How-To Geek

From the Tips Box: Instantly Cool a Hot Car, Google Synonym Search, and Extended Android Keyboards

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Once a week we dip into the tips box and pulls out some clever tips to share. This week we’re looking at how to instantly cool your hot car down,  improve your Google search results with automatic synonyms, and extending your Android keyboard.

Cool a Hot Car Down by Pumping the Door Open and Closed

Mark writes in with this cool down technique:

I know cooling down your car is not exactly a technological tip and probably not your bag (so I don’t mind if you don’t post this) but it’s been so freaking hot I had to send it in. I found this video browsing Reddit the other day and tried it out on my own car. It worked so well! Here’s the trick: when your car is hot from being in the sun you can cool it down by rolling down one window and then, on the opposite side, open and close the car door around a half-dozen times. It pumps cooler air in from outside the car like a big set of bellows. It’s awesome. I couldn’t believe how fast it cooled the car down.

We’re totally comfortable making an exception in light of how insanely hot it has been. The dew point has risen so high in the Midwest US this week that in some parts of Minnesota it’s as humid and damp as the Amazon. Anything people can do to cool off in the heat wave is worth sharing! Thanks Mark!

Search Google with Synonyms


Steve writes in with a clever search trick:

Lots of people know that you can modify your Google search with operators like the + and – symbol to force Google to search for or remove a specific word from the query. Did you know that you can search for synonyms? If you put a tilde (the ~ symbol) in front of a search term it will tell Google to also search for synonyms. The query ~cheap shoes for example gives results as though you had searched for cheap shoes, inexpensive shoes, affordable shoes, etc. It’s really handy when you want to broaden your search results without getting too far away from your original search.

Great tip, Steve! We thought we were Google ninjas around here but the tilde to force synonym searching was a trick we’d never used before. Nice find.

Swipe Up for More Android Keyboard Space

2011-07-21_160232Angela writes in with a handy way to work faster on an Android keyboard. She writes:

I found this by accident while typing furiously on my phone the other day. On my Android phone if I swipe up while using the keyboard the keyboard automatically extends two rows and makes the punctuation and numbers visible. It chews up a little screen space but it makes typing so much easier!

Not many people are aware of this feature Angela. If you have Android 2.2 or above and are using the default keyboard then a simple swipe gives you a spacious keyboard to work with. Thanks for writing in!

Have a tip or trick to share? Shoot us an email at and you might just see your tip on the front page.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 07/21/11

Comments (14)

  1. James

    The android keyboard trick does not work with the default gingerbread keyboard. It was one feature I greatly missed when I bumped my phone up to a gingerbread ROM.

  2. dima

    haha, the first one made me laugh. Seriously? I didn’t know you can cool down something by pumping air in it. It’s like the last thing I would do when I would want to cool something down. Ya. Totally would never guessed that. Wow. It really works. I’ve looking for a way to cool things down for 23 years. Finally, I found it thanks to HowToGeek

  3. Jones

    I might end up breaking my car doors faster than anticipated if I follow that trick. For the last days that it has been roasting and grilling out, I just leave my desk 5 mins before going home and go by the window and push unlock and hold which brings down all my windows for me. There my pumping and cooling with a push of a button :-)

  4. Bert

    I have modified the old wagon with a ‘smart’ PDA (wired around the steering lock) and use my Smart Phone app to remotely start the car and air-conditioning about 20 minutes (depending on the heat) before I leave work or am stuck in the check-out line. Works a treat. The old ‘analogue version’ (officially frowned upon) was to sit there in the heat for about 15 minutes – long enough to break a sweat, then drive 100mph with the windows all rolled down.

  5. Lance

    The old open/close door trick has been around for quite some time. Many years ago, when I lived in Louisiana, we did this and yes, it worked. You will however get some funny looks or comments, but hey, to each his own………..

  6. PSV

    There’s a really cool Android keyboard available in the market called the “Hacker’s Keyboard”. It gives you a full keyboard like that of a computer in landscape orientation.

  7. G-ma

    Thanks for the car cooling tip!!!

  8. Robert Moskowitz

    That’s silly. Every time you open the door you bring in air, and every time you close the door you expel it again. I find it much easier and faster to open all the windows and get the car rolling, with A/C on. After 30 seconds or a minute, you’ve got a car full of fresh air and it’s safe to roll up the windows.

  9. GerryLee

    Hey there,
    I know this may be a little off topic, but when I saw your article on Androids, it reminded me of something.
    I’ve begun to develop and build mobile friendly websites, using a “shrink and fit” script that automatically
    adjusts to screen size.

    My friend, who developed this particular script gave me a heads up about Android phones using their updated 2.2 os. What he said was that the buzz on Android 2.2s is that they sometimes fail to pick up on certain redirect scripts on the mobile websites that use them. This problem seems to be unique to the 2.2. Lo and behold I experienced that very thing when I contacted a prospect who appeared to have no mobile site on my Droid, but in fact, does have a mobile site as later verified on an iPhone.

    Anyone heard of this? Any thoughts…ideas? Any cures? A cure for this could be an in to a new service, fixing this problem for folks whose sites are getting missed by 1/2 the smart phone users out there.



  10. james jordan

    Not all of us have a/c in our calls……yes some of us still think it’s a lux item!

    Thanks for the tip because it’s hot and I’m going to try it

  11. james jordan

    sorry car

  12. Nic Houslip


    The car manufacturers are going to love this, the replacement hinge and lock business will be huge. Just open the windows, put the A/C [or fan I you don’t have A/C] and drive….
    Moving the door only lowers the air temperature, not the stuff the car is made of.

  13. Stephen

    To Bert:
    You are what is known in Systems Theory as a Positive Feedback Loop. Global Warming effects worsened by Carbon Dioxide emissions from your car inspire you to run your car longer (now, with A/C) putting out even more Carbon Dioxide because you can’t take a little heat for a few minutes. And then, you show your total lack of sensitivity by bragging about your thoughtless actions (and suggesting them for others to follow) on a website forum like this. You really take the proverbial ‘cake’.

  14. George


    Global warming is a lie. Get over it already.

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