Google Desktop Search Released

By Deane Barker on October 14, 2004

Google Desktop Search Download: Google has released a beta version of the Desktop Search, which we’ve discussed before. It’s an odd bird — it actually runs a little server on port 4664 and you interact with it via a browser.

I installed it and am playing with it now. Not sure what to make of it. The results seems pretty good, but it only indexes your machine when it’s “idle” (however they define it), so it really doesn’t get much indexing done on my machine.

If you install it and play with it, post your experiences. I’ll post some comments with mine as I continue working with it.



  1. Well, here’s one impressive thing it does: index everything. I did a search and it returned “5 emails (out of Outlook), 1 file, 0 chats, and 6 Web history.” It claims to have indexed 7,000+ items and counting.

    The email viewing is excellent. They’re converted to HTML and displayed right in the browser. Very impressive.

  2. Quite quickly coming to love it —

    I got a voice mail and the guy wanted me to call him back. I missed the phone number, only catching the last four digits. Instead of listening to the entire message again, I just plugged the last four digits into Google Desktop Search and it bounced back three emails from the guy where his phone number appeared in his signature.

    It’s even better at finding emails than Lookout, and I am (was?) a big fan of that. It does plurals and stemming, so I don’t have to have the exact form right (but not misspellings, curiously — there’s no spellcheck).

    When viewing an email in the results, you have “Reply” and “Forward” buttons right in the interface — they pop the requisite Windows in Outlook. You can view the emails as threads, compose new emails to the senders, etc.

    It’s indexed over 20,000 items on my hard drive so far (most are visited Web pages). It’s included network shares as well, which is a handy thing. I was looking at the preferences, and you can exclude file paths via wildcard — tell it not to index anything that starts with a certain path, etc.

    Here’s the really interesting thing: it interfaces with the regular Google search. If I search Google now, it displays results from my machine at the very top of the search.

  3. Because it’s not doing the search real-time. It pre-indexes everything on your machine — digests it all and creates an index that it consults without having to sift through everything everytime it searches. The downside is that there’s a lag time between the creation of the new item and when it gets in the index and is “searchable.”

    (However, that lag time is pretty friggin’ small. I just got a hit on an email I sent three minutes ago.)

  4. I installed it and it looked rather good until it reached around 11K documents at which point it started consuming 100% all the time, whether indexing or not — in fact after a night long work it did not install even a single document on top of what it did before.

    Google help center could not help (don’t know if they have tracing or other facilities) so I had to uninstall it. Pity.


  5. It really wouldn’t make sense for Google to put the effort in creating a Mac version of this as Spotlight functionality in Mac OS X Tiger is essentially a duplicate of this and will be coming out first half of next year… Longhorn also has (had planned?) similar functionality but who knows when that is coming out and what features will be left once MS figures out what it can and can’t get in and still make a release date… Sure, I’ve bought 3 copies of OS X in the past 3 years while my copy of XP has been content with its monthly security updates but as long as Apple is delivering on the cool stuff it promises I’ll happily shell out the $129 for the releases.

  6. A post on Slashdot called it “spyware,” because it searches across user accounts. Your search results will return files even from other user’s directories on the same machine. Google responded with “this tool is not meant for user on machines used by more than one person…” or something.

  7. The google desktop search does index files across user accounts, but its nothing you couldnt find by browsing folders or using the search that comes with windows.(ie you can browse to another user’s “my documents” folder) If one wishes to really keep accounts separate, stricter poilicies will have to be set up in windows. Windows would deny access to these files if they were protected, but they arent by default. The fact that you could do any of this only reveals flaws in windows.

    The best thing to do is use it, and send feedback to them about flaws and crashes, its only a beta. They have quite a crafty team over there at google, it will get better.

  8. I installed Google Desktop Search (GDS) and my personal firewall reports repeated intents of GDS trying to access the internet almost every time I try to open a new webpage using my browser.

    The questions is: Knowing google desktop search is intended for local desktop searchs, what the heck is it trying to do when accesing the internet? I am almost sure it is spyware.

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