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Q.I recently discovered that you can type a vehicle information number (VIN) right into Google and get the details on a specific car. What other shortcuts like this is Google capable of?
A.In addition to roaming the Web on regular keyword searches, Google can recognize certain types of numbers and codes typed into its search box and save you a step in your quest. (Some of these shortcuts will also work with other search engines, like Yahoo.)For instance, instead of searching for a Web site that tracks current flights, you can type a flight number (like “VS046” for Virgin Atlantic’s Flight 46 or “United 156” for United Airlines Flight 156) right into the search box on the main Google page. If Google recognizes the flight number, it returns a set of links to sites like, Travelocity or the aviation Web site FBOWeb.com that displays the flight’s current status.You can track packages from Google’s main search box by typing in its tracking number from carriers like Fedex,or the United States Postal Service. For example, to hunt down a FedEx package, you can type “fedex 854223553690” to get a link that lets you directly track that package on the FedEx Web site.You can search for patent numbers by typing “patent” followed by the number in the search box, and look up stock quotes by entering the company’s ticker symbol on Google’s main page. And in addition to getting a link to the Carfax site when you enter an automobile’s VIN number, you can get similar information on aircraft by typing in a plane’s registration number from the Federal Aviation Administration.Google’s main search page can also serve as a calculator, phone book and dictionary. More information on these browser shortcuts is at Google Guide.

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