Google Your Computer

OK, it’s Friday so it must be time for another Google announcement – and here it is: rather than integrate the web into the desktop like Microsoft, Google have instead chosen to integrate the desktop with the web.

Google Desktop is the company’s latest product aimed at revolutionising the way we search for information. Simply, it’s an applet that indexes files on your PC and allows you to search for them in a web browser using the same clean Google interface used to great success in their web product.

The applet is available as a 400k download from the company’s main site and works with Windows XP and 2000 (SP3 and above). The applet initially builds an index of the files on your PC, the index is subsequently updated when you’re not using you computer to ensure that its performance isn’t affected, though Google recommend at least 128mb of RAM and 500mb of free disk space.

Desktop Search is even available as an option from your standard Google Search page, meaning that you can find things on the internet and your PC at the same time. Results are returned seemingly instantly – a speed advantage gained through not having to download them from a website.

Google Desktop will happily search through and return Outlook emails, text files, HTML, PowerPoint Presentations and documents in a range of other formats. I was delighted when my first search brought me an email, nicely presented in the browser, that had only just arrived and I hadn’t even opened in Outlook yet. Better still, you can hit Reply on the result page and an email window will launch, so you don’t even have to go back into your email client. Items can be removed from results so that repeat searches don’t bring them back.

Currently in beta, Google intend to add more features to Desktop Search with better algorithms and file filters – now, where’s that browser, guys?

All about Google Desktop
Download Google Desktop

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?