Google is an indispensable tool these days. The internet contains the sum of all human knowledge and more cat videos than have any right to exist and Google is by far the most common tool we use to access all of it. Need to find a good recipe for Bananas Foster? Or maybe you need instructions on how best to extinguish a kitchen fire? Or how about tracking down a quality contractor that can remodel a fire-damaged apartment? All of this information and much, much more is at our fingertips, and all we have to do is search for it on “the Google,” as all of our grandmothers call it.
But “the Google” is more than just an online how-to directory and a sounding board for the stupidest questions humanity can come up with. It’s also one of the largest companies on earth. So it might come as somewhat of a surprise, then, to find that the tech behemoth has a wry sense of humor. Most of you were probably first exposed to the softer side of Google through its many Doodles, whimsical drawings and animations that the company creates which replace the standard logo on their homepage several times a month. Others have probably been caught off-guard by one of the search giant’s infamous April Fools’ jokes, such as job postings for a research center on the moon or their “scratch and sniff” search results.
The company is also famous for the subtle, often pop culture-inspired Easter eggs embedded all over its search results. Some are hard to find; some are fairly obvious; but all are there to make users smile and procrastinate. The following list is proof that even the biggest of companies can still have a playful side.
11. Something’s a Little Off
No need to adjust your monitor. Google’s just having a little fun with you. When you search the words “askew” or “tilt” in Google’s search bar, the entire results page is tilted just a few degrees. Not enough that it prevents you from reading through the results, but just enough that you notice it.
10. Around and Around and Around
Try this: go to Google’s homepage, type the words “Google sphere” in the search bar, and click I’m Feeling Lucky. Pretty cool, huh? All the words on the page begin to orbit the Google logo but everything still works the way it should, though the links are a bit harder to click on.
9. …And We All Fall Down
This one is very similar to the Google sphere trick above. Only instead of sending the page into orbit, this Easter egg makes it all come crashing down. Typing “Google gravity” in the search bar and hitting the I’m Feeling Lucky button sends all the buttons, links, and images crashing to the ground as if someone suddenly turned off the antigravity machine.
8. “Do a Barrel Roll”
Another fun one that’s actually been around for quite some time, typing the words “do a barrel roll” into the Google search bar will send the page into a 360 degree spin. This trick only works, however, in certain browsers.
In a particularly contemplative moment (that rare one when you still have your computer open), you might be tempted to ask Google something along the lines of “What’s the answer to life, the universe, and everything?” To which Google will dispassionately reply, “42.” Don’t panic, this is merely an homage to Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
6. Nag a Ram?
Try searching on the word “anagram” and Google, perhaps sensing your next step, will helpfully ask if you meant to write “nag a ram,” which of course is an anagram of “anagram.”
5. “Zerg Rush”
Search for “zerg rush” on Google and you’ll find your results page instantly besieged by alien Os multiplying from the Google logo. You can destroy them by clicking on them quickly; but no matter how many you kill, it won’t be enough to save your page from destruction. This little diversion, a tribute to the popular game StarCraft, debuted in 2012 and is still a great way to kill time at work.
4. The Lonliest Number
Whether it’s a reference to the song made famous by Three Dog Night or a scathing comment on the nature of isolation brought about by the very internet culture that enabled Google to take over the world in the first place (probably the former), typing “the loneliest number” into Google always returns the number 1.
3. Play Snake on Youtube
YouTube, which is wholly owned by Google, is the ultimate destination for countless internet dwellers these days. And, when videos are taking too long to buffer, YouTubers in the know simply pause the video, hold the left arrow key for 2-3 seconds, and then tap the up arrow key. Now they can play a quick game or two of Snake while they wait for their cat video to load.
For all its usefulness, Google is still working through some rather childish behavior. Case in point, try typing the word “recursion” into the search bar. Right away you notice the bright red “Did You Mean” text letting you know you’re not the world’s greatest speller. You shrug it off and hit the corrected option it offers you only to end on the same page again and again. Then it hits you: a recursion is a process of repetition and Google is basically a thirteen year old boy with a dictionary.
1. And Now the Feats of Strength
Longtime fans of the classic sitcom Seinfeld will no doubt remember George Costanza’s father Frank had a non-trivial aversion to the commercialization of Christmas. So, he created his own holiday: Festivus. One of the core tenets of the holiday was a bare aluminum pole, which served as a symbolic counterpart to the Christmas tree. A simple Google search for “Festivus” returns a similarly unadorned pole on the lefthand side of the results page, reminding us all that there will always be “a Festivus for the rest of us!”