When you hear the name "Google", it's usually in one of two contexts. In one case, it may be referring to the Internet-based mega-corporation itself. In the other case, it is likely a casual way to refer to the famous and wildly popular Internet search engine that gave Google its start: Google Search.
What is a "search engine"?
Basically, a search engine is a computer program that stores and sorts different kinds of information about all of the different things on the Internet. This can include:
- What type of file it is (e.g. web page, image, video, sound, other document)
- The key words associated with it (e.g. title, subject matter, classification)
- When it was created or last changed
- How large it is (for an image)
- How long it is (for a video or sound)
A search engine then allows you to specify what kind of information you want to see, and then looks through all of the information that it has to see if any of it matches what you're looking for. If it does, the search engine then points you to where the content associated with that information is on the Internet.
You can think of a phone book as an early type of search engine: it stored information about names, addresses, and phone numbers, and then made it easier for you to find the one you were looking for by sorting them in alphabetical order. Of course, today's search engines store many more different kinds of information and can sort them in even more ways!
What can Google Search do?
Google Search has changed a lot since it was created in 1997 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, but it's still the world's most popular search engine, thanks to its powerful and easy-to-use tools.
As you type in what you're looking for, Google Search will help you out by suggesting popular search topics, and automatically changing your results accordingly.
If you trust that Google is going to give you the result you want up front, use the "I'm Feeling Lucky" feature to go immediately to the first page that Google Search returns as a search result.
You can look for what you're asking for in different forms: a web page, a picture, a video, a location on a map, even something out of a book or news story.
You can filter your results based on where you live, when the item was created or last updated, whether it has the exact word or phrase that you're looking for, and more.
There are some special things that Google Search will directly give you if you ask for them, such as weather reports, similar words or translations, measurement unit conversions, sports scores, and stock market quotes. Try it out and see what you can find!