Google Desktop Search 2

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A new version of the popular Google Desktop Search tool has arrived.

A new version of the popular desktop search tool has arrived. Google Desktop Search 2 is similar to the previous version in the types of documents and files indexed. There are major additions to the search interface. It is released to the public as a ‘beta test’ and while our tests indicate that it is stable there are various minor glitches we’ve noticed.

Catching all the attention is the ‘Google Sidebar’. This is a series of small customizable windows that sit on your desktop. This has been wrongly labeled as a rip-off of a feature in the next version of Windows – Vista / Longhorn, but really the idea has been around longer than that. A product called Desktop Sidebar has offered something similar for some time.

On the Sidebar you can have news headlines, web clips, and a Quick View of links to recent and frequently used items. There’s a photo window that will display images of your own or those from the Internet, rotating automatically. We liked the ‘scratch pad’ a simple place to jot a note while working, with all notes saved automatically. Google is encouraging the development of plug-ins so expect to see more in the future.

Personally I don’t like sidebars whether they come from Microsoft, Google or anyone else. It’s an unwanted use of screen space and a major distraction. News ‘alerts’ about some alleged celebrity who lost her dog don’t deserve valuable screen space.

Tip: If you like what the Sidebar has to offer but hate to give up screen space, set Google Desktop Search to display in Floating Deskbar mode. Tuck the Deskbar near the top-right corner of the screen so it sits on the title bar of a fully open window but doesn’t obscure the minimize/close boxes, then use the Deskbar’s maximize button to open the Sidebar only when you really want it; use the Sidebar’s minimize button to scrunch it down to tiny Deskbar size once more.

The current Google Sidebar is thankfully free of changes and animations to draw the eye away from Word or Outlook but I suspect fancier plug-ins will ‘fix’ that. With more widespread use of multiple monitors you might like to place the Sidebar on a secondary screen.

At the bottom of the Sidebar is a new way to search your Google Desktop index. It uses the ‘display results as you type’ method available to other desktop search tools, notably Spotlight for Apple users.


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