At first Google was just a search engine; then it started to get funny, at least to those of us in digital marketing land. Now, Google tricks, or “Easter Eggs,” lurk behind every Google search. The right keywords or an “I’m Feeling Lucky” search will often lead you to odd and awesome Google jokes.
People keep asking “who wrote this?” We did: Portent. We’re a digital marketing agency in Seattle. So yeah, we wrote it as an attention-getter. But it’s still great stuff, right?
And Google Easter Eggs aren’t just in Search, you can also find Google’s hidden treasures in Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, Google Translate, interactive Google Doodles, and more. Google’s April Fool’s Day pranks and jokes have become the spotlight of their humor, but many of these gems can be found year-round.
We’ve compiled this exhaustive list of all the cool Google tricks we could find. Try a few out.
10/15/12 Update: The Google logo has been getting intense lately. Check out the new Star Trek and Little Nemo in Slumberland doodles. They are interactive and awesome.
8/8/12 Update: Added some great interactive Google Doodles from the Olympics. Hurdles and basketball have never been more fun!
7/18/12 Update: Just learned that you can make Google Maps 3D by pressing T.
6/25/12 Update: The new Zerg Rush easter egg needed to be added into this guide. We also added a few recent Google Doodles.
5/23/12 Update: We’ve added Google’s Moog Synthesizer and Earth Day Doodles to the Great Google Doodles list below.
14 Google Search Easter Eggs
While watching the world surf through their website, Google has sneaked their sense of humor into a handful of search queries. Google the phrases in bold for surprising results.
- Use Google’s in-search graph creation to draw a heart. Tell your secret crush to Google this equation: sqrt(cos(x))*cos(300x)+sqrt(abs(x))-0.7)*(4-x*x)^0.01, sqrt(6-x^2), -sqrt(6-x^2) from -4.5 to 4.5
- do a barrel roll — Watch your screen spin out of control for a moment after searching, a reference to the classic Nintendo game Star Fox 64. You can also search for “Z or R twice” to the same effect (mimicking the action on a Nintendo controller).
- tilt — Make your search results page do just that. “Askew” also produces the same slanted results.
- zerg rush — Never before has it been necessary to fight for your search results. But this Google page has adopted the gameplay of the popular online game Starcraft. Searching “zerg rush” will send a never-ending fleet of Google O’s to destroy your page.
But don’t give up so easily! You can defend your search results by clicking on the O’s to destroy them. You’re also prompted to share your score on Google+
- recursion — This search is met with the suggestion, “Did you mean: recursion?” If that isn’t funny to you, then you should probably Google “recursion” and find out what it means.
- the answer to life, the universe and everything — Google nods at the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy book series by giving the author Douglas Adam’s answer to the life, the universe and everything.
- once in a blue moon — Google guides you to the mathematical equation for the occurrence of a blue moon.
- anagram — Google asks, “Did you mean: nag a ram?” Good one!
- the loneliest number — Google comes up with the same answer as the 1969 song made famous by Three Dog Night.
- binary — First and foremost, Google is a collection of computer nerds. Of course a search for “binary” gets you the number of results in zeros and ones (You must be logged out of Google for this to work). This also works for the numeral systems octal and hexadecimal.
- the number of horns on a unicorn — You can probably guess this one.
- a baker’s dozen — Google figured this one out, too.
- kerning — Kerning is the typography process of adjusting the spacing between letters on a page, and a Google search does just that for the word kerning in all of the results.
- qingming — Google’s results page for the Chinese word meaning “pure brightness” is a beautiful tribute to the annual Qingming Festival in China, celebrating the spring.
16 Google April Fool’s Day Jokes
In 2012, Google humor was out in full swing for April Fool’s Day, flooding its products with jokes and pranks.
- Chrome Multitask — Google is prepared to double your productivity. One mouse used to be enough, but no longer.
- Gmail Tap — Google is replacing the 26-character keyboard on mobile phones with just two buttons. It’s much more efficient… sort of. LL Cool J lends his expertise as Google’s Gmail Tap Product Lead.
