
Make your web search results come to you with Google Alerts, email notifications of new web pages search terms pop up on as the Googlebot discovers them. Google Alerts automatically hands me Lifehacker story ideas every morning, and it's also great to ego search your own name, web site title or product name, too. To get results for several term searches in one alert, separate them with a pipe (|) or combine terms with AND, like
wildfire AND "San Diego".
6. Google Book SearchRemember those rectangular objects that you used to read by turning a page from one side to the other? Ah, those were the days. You can still get your books online at Google Book Search, whose book-scanning elves add to the digital library all the time. Flip through pages of the books scanned into Book Search, and add books to your personal virtual library as well. Along those same lines, academics won't want to forget about Google Scholar for searching papers, theses, abstracts and articles, from academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories, universities and other scholarly organizations.
5. Google Page CreatorWhen Aunt Martha and Uncle Skip ask how to set up a web page? Point 'em to Google Page Creator, a totally web-based, WYSIWYG web site creation tool that hosts up to 100MB of files for free.
4. Google Notebook
We all find snippets of web pages, quotes, and images all over the web we want to copy to a personal library, and Google Notebook is a powerful way to do just that. Whether you're researching a particular project, capturing ideas as you come across them online, or Getting Things Done, Notebook (especially coupled with its companion Firefox extension) is a powerful, useful tool.
3. Flight Simulator in Google EarthOk, so Google doesn't make a flight simulator, but they do hide one in the latest version of Google Earth. Download Google Earth 4.2 , and to enter flight sim mode, hit Ctrl+Alt+A (Mac users: Cmd+Opt+A), choose your plane, airport and runway. Google Earth's flight simulator isn't a walk in the park for newbs, so here's more info on how to take off and navigate the friendly, virtual skies .
2. Keyboard Shortcuts Experimental Web SearchHidden deep in the bowels of Google Labs is the Keyboard Shortcuts flavor of web search, which takes your mouse out of web search entirely. Once you're using Keyboard Shortcuts search (just add "&esrch=BetaShortcuts" to your Google URLs), use J and K to move up and down a search results list. Open a link using O or the Enter key; bring your cursor to the search box using / (forward slash), and Esc to get out of the search box. Here, install the keyboard shortcuts version of Google search into Firefox or IE7's built-in search box for easy access.
1. SketchUpFree 3-D modeling program Google SketchUp lets anyone virtually architect their dream house, remodeled kitchen, office, spaceship or skyscraper. Download Google SketchUp for free, for Mac or PC.
This was a tough list to winnow down, as Google's full product list is long and prodigious. In fact, we're still having regrets about leaving Patent Search, Google Moon, and Google Mars off the list. What's your top lower-profile Google app? Shout it out in the comments.