This let’s you index your local hard disk and search for keywords on it, using the same sorts of searches you use with Google on the web. It has a similar function to Microsoft FastFind, but it is more sophisticated. It is sometimes called DeskBar because you can access it, even outside a browser from the system tray/taskbar. It even has a feature to let people on a LAN (Local Area Network) search each other’s computers. It also lets you launch apps on your own machine by typing the first few letters of the name, e.g. wor for MS Word. It is easy to set up and use. Of course indexing takes up a huge amount of space and computer time. It cleverly attempts to do its indexing while the computer is otherwise idle. It appears to work with any browser, though it ignores emails other than those managed by Outlook and Firefox, unless you find an appropriate plug-in.
To search archives such as 7z, arj, bz2, cab, gz, tar, rar and zip, you will need to install the Archive Plug-in. The plug-in also handles nested archives. If Google Desktop does not do what you want out the box, check for a plug-in to add the functionality. Failing that, you could write your own plug-in using the proprietary Microsoft COM (Component Object Model) interface.
Unfortuately, it gives you no control over where it puts its giant indexes. Arrgh! However, it is not totally stupid. It picked a different drive from my choice for its indexes, but at least one with a reasonable amount of free space. Infuriatingly, it put all its program files on the overcrowded C:.
I tried a plug-in from PodSync called TweakGDS to rectify index placement. It is rather literal. When you tell it to move the Google indexes to drive G: it will put them in the root directory! You must provide it a suitable directory name such as G:\Google Desktop Indices. It does not move all the Google data files, just the indexes, so you must leave the original X:\Google Desktop Data and F:\Program Files\google directories intact. Be aware, if you make any changes to the drives to be indexed via TweakGDS, it discards all its indexes and starts from scratch. After I installed it, both Google Desktop and my machine general became very unstable. Google kept rebuilding the indexes over and over from scratch. It would stall for hours doing making no rebuild or apparently regressing. I uninstalled it, and of course that triggered yet another round of total index rebuilding. This seem to have cleared the instability. Perhaps you will have better luck with it.
My biggest complaint with Google Desktop is that, even though I have it configured to index only when my machine is idle, it is far too eager to index. It slows down all my work. I would be much happier if it waited for 30 seconds of inactivity before catching up on its indexing. It is in there like a hungry dog indexing instantly every time I change a file.
Make sure you exit Google Desktop before you defrag, or else Google’s index files (e.g. E:\Google Desktop Data\*\*.cf1) will not be defragged. Google not only indexes your files, it creates multiple cached copies of them, presumably stored in delta form the way CVS does. It has to run all the time normally to detect file changes as they happen. It will catch up when you run it again by doing a complete disk scan. Similarly, turn it off while you are backing up to CD (Compact Disk) or it could stall the backup and ruin it.
When you click on an HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) reference it has found, the document shows up in the browser, in my case Opera. From there, I can click view source to edit the original!! If you click a text file, it shows up in the editor/viewer you have associated with *.txt files.
You can restrict your searches to *.txt files with filetype:txt in your search criterion.
You can restrict searches to certain directories with under:"C:\Documents and Settings". I have not yet found a tag that lets you specify file name wildcards.
from:firstname.lastname@example.org looks for emails from a certain person.
to:email@example.com looks for emails to a certain person.
Boxes let you narrow the search to within a band around a given date. There are other advanced search features.
Google indexing gets run ragged if you move or rename directories frequently as I do to hide and reveal them in various directory trees. You need to turn off indexing of all such directories if you don’t want Google going nuts with endless indexing. Similarly if you have any pipeline batch processing of files, Google wants to get in there at every stage and take another cached snapshot of all the files, greatly slowing down the works.
Google does not automatically update itself. You must download and reinstall Google Desktop every few weeks to get the bug fixes. You can see which version you have by clicking About.
The index will eventually clog with dozens of versions of the same file. Further, it will mysteriously refuse to index some new files. The only thing I have found to correct this is to uninstall Google desktop, manually wipe all its index files (search for *.cf1 to find the directories where they live), and start from scratch, and rebuild the indexes which will take several hours. Unfortunately, you will have to reenter all your preference settings from scratch.
The bottom line is, I removed Google Desktop from my machine. It had only about a 30% chance of finding what I was looking for. It simply did not index everything it should. I could discern no pattern in its omissions. I needed more accuracy. I am now using Copernic.
If you have Google Desktop installed and if you are reading a local mirror copy of my website provided via the Replicator, you can do a Google desktop search with: filetype:html "recommend book", (note the exact-search quotes) and Google Desktop will find you my book referrals sprinkled throughout the mindprod.com site, about whatever other search criteria you add. Note the spelling of recommend — one c, two ms, not reccommend or recomend or reccommend. You have to spell it exactly in the form of a command: "recommend book", not "recommend books" or "recommended book" or "recommend a book".
This feature will also kick in later using an ordinary web browser Google.com site search with site:mindprod.com "recommend book" for people who browse the ordinary way, when Google next indexes the mindprod.com website.
Incidentally, Google Desktop will let you find anything else on the mindprod.com website with indexes that are only seconds out of date.
You can similarly find my DVD (Digital Video Disc) recommendations with filetype:html "recommend DVD" in Google Desktop and site:mindprod.com "recommend book" in an ordinary web browser Google site search.
You can also use Google Books to search for books, and browse them online to various degrees. You can also use or Copernic, which I find generally faster and more reliable that Google Desktop. Just search for recommend book without quotes. You might optionally set the filetype to html to narrow the search.
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