Google Desktop Search Has Launched
Google quietly launched its Google Desktop Search today and a slew of bloggers have tested it, reviewed it, and are currently testing it, including yours truly. Google Desktop is a frightfully fast application which searches desktop documents, web browser history, and chat room conversations (in AOL’s AIM) along with email and other common program files. Amazingly enough, Google Desktop Search is set up like the Google homepage, except it searches an index which is kept on your machine and not web based.
Search Engine Lowdown‘s Andy Beal praises Google Desktop Search “One of the great things about Google Desktop is just how intuitive it is to use. In the screenshot above, you can clearly see that the default setting allows you to view all of your relevant documents. But by clicking simple text links, you can refine your search to just emails, files, web pages, AIM chats etc. Searching through previously viewed web pages is very cool. Not only can it help you re-discover that page you looked at last week, but Google Desktop also shows you a thumbnail image of that page. You can also use simple operators to tell Google what files to look for:”
Andy also comments on Google Desktop Search’s integration into normal Google Search results:
Google Desktop uses a local IP when you search your desktop for a file or document, but something very interesting happens when you conduct a normal web search. Remember those little info boxes you see at the top of some Google search results? The ones that sometimes include snippets from Google News and other times include Froogle results? Well, when you download Google Desktop, expect to see something very similar.
Here’s an example of what Andy’s talking about:
Google Desktop Search offerings include a chat search where google allows you to search your past AOL Instant Message (AIM) conversations through some kind of partnership with AOL ( a current Google partner) but has not been able to index Yahoo and other Instant Messaging history. Google can also track your email conversations in a fashion similar to GMail “If an email search result is part of a longer thread or conversation, you have access to all the emails in the conversation, without having to sort through your email inbox.”
Google Desktop Search also lets the user set specific email filters “Icons to the left of each search result identify the type of document you’ve found. For web history results, thumbnail images may appear to the right showing a preview of the page, to make it easier for you to determine if the result is relevant.” Users can filter all assigned document types in their search results.
Search Engine Watch’s Danny Sullivan and Gary Price comment on Google Desktop Search’s Caching Ability:
Any item listed will initially have a “1 cached” link after its file name. Similar to the Google page cache feature, this lets you see a copy of the file as Google has indexed it, without actually opening the file itself. So if you have a spreadsheet file, you see a copy of the spreadsheet without having to open Excel.
Each time you view something, a snapshot of what you’ve seen is created. Did you visit the same web page several times in a month? A copy of the page each time you visited is made. The “1 cached” link will change to reflect the number of copies recorded.
Google Desktop’s Privacy Statement reads as follows.
“Google is commited to making search on your desktop as easy as searching the web. We recognize that privacy is an important issue, so we designed and built Google Desktop Search with respect for your privacy.
So that you can easily search your computer, the Google Desktop Search application indexes and stores versions of your files and other computer activity, such as email, chats, and web history. These versions may also be mixed with your Web search results to produce results pages for you that integrate relevant content from your computer and information from the Web.
Your computer’s content is not made accessible to Google or anyone else without your explicit permission.”
Andy Beal brings up one worry that “The only thing that was of any concern to us was Google Desktop’s ability to store documents in its cache long after you have deleted them from your hard drive. This should cause concern, especially for companies who’s employees download the tool. Sensitive data that you thought had been destroyed, could be hanging around ready for that next virus to take advantage of.”
At Search Engine Journal we are just in the testing phases of Google Desktop Search, and Sushubh Mittal will have a full review on it within the day.