- The YouTube Collection — The Internet is so big, you can never see it all. Google-owned YouTube announced that they’re changing that, offering a DVD collection of every video on YouTube.
- Really Advanced Search — Google’s Advanced Search can help you specific exact words and phrases to search for. Google’s Really Advanced Search gives you even more options, including searching by rhyming slang, subtext, or innuendo.
- Google Racing — Anyone who has seen one of Google’s computer-driven cars wandering the country on behalf of Google Maps has wondered just how good of drivers those computers are. Just turn on your next NASCAR event.
- Google Voice for Pets — It’s tough to be away from your pets. Now, you can keep in touch with them wherever you go.
- Click-to-Teleport — Ads in Google Search might send you to the website of your favorite sushi restaurant, but Google’s taking it one step further. Cut out the middle man, and just teleport to your dinner reservation with Click-to-Teleport.
- Google Fiber — Google wants to improve every aspect of life, including your diet. Pick up a Google Fiber bar today. It’s “fiberlicious.”
- Google Street Roo — Google needed some help mapping the Australian outback, but a team of over a thousand kangaroos is now solving that problem.
- Jargon-Bot — If you’re confused by complicated work-jargon, Jargon-Bot may be the program you’re looking for.
- Interplanetary Reporting — Users of Google Analytics, the site user tracking program, can now discover which users are visiting their site from Earth, or another popular planet with Interplanetary Reporting.
- Go Ro — Google wants their ads to be optimized for all users, so the nearly dozens of Internet users with rotary phones will be benefitting from the new service. Like Google says, “Technology is cyclical,” and rotary phones are on their way back.
- Google TV Click — You decide how your favorite TV shows and movies end. Use this special remote to helicopter support to the cast of the 300, or shoot Jar Jar Binks the first time he appears on the screen. You might be waiting for this feature for a long time, however, as it’s set to be released on April 31st (a hard to find day).
- Canine Staffing Team — It’s tough to get a job at Google. Unless you’re an adorable and highly-skilled puppy, that is.
- Google Search in China — There is no Google Search in China, so this peculiar and fun search page acts as a placeholder. Try to search using it.
21 More Google April Fool’s Day Jokes
Yes, what started as one little joke on April 1st in 2000 has become an annual Google event. Trust nothing when visiting Google on April Fools’ Day. Here are some of the best from over the years:
- MentalPlex — Google’s first April Fools’ joke in 2000 introduced the first mind-reading search engine, analyzing your “personal aura and brainwave activity” to give you great search results.
- Pigeon Rank — Those familiar with Google’s PageRank had a good laugh in 2002 when Google released this explanation of Google’s revolutionary system of “pecking order.”
- Google’s Moon Base — In 2004, Google presented the online community with an amazing opportunity to work at the new Google Copernicus Center. One qualification is that the applicant must be willing to relocate, considering that the new office is located on the Moon.
- Google Romance — To prove their algorithm really can do it all, Google unveiled Soulmate Search, letting users trust in Google to find their perfect soulmate.
- Google Gulp — In an attempt to monopolize the beverage market along with the internet, Google Gulp, the world’s first “smart drink” was unveiled.
- Gmail Paper — Tired of email? Gmail will now print out all of your emails and send them to you. Don’t worry about the environment, the paper is made out of “96% post-consumer organic soybean sputum, and thus, actually helps the environment.”
- Gmail Custom Time — “Be on time, every time” with Gmail Custom Time, the new service that lets you send emails to the past so you never miss a deadline again.
- Google Books Scratch-and-Sniff — Don’t you wish our senses were more in tune with each other? Google helped solve this problem by offering scratch-and-sniff books.
- Google TiSP — In 2007, Google offered a new service for internet users who didn’t want to pay for their internet connection: free wireless service. All you have to do is hook it up… to your toilet.
- Google Talk goes green — On April Fools’ Day in 2008, Google prepped internet users for the upcoming Earth Day, requesting that anyone chatting online use Internet slang to reduce the CO2 emissions that are released with each instant message.
