Google for your Desktop Search
Google has been working on this one since some time now. We speculated in May that Google would be getting on with the Desktop Search in the coming months, and it is finally out in a beta release today. It is called Google Desktop Search and it practically rocks.
It comes as a 450 KB download file and installs locally on the system. It places a system tray icon, which runs consecutively in the background indexing files on the system. The background-running crawlers monitor the files and internet/chat sessions and keep the index up-to-date by indexing the system when the system is not busy. The processes were eating up quiet some system memory on my personal test system at around 15 megs, but then with the current processing powers and system memory… Most users out there will not find it to be much. Google itself recommend at least 128 MB RAM and a 400 MHz+ system processor. So, if you have a decent computer, running Google Desktop background client wonâ€™t tax your system much. Most of the crawling is done when the system is idle.
I have seen and checked out some other desktop search applications before. But this is different. It merges with the Google interface itself and let you search your system as you search the internet from Google. The similar interface would make it convenient for all kind of users to start with it. Google also let you get the results from Desktop Searches when you do a web search. If the search query finds a relevant document on the local system, it is shown at the top just like results from Google news.
Google Desktop Search currently has limited application and format support. It searches for mails from MS Outlook and Outlook Express, Chat Sessions from AOL Instant Messenger, Internet Explorer browsed webpages, Text files and Office files like Word, Excel and PowerPoint. With most of the technical users moving on to alternative browsers like Mozilla Firefox and Opera and lot of users on other popular Instant Messengers like Yahoo! messenger and MSN Messenger… Not many would find Google Desktop Search as yummy. Google however mentions on their support pages that they would be adding support for more applications and file formats. It also does not support older operating systems. You need to have a Windows 2000 SP3 or above to be able to use it. Also, it does not install unless you have a Gig hard disk space free on the primary drive.
What I liked about Google Desktop Search is the ability to be able to search my hard disk using the very popular Google Search interface. It also let me quickly look at the content of a file using the cache feature. And I can chose to hide folders or files from its crawlers if I want to. It is fast and it can only get better.
Sushubh Mittal is the Technical Consultant for Search Engine Journal and blogs at Software Journal.