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Google Desktop Search

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Now you can put Google on your desktop.

Google has released their Google Desktop Search tool as a beta product at http://desktop.google.com/. This search tool promises to do for your computer what Google already does for the World Wide Web — remember where everything is.

The 447 K download works through your browser. When I first installed it, there was a message about installing Microsoft Internet Explorer extensions, although when the search tool actually started it showed up in my default browser, Mozilla Firefox. When it first runs, it starts a full search of your hard drive, which could take a couple of hours. However, that doesn’t mean your computer is off-limits. It only runs when the computer is idle; if you start typing or use the mouse, Google Desktop Search will stop and take a nap until you are done.

After the initial search, it will only keep an eye on changes, again doing its work while the computer is idle. It’s actually doing its intial search on my laptop now — a quick peek at the Windows Task Manager shows it has four processes running during its active search. Its normal background process should be much less intrusive.

It deposits an icon in your Systray, which is how you start a search. It will search Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files, text, web history (your browser cache), and Outlook and Outlook Express email (no Mozilla or Thunderbird — sigh). There is even an option to search AOL instant messaging. Its preference page also lets you exclude web sites or file paths that you choose. It also lets you integrate your desktop search results within your Google web searches, if you desire. It says that these results are kept private from Google. (If I were really paranoid, I would imagine that all the data on my hard drive is being sent to Google right now.)

There’s a longer review over at the O’Reilly
— they’ve had a chance to play with it a lot longer than the rest of us. (As far as I know, today was the first public release). As I use it some more, I’ll give a more extended review of my own.

Now, if I could only get it to search for my keys…

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About Bruce Kratofil

  • This pile of junk now searches a few programs it didn’t, but “a few hours” of indexing is running into several days at 84% for me.