- gBall — Australian Football got a lot more advanced when Google released the gBall, a computer chip-containing, vibrating football that gives you kicking tips and suggestions as you play.
- The Virgle Mars Colony — Google teamed up with Virgin to create the plan for Virgle, the first permanent human colony on Mars. Take the questionnaire to determine if you can be a Virgle Pioneer.
- Gmail Autopilot — Responding to emails is a pain, that’s why Google introduced Autopilot for Gmail. Now the complex program can respond to your emails for you. You’ll notice it’s not perfected yet.
- Meow Me Now — Google Maps can find anything, including adorable kittens. Use Meow Me Now at any time to find the kittens who are closest and most suitable for petting.
- 3D Google Books — The one thing about ebooks is that they just don’t feel real enough. With Google’s new 3D books, however, ebooks have become better than the real thing.
- Wingdings is the new Font for Ads — You can find Google Adsense ads all across the web selling every product imaginable. Now Google ads will feature the font of nonsense symbols that Google claims is most popular with “cryptologists and carrier pigeons.”
- Gmail Motion — Put that outdated keyboard down. Gmail Motion uses your built-in webcam and Google’s tracking technology to understand every action you’d ever like your computer to take.
- Google Docs Motion — The breakthrough Motion technology also works with Google Docs.
- Google Translate for Animals — If you’ve grown tired of talking to boring, old people, Google Translate for Animals can help you make some new friends.
- Google Autocompleters — Ever wonder how Google can predict what you’re typing? It’s the work of Google’s impressive team of Autocompleters, featured in this video.
- Comic Sans for Everyone — If switching ads to Wingdings wasn’t enough, Google also declared that Comic Sans is the most enjoyable font, and all websites should be viewed using Comic Sans. Always.
14 “I’m Feeling Lucky” Searches
Google Search’s “I’m Feeling Lucky” button takes you to what is (hopefully) the most relevant webpage for your search query. Over the years, the following terms have delivered user-created webpages that tweak the Google homepage in a fun way. Just search the terms in bold and click I’m Feeling Lucky.
Note: If you have Google Instant enabled, you can still find I’m Feeling Lucky to the right of the suggested search terms to find these cool pages. If that doesn’t work, disable Google Instant in your Search Settings.
- Google Gravity — Google Search gets a lot harder when you add gravity to the webpage. Grab the fallen Google logo and mess around.
- Pig Latin Google and more — The Google homepage is offered in over 150 languages, including some peculiar ones like Pig Latin, Hacker, Elmer Fudd, Klingon, Pirate, and the Swedish Chef Muppet’s Bork bork bork.
- Google Sphere — Search options orbit the Google logo. Be careful not to have your mind blown.
- Where is Chuck Norris — You may be feeling lucky, but not lucky enough to locate Chuck Norris.
- Google Heart Page — Add a little more love to your search. For the page to work, your Java will have to be up-to-date.
- elgooG — If you spell Google backwards, you should know what to expect.
- Google Gothic — For those dark days.
- Epic Google — Search bigger with Epic Google.
- Weenie Google — Better search quick before Weenie Google disappears.
- Annoying Google — This page lives up to its name.
- Google l33t — Experts in leetspeak will love searching on Google l33t.
- Google Loco — Feeling a little wild? Get loco!
- Google Rainbow — Brighten up your search.
- Who’s the cutest? — Not a Google variation, but aren’t you curious what answer Google provides?
12 Other Google Easter Eggs
Google has hidden tricks and surprises throughout all of their programs. Find out how your other Google services can surprise you.
- Play Snake on Youtube — Every Youtube video can be immediately improved by pressing up + left arrow keys to begin a game of Snake overtop of a video while you watch it. This can be tough to pull off. As the video begins, quickly alternate pressing up and left 2-3 times and the snake will (hopefully) appear on the screen for you to guide with your direction keys.
