5 Great Google Shortcuts

By Allison Dolan Premium

Unless you’re among the handful of family historians who’ve never used the Internet, we bet you’ve searched for genealogy information on Google. And you’ve probably hit pay dirt: Ancestral facts buried on obscure Web pages can’t hide from Google’s powerful search spiders.

But searching isn’t Google’s only strength: The site is packed with other features that can enhance your family history research—ones you might not even know exist. For example, Google incorporates syntaxes that let you instantly look up useful facts and figures, making it a mega reference tool as well as a search engine. A few options useful for genealogy:

  • Dictionary: Wondering what it means if your ancestor died intestate? Type define:intestate to learn that means he didn’t leave a will.
  • Calculator: Simply enter an equation into the search box, using * to multiply and / to divide. If your great-grandfather’s property was 450×160 feet, input 450*160= to get the square footage of 72,000.
  • Unit conversion: This works for various height, weight and mass measurements. Enter 72000 sq ft in acres to learn Great-grandpa owned 1.6 acres of land.
  • Currency conversion: How much will that record request from the British national archives cost you in dollars? Just type 10 british pounds in us dollars—you can even abbreviate as 10 gpb in usd—to find out the fee is $18.26.
  • Area codes: You’ve located a phone number for a possible distant cousin, but you aren’t sure where she lives. Enter the area code 240 to discover she resides in western Maryland.

You’ll find many more features, from spell check to stock quotes (hey, we didn’t say they were all genealogically helpful), at