Google via SMS

July 20, 2006 by Dylan Tweney

Did you know that you can search Google on your phone, just by using SMS? That’s right– you don’t need a fancy Web-browsing phone or an expensive Internet access subscription package. All you need is text messaging and a little know-how.

Here’s how it works: You send a message to Google’s SMS number (46645 — that spells GOOGL on your phone’s keypad) and within seconds Google sends an SMS message (or two or three) back to you with the results. Easy!

For example, suppose you wanted to find a pizzeria in for the ZIP code 94401. Bring up your phone’s text messaging screen and enter the message

pizza 94401

Then send it to 46645. (That’s an SMS “short code,” so it’s only 5 digits long instead of the usual 10 digits that most phone numbers are. Don’t worry–it’ll work.) After you hit “Send,” wait a minute.

After Google searches its database it will send the results to you in an SMS message or two. The results will usually include a phone number, address, and the distance and direction from the center of your ZIP code. Here are the two messages Google SMS sent after that search recently:

Amici's East Coast Pizzeria
69 E 3rd Ave
San Mateo, CA 94401
650-343-9392
0.7 mi, SW
Pizza Hut: San Mateo
670 E 3rd Ave
San Mateo, CA 94401
650-548-0200
0.4 mi, S

You can do many other business listing searches by ZIP code or city name, such as florist 90210 or barber san francisco or even specific business names like nordstrom seattle.

You can use Google SMS to search for publicly listed personal names and numbers: John Doe Williamstown MA

You can get movie showtimes by entering the movie’s name and a ZIP code: pirates caribbean 94101

You can even get driving directions via Google SMS, by using “from” and “to” in your query. Here’s an example: from SFO to 101 second san francisco

Here are some more tips on using Google SMS.

There are many other ways to use Google via text messaging. For details, check out the Google SMS how-to guide. Or bookmark this site, SMS 411.net, and come back soon–I’ll have lots more handy information on how to use Google SMS and other services like it.

31 Responses to “Google via SMS”

  1. Mark says:

    Thanks for the tip, Dylan. Googling turns out to be cheaper than calling 411, too.
    –mh

  2. Dylan says:

    Good point, Mark — Cingular charges $1.50 for a 411 call, but if you can get the same information via a few $0.10 SMS messages, you’ve saved at least a dollar each time you use it!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I had no idea! This is so cool!

  4. Speedmaster says:

    This is great stuff, thanks!

  5. Anonymous says:

    This is a great thing man!Why it is not known by many people?
    The cell phone companies are just trying to ake money out of people by selling them their internet services!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Anyone know why this does not work for the T Mobile provider for someone not too savy like myself?

  7. Angel says:

    T-Mobile now considers *short codes* to be spam, not only google, but several other short code sms services are blocked.

    I’m still attempting to find a way around this.

    “GOOGL” used to work great on T-Mobile too!

    Needless to say, I’m rather angry at T-Mobile, bad decision.

  8. Anonymous says:

    This does NOT work for Sprint. I think they must be converting the google bounce back from a simple SMS message into a phone web browser message (so they can charge more money…)

    Anybodyknow of a work around for sprint? I have unlimited SMS messages, but phone web browser is shut off.

    thanks in advance
    zipzit

  9. Anonymous says:

    Turn off your caller id when you send SMS and it seems to work fine with T-Mobile.

  10. Angel says:

    Turning off your caller ID to use google sms codes does NOT work on my Side Kick 3. :/

  11. Anonymous says:

    Worked for me on Sprint. I have a Centro.

  12. al2fred says:

    Working fine on Tmobile for me.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been using this for months on my iPhone but last week, it stopped giving me the phone number. Now if I type a business name, it only gives me an address. Any suggestions how to get it to work again? Thanks

  14. Anonymous says:

    Google has actually changed their SMS number to 466-453 (spells GOOGLE on your phone). I think the old number still works, but this new number will work also.

  15. Anonymous says:

    It works fine on sprint, you are an idiot if you can’t make it work. Learn to use a phone for crying out loud, this is about as simple and basic as it gets folks…

  16. Angel says:

    The Google txt msg service does not work on ANY phone, or any carrier through which you have a pre-paid service.
    That is Googles policy.

    You can find that statement on Googles website.