- Loch Ness Monster Sighting — If you have your personalized iGoogle search page set up, change your background to the beach theme. When 3:14 AM hits, you’ll see the Loch Ness Monster swimming across your background. If you don’t find yourself surfing the web into the early morning, you can just briefly adjust your clock to view Nessie. Other background themes also have surprises at 3:14 AM (or “Pi time”).
- Beatbox Translation — The great gem a Reddit user discovered in 2010 gets Google Translate to beatbox for you. Translate this nonsense phrase from German to German and listen in to enjoy a killer robot beatbox.
- Car Starting Translation — Enter this combination of p’s and g’s into Google Translate to hear a car starting.
- Gmail Spam — Above the list of emails in Gmail, there is normally an ad, except in the Spam folder, where you’ll find the ad replaced with a link to a recipe containing SPAM. In the same vain, your Trash folder features a recycling tip instead of an ad.
- Slay the Google Docs Dragon — In Google Docs, open up a spreadsheet. Press Shift + F12 to bring up a message that you’ve slain the dragon. Wow, you did it! That was easy.
- Ninja Reader — In Google Reader, tap “up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, b, a” on your keyboard and arrow keys. A ninja will pop onto your left navigation bar. Watch out!
- Teddy Bear in Picasa — If you use Google’s free photo album program, Picasa, try pressing Ctrl + Shift + Y to make a teddy bear appear on the screen.
- Fly around Earth — What was originally released by Google as an Easter egg in Google Earth has become a permanent feature. Now you can fly around the world at any time in Google Earth by pressing Ctrl + Alt + A.
- Kayak across the Pacific Ocean — When searching Google Maps for directions from New York to Tokyo, Google suggests step 35, “kayak across the Pacific Ocean.” That’s a long 2,756 mile trip I wouldn’t suggest.
- 3D Google Maps — Navigate to your favorite Google Maps destination, then press “T” to make the map 3D. Make sure that you’ve got those nerdy glasses with you.
- Travel from the Shire to Mordor — Asking Google Maps for walking directions from Lord of the Rings’ Shire to the dangerous Mordor brings a warning from Google.
17 Great Google Doodles
Google often creates unique logo art, or Google Doodles, for their homepage to celebrate cultural events. We’ve seen some bad Google Doodles over the years, but several interactive Google Doodles have been so fun Google has kept them around.
- Pac-Man — In 2010, Google celebrated the 30th anniversary of Pac-Man’s release with its own version of the arcade classic in place of the Google logo on the homepage. The game lives on here.
- Charlie Chaplin’s Birthday — Google’s first live action video Doodle appeared on the homepage in 2011 to celebrate Charlie Chaplin’s 122nd birthday. It features the Google Doodle team in a silent film as a tribute to Chaplin, shot at the same location of several of Chaplin’s early films.
- Star Trek — Nerds rejoiced when Google put up this doodle celebrating Star Trek’s 46th anniversary. Use the teleporter to complete a dangerous mission.
- Little Nemo in Slumberland — Cartoonist Winsor McKay created the comic Little Nemo in Slumberland back in 1905. The Google logo becomes a Slumberland adventure in this cool comic strip doodle. Clicking along let you watch the story unfold before your eyes.
- John Lennon Doodle — Google couldn’t ignore what would have been the 70th birthday of John Lennon. A sweet animated video spells out Google while you hear the chorus of Lennon’s incredible song Imagine.
- Play the Guitar — To celebrate the birth of electric guitar inventor Les Paul, Google’s homepage featured a playable guitar.
- Logo Repelled by Cursor — When Google Instant launched in 2010, Google utilized html5 to create a bubble-filled logo that is repelled by your mouse. It’s pretty fun to play with the logo.
- Rube Goldberg Machine — A Rube Goldberg machine that sets off a fireworks display lived on the Google homepage in 2010 for the 4th of July (also Rube Goldberg’s birthday).
- Hertz Doodle — No one loved electromagnetic waves more than Heinrich Hertz.
- Martha Graham’s Choreography — Google combines many of the revolutionary choreographer’s signature moves to create this quick video Doodle.
