The latest incarnation of Google Desktop Search is now available.
The latest incarnation of Google Desktop Search is now available. If you already run GDS you might have seen a prompt to update automatically or you can download from desktop.google.com with your current indexes preserved.
There are few obvious changes to the main search and indexing features which we’ve covered in much detail in our popular Desktop Search Handbook.
Google Desktop Search v4 finally lets you force a total re-index of your data. This isn’t often needed but can be handy.
There is also an option to remove from the index cache any data related to a document that is deleted. Normally the cached version in the index is retained even after the document is deleted which, as we’ve detailed in our Office Backup Handbook can be a useful impromptu backup for a lost document. But in some circumstances having a copy of a deleted document might not be a good idea so this new GDS option is a welcome option.
All the new features are listed here.
GOOGLE GADGETS FOR OFFICE
The biggest and, for us, most interesting change is the arrival of Google Gadgets. This is installed as part of Google Desktop Search v4 though it’s not directly related to searching.
Earlier versions of GDS included the Sidebar, a set of small windows that could display on the side of your screen to show news, information etc. There have been efforts to introduce this kind of interface in the past with little success, many people find the side display to be distracting or takes up to much room on the monitor. Windows Vista will also have a sidebar, though it lacks some important features that the Google version has already. We like the Google Sidebar on a two-monitor computer and with auto-hide on (the main omission from the Vista sidebar to date) but on a laptop the sidebar is definitely off.
GDS v4 has Google Gadgets which brings many of the sidebar features into a more accessible form. Gadgets can appear as an overlaid display on your screen and quickly removed from sight when you don’t want them.
It’s very similar to the Dashboard feature in the recent versions of Macintosh OS X with a configurable set of elements that can appear on the screen on demand. Google Gadgets are a little different to the Dashboard because you can continue to work with your normal programs (eg Word or Outlook) while the gadgets are visible.
The gadget display can be toggled from a button on the status bar or hitting the Shift key twice.
Hint: there’s a new way to enter a Google Desktop Search – hit the Ctrl key twice to see a large entry form in the middle of the screen.
Of interest to us are the gadgets that link directly to Office. All available gadgets can be added or configured from the ‘Add Gadgets’ option under the gadgets button on the status bar.
There is an Outlook calendar gadget that displays a monthly calendar plus upcoming appointments. Details at Bizon.org.
An Outlook Tasks plug-in from George Mamaladze shows your tasks with color coding plus the ability to open the full task in Outlook, add, remove or change the status of tasks.
Any Sidebar element can be dragged onto the desktop to appear in the new Gadgets view.
There are some minor glitches with this first incarnation but this is an interesting and compelling first effort. With more gadgets becoming available in the weeks and months ahead this is a wonderful innovation for Windows users that’s worth checking out.
- Windows Search 4 is barely ready for beta testing
- Vista, Outlook and indexing
- Google Desktop Search – Version 1
- Google Desktop Search for companies
- Google Desktop Search 2
- Google Desktop Search 3 – A bridge too far