  17. Anonymous says:

    The Google txt msg service DOES work on MY phone, which IS a pre-paid service.
    THAT is Googles policy.

  18. Anonymous says:

    FOR FREE INFORMATION USE
    800 373-3411 (FREE411)ON ANY PHONE.

  19. Anonymous says:

    For those who prefer a human to a google there’s textamundo.com. It’s an SMS service that answers any question and works worldwide.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I have t mobile and it works fine for me. i have unlimited msgs would this be included in my plan or do they charge you extra?

  21. Anonymous says:

    Any idea how often people use SMS 411 type services on average? 4-5 times per month?

  22. mahavir says:

    Source :
    ——–
    D. Mahavir
    No.4, 4th Cross Bhavananthiar street,
    Sembakkam,
    Chennai- 600 073
    Tamilnadu,
    India.
    Mobile : 9790831964
    E-Mail : d.mahavir@yahoo.co.in

    New Technic to send directions to sms
    ————————————-

    Here we describe a new technic to send directions
    to sms.

    You have to specify how many turning you have to skip…
    Then specify what direction you have to turn…

    For example, What this means…

    12,U,3,L,3,R

    Here first skip 12 turnings…
    Then make a U turn…
    Then skip 3 turnings…
    Then turn left…
    Then skip 3 turnings …
    Then turn right…

    Easy!!!

  23. mahavir says:

    Source :
    ——–
    D. Mahavir
    No.4, 4th Cross Bhavananthiar street,
    Sembakkam,
    Chennai- 600 073
    Tamilnadu,
    India.
    Mobile : 9790831964
    E-Mail : d.mahavir@yahoo.co.in

    New Technic to send directions to sms
    ————————————-

    Here we describe a new technic to send directions
    to sms.

    You have to specify how many turning you have to skip…
    Then specify what direction you have to turn…

    For example, What this means…

    12,U,3,L,3,R

    Here first skip 12 turnings…
    Then make a U turn…
    Then skip 3 turnings…
    Then turn left…
    Then skip 3 turnings …
    Then turn right…

    Easy!!!

  24. Anonymous says:

    Has anyone else noticed that google has stopped giving out the telephone numbers on their text 411 service? Now it's just the business name & address. That's too bad, because it was really convenient before. :^(

  25. tim says:

    Verizon
    H F C? @ BE…’ did not return any results.

    Verizon seems to be blocking things that don’t really have a cost!

    Verizon chooses to classify it as data, not SMS.

    Therefore they apply a charge!

  26. Shambhu says:

    Thanks. It works with Tracfone. For 'the term pizza' plus town and state, I got back two text messages. The first message had two pizzerias with their addresses and phone numbers. The second message had just one more pizza place plus a note to reply NEXT to get more results. Total cost was 0.3 units to send and 0.6 units to receive for a total of 0.90 units. The cost of a unit of airtime on Tracfone ranges from about 10 to 20 cents depending on which airtime card you buy. So the whole thing exchange cost less than 20 cents.

  27. Disappointed says:

    Not 100% sure but this is no longer working correctly.

    I use to use this to send weather request and now when I put in W + zip code, or Weather+zip code, or weather; I get back results for phone listings only.

    However they still have this listed in the help section.

    I search for dominos, I get back seaport results. I am indeed on VZW, and was able to use this feature just fine but a few days ago I needed a replacement and got an iPhone and now the problems. Is there something I don’t know about Google SMS and iPhone specifically?

  28. AVisionQuest says:

    I am a blind user & this is a great tool for the blind on getting a number in most times less than a minute. You can get addresses as well as driving locations to put in your GPS units fast quick & a hurray.

  29. Mike says:

    I use to use this quite a bit. but the last few months, this hasnt been working for me. I have a samsung solstice 887. Att is my carrier. I am not getting any reply. Got any ideas or perhaps a alternate number. Thanks

  30. Alli Mathews says:

    SMS services have been shut down! how horrible!
    how can we get it back?

  31. Eric says:

    This no longer works, as of last week. But don’t worry, folks, we’ve come to save the day: http://s.gnoss.us/googlesms

    Eric Bryant
    Gnosis Media Group

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This site is published by Dylan Tweney, a professional writer and editor, publisher of haiku and SMS information, and a senior editor at Wired.

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