- Valentine’s Day Video — Google gets cute and sweet with this Valentine’s Day video Doodle of a boy’s courting of a girl and her jump rope.
- Jules Verne Doodle — Jules Verne’s 183rd birthday saw Google’s 2011 interactive Doodle, allowing you to explore the deep sea like Verne’s classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
- Animal Locomotion Doodle — Google nods to Eadweard J. Muybridge and his pioneering work in cinematography and animal locomotion with this animated doodle.
- Earth Day Doodle — Forget animated logos. Google recorded the growing of a Google logo garden to celebrate Earth Day.
- MOOG — In an attempt to top 2011’s playable guitar logo, Google honors synthesizer pioneer Bob Moog by creating a working synthesizer. We’ll add a link once we find the Doodle’s permanent home. Then you can use Moog Music’s guide to learn how to use the complicated and peculiar instrument.
- Drive-in Doodle — No one celebrates the 79th anniversary of the drive-in like Google. Check out this cool, short video.
- Mother’s Day Doodle — Google wishes a happy Mother’s Day with this adorable doodle.
- Olympic Hurdles Doodle — This simple interactive game let you control an Olympic hurdler. Better run fast and jump high!
- Olympic Basketball Doodle — A timed shootout lets you practice up on your b-ball skills for the Olympics.
- Olympic Soccer Doodle — My favorite interactive Olympics doodle was the soccer goalie challenge.
- Olympic Canoe Doodle — And for the water-savy, try navigating your canoe through the course in this slalom canoe doodle.
- The Google Doodle Archives — Google Doodles from the last 14 years are catalogued for you to browse at your leisure.
14 Cool Google Search Tools
“They say we only use 10% of our brain, and I would wager we use even less of our Google.” –unknown scholar
Google has grown up quite a bit over the last two decades (the company is 98 in reverse dog years), and the maturity of their search engine has gone from an untrained puppy to that of a wise, old hound. Here are some cool tools Google Search offers.
- Calculator — Google is better at math than a lot of us. Enter in a math equation and Google will figure it out.
- Weather — To check the weather anywhere in the World, type “weather” followed by the place you want to check.
- Define Words — Save yourself a click or two and have Google define a word for you by typing “define: this word.”
- Stocks — Google will keep you up to date with the market. Just search a company’s ticker symbol for the latest numbers (ex: “TGT” for Target).
- World Time — If time zone deciphering eludes you, just type “time” and a city to get the local time.
- Airline Flight Schedule and Status — To see flight schedules to or from a particular location, type “flights to” or “flights from” a certain city (ex: flights from Austin to Seattle). Check a flight’s status by searching the airline and flight number (ex: Alaska Airlines 143).
- Track UPS, Fedex, or USPS Shipping — Search for your UPS, Fedex, or USPS tracking number and Google will let you know where your package is.
- Search by Phrase — Searching for words in quotes tells Google to only include webpages that use those words together in that order, as opposed to a normal search that looks for the chosen words anywhere on the page, not necessary as a phrase.
- Exclude a Term from the Results — Putting a – in front of any word in your search tells Google to exclude any results with that word, very useful when you’re searching for _____ and don’t want ____.
- Sports Scores — Typing a team’s name into the search box brings up scores for their most recent matches.
- Search Only One Site — Want to search a specific site for an article, but the site doesn’t have a good search function? Search that site’s pages with Google by specifying the website in your query (ex: site:mashable.com New iPad)
- Synonym Search — Place a tilde (~) in front of a word to search for its synonyms as well as the word itself (ex: Chicago ~restaurants).
- Fill in the Blank — Sometimes you don’t know exactly what you’re searching for, and need Google to fill in the blank. Insert a * in place of the word you want Google to figure out for you (ex: Thomas Edison invented the *).
- New Google Things to Do — Google knows that they’re all that and a bag of chips, so they continually update this list of unique ways to use Google tools.
Did we miss anything good? Let us know in the comments.
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