Stupid Google Tricks: Get a calendar from the search box

I spend a lot of time in my browser. So much time, in fact, that I notice when I drop down to a command-line to type things. I wanted to look up a day later this year, so I typed “cal 2008” into a Unix terminal window. I caught myself thinking, “Hey, why doesn’t Google add a onebox shortcut for searches like ‘cal’ or ‘cal 2008’?”

On one hand, I could bug someone at Google with my request. To be honest, not many people would benefit from a feature like this. Then I realized that I could still solve the issue for myself with Google Subscribed Links. It takes 2-3 minutes to define a shortcut that says “When the user types query X, show a link to page Y in the search results.”

So I ran the command “cal 2008” and copy/pasted the output into a file on my domain. Then I made a simple subscribed link in 2-3 minutes. The interface looks like this:

Just a pointer to my calendar

If you’d like to add this subscribed link to Google too, you can subscribe to my calendar subscribed link with one click.

Anyone that is subscribed can search for [cal] or [calendar] or [cal 2008] and you’ll see a link like this:

Calendar link

And clicking it will take you to my calendar page.

You could have more fun with this, but I’ve already spent more time writing about it than the original hack took. Other thoughts:
– Google Subscribed Links can do more powerful things (e.g. use a feed file), but I didn’t need that power for this simple hack.
– I could have made a script to dynamically show the current year instead of 2008. But compared to the time to copy/paste a text file, I’d almost rather just change the text file once a year.
– If you wanted some practice with Google App Engine, an app to show a calendar for the current year would be a pretty good starter project.

15 Responses to Stupid Google Tricks: Get a calendar from the search box (Leave a comment)

  1. Matt,

    Talking about calendar. Allow me to drop a relevant link which is really very useful. I call it GOOG Gold Mine. The folk at Google prefer to call it Google Web Search Features 🙂

  2. That is handy, Harith, but there’s not easy calendar onebox listed there. 🙂

  3. You are right, might 🙂

    And here is a dream which might come through in future. I wish publishers to be able to use on their websites all Google Web Search Features in connection with their own AdSense accounts! I.e to generate AdSense revenues through Google Web Search Features!! A Win-Win deal!!!

    For example, I need on your blog Google specific search feature Definitions. English is a third language for me, you know 🙂

  4. I will have to control subscribed links.

    Yesterday a friend taught me something unreal.

    Send an sms text to “google”

    Enter in
    Translate amigo from english to spanish

    It then texts you back the translation.

    My wife is going to cry when she hears this, as she is studying Italian and is always carrying around a massive dictionary.

    I just read an article today about how two guys in a garage brought down yahoo, and anyone could do that to Google.

    At this point they are going to have be some pretty smart guys working awfully long hours,…and for many lifetimes.

    It is amazing what Google gives us for free.



  5. Interesting tricks but isn’t the same with a Calendar Gadget? So, isn’t there the possibility to create an RSS feed? 🙂

  6. Seems like an awful lot of work just to get ‘faster access’ to a calendar. I just double-click on DQSD and it displays the current month, and I can tab through the months or years within the popup calendar. It also defaults to using Google as the native search engine (though it supports more than 400 others with a very simple command-line style syntax), so I don’t feel tied to any specific search engine, if Google doesn’t work out.

    Check it out:

  7. If you use Firefox (and if you don’t, you should), you can just use a keyword for a bookmark for quick access.

    Plus you can use the %s operator in shortcuts to pass search terms. I’ve set up a ton of bookmarks this way, and use FoxMarks to sync them, and now I use the address bar as my command line. Cmd-T (new tab) or Cmd-L (reuse existing tab) and type my command.

  8. To be honest, not many people would benefit from a feature like this.

    Actually, don’t sell yourself (or your idea) short; I think tonsS of people would benefit from it. There have been lots of times over the years I wanted to know what day of the week a date (past or future) fell on, and I’ve always had to fire up putty or some other terminal program and get it from my unix shell. Would love to have such a feature generally available in Google. Failing that, maybe I’ll try this.

  9. Google has alot of cool tools, I think when i first started my seo work, I had aleast 1 google tool open in my browser, I was using google map and calendar on my soccer team website and it helped keep my team organized.

  10. google have many interest web tools.
    but the speed always is just so so in china 🙂
    such as web office.

  11. Opera allows you to define custom searches by right-clicking in the search box you want to add, and defining a short cut key: for example, I can search ‘whois’ to perform a DomainTools whois of, and ‘dic word’ to search for ‘word’ on I’m sure it could be extended (in some ways) to the calendar.

  12. I was just looking for a reminder system that I could access from anywhere. Nice, Thanks Matt and Google!

  13. My former hosting company has incorporated google applications into their service package. Simply sign up and meld the information with your hosting account and voila. I thought it was ridiculous. It looked like someone added spammy toys to my paid hosting.

    This calendar application looks like one of those toys most people will play with for a while, then loose intrest, oh wait.. that’s just how people are.

  14. Just an idea, ical for mac users.

  15. I love this stupid idea 🙂