25. About Google's Search-by-Number Feature
Our lives are filled with numbersZIP Codes, area codes, UPCs (universal product codes), Federal Express tracking numbers, and more. One of Google's least-known capabilities is its capability to ferret out information based on numbers you type into itin most instances, you don't even need to tell Google what kind of number it is. Google can figure it out for itself.
For example, let's say you're considering buying a used car. You'd like to find out whatever you can about the car before you buy it. Look through the front of the windshield and find the vehicle's 17-character Vehicle Information Number (VIN). (The VIN number might also be in the owner's manual.) Type the VIN number into Google as you see it, without hyphens or spaces (for example, 1g2pm37rxfp271693), and you'll find a link to a page on the CARFAX service, which gives you the basic information about the car, including its year, make, model, body style, engine type, and the country in which it was manufactured. If you want a complete history of the car from CARFAX, you can pay $19.99 for a more complete report, including a record of accidents (major or otherwise), the number of owners, and so on.
You can type many other numbers into Google to find information. Here's a list:
Type a product's UPC code and you are sent to the UPC Database, which gives you manufacturer information about products.
Type a Federal Express tracking number, and you are given a link to a FedEx page that supplies tracking information. Google does not work with United States Postal Service (USPS) or United Parcel Service (UPS) tracking numbers.
Type a U.S. Postal Service tracking number, and you are sent to a page that links you to the U.S. postal website with tracking information. You can do this only for packages you can also track through the U.S. Postal Service website, which means you can Google only those letters or packages you've sent using a means that allows tracking. So, for example, if you simply have a USPS number from having shipped a package, but haven't paid for a service that offers tracking, such as registered mail or certified mail, the Google search won't work.
Type the flight number of an airplane, including the name of the airline, such as Delta 1098, and you get a top-of-the-page result that reads Track status of Delta Air Lines flight 1098 on Travelocity - Expedia - fboweb.com. Click any of the links to track the status of a flight.
Type the tail number of an airplane, and you see the full registration form for the plane.
Type Patent and then a patent number, within quotation marks, like this:"patent 5123123". You can get patent information about any United States patent.