A week or so ago, I wrote about Google Keep, my latest new Google favorite tool. I‘ve always been a fan of the Googles. Google Earth. Docs. Maps. Tour Builder. Drive. This week, Keep. And, yes, my favorite Google tools do change weekly. That’s because there’s just too much Google goodness going on for me to keep up. 

You might be the same way. You enjoy Google apps and tools but there’s so much. I spent some time last Thursday at the 2015 MACE conference, talking with teachers about Chromebook tips and tricks. And it was awesome. But I begin to notice a common theme.

Everyone had a different tip. A different trick. Some teachers know about the cool way to create a timer in Google Search. Others know that how to take screenshots on a Chromebook. Someone else shared how to add images to a Google form. But we can unintentionally get in a rut and not realize that there are some sweet little tips out there.

Of course, a quick Google search reveals more than enough lists to get you started. Some of my favorite tips?

URL Shortener
When you use Google stuff, you begin to realize that the URLs for that stuff can be incredibly long. As in this kinda long:

The easy answer is to use Google’s URL shortener. Go to:

Yup. That’s the address. Trust me. Then copy and paste the very long URL into the box, confirm that you’re not a robot, and you get a neat little web address that’s easy to share. (If you are a robot, then, well . . . you’ve got your own set of problems and have no need for Google’s URL shortener.) The new URL will look something like this:


If you’re logged in to your Google account, they’ll keep a history of all the URLs that you’ve shortened. You can also create a QR code by clicking the small “Details” link that is just below your newly created URL. The same Details button will appear in the list of past URLs you’ve created. Pretty slick.

goo.gl qr code

Google Timer
Need a quick classroom timer to keep track of groups, discussions, debates? Simple go to Google Search and type in “timer 5 minutes.” Or whatever amount of time you want. The first search result will be a timer with start, stop, reset, alarm, and full screen options. Simple. Clean. Free. You’re welcome.

Other Google Search tips:

As social studies teachers and students, we deal with a lot of facts. Of course, our kids need the foundational knowledge to do the sort of historical thinking we want to do. To help you and kids find the basics, you can often search for exactly what you need. Your search might include dates such as date battle of gettysburg or stonewall jackson death, stats such as how many deaths gettysburg or little round top elevation. Stuff like population and demographics is easy – population gettysburg 1863 and size army of the potomac gettysburg. You get the idea. Basically anything that involves numbers or specifics can often be found by simply telling Google what you want.

Add the phrase intitle: to your search term will produce results with that term in the title of the webpage. Think of scanning a library by just browsing the spines of the books on the shelves. Want a book that focuses just on the Battle of Gettysburg? Find a book that is titled “Battle of Gettysburg.” Google Search does the same thing with websites.

battle of gettysburg search

You can do a similar sort of search and look for specific types of files that are posted online. Need a PDF or Powerpoint on a specific topic? Start by typing filetype:ppt or filetype:pdf or filetype:whatever plus your other keywords and you’ll end up with a ton of resources. That Battle of Gettysburg? Maybe you need some ideas for a presentation or handout. This is a great way to start your planning. (And I’m all for having kids do the same thing. But you might need this trick to check on whether your students are doing the same thing with their final products rather than just the planning stages.)

You can also use the site: keyword search specific domain types such as .org and .edu. Want just higher ed sites? Start your keyword search with site:edu and then the rest of your keywords. Your results will be only those from colleges and universities. Try combining this tool with the filetype option for something like this: site:edu filetype:doc “battle of gettysburg” for a very specific and useful search.

site battle of gettysburg

You can find a list of all of the different Google search options on their Google help page. Want to know how the NSA is using Google to find stuff such secret Russian password? Type filetype:xls site:ru login. Get more super secret spy searches here. (Ignore all of the black helicopters that will, for some reason, begin spending time over your school.)

And if you’re a Chrome browser user, you can simply say OK Google followed by your keywords to do a voice search. Bone up on the over 60 commands you can use to get quick information to become a super searcher.

Tomorrow? Part Duex. My favorite Google Drive and YouTube tips and tricks.