Google Debuts Desktop-Search Tool

Google’s desktop search is integrated with the familiar Web search, with a new Desktop tab appearing at, and results culled from a search of the local drive are added to the top of any search through the Web. The local results are displayed at the top of the list, marked with a new logo and tagged with the phrase, “stored on your computer.”

One of its key features, Price says, is its ability to search through previously viewed Web pages. Google Desktop Search searches through Internet Explorer’s History file and displays matches, including thumbnails of the relevant page in many cases. —Google Debuts Desktop-Search Tool (Information Week)

I’ve already installed Google Desktop on my office computer (after unticking the box that gave Google permission to send generic data and feedback to Big Brother). I produce so many documents on a daily basis, and keep them in so many different places (my thumbdrive, an expansion card, in e-mail, in various work and archive folders) that I frequently don’t remember where I keep what. Sometimes I come up with a good idea that I leave in a comment on someone else’s blog, or I e-mail it to myself, or I tap it out in a textfile and tuck it in an obscure directory.

With Google’s desktop search, it’s completely irrelevant where I put it. Google is now one more step closer to realizing the “memory” component of Vannevar Bush’s “memex” (memory-index).

I spend a lot of time sorting my mail by category, but if it turns out I can depend on Google Desktop, I might just start leaving my e-mails in a big “filed” archive, without breaking them down by subjects.

I was uncomfortable letting GMail archive so much of my data, but I find the search capabilities of Google Desktop at least worth a look. I’ll let the alpha geeks figure out whether Google is honoring its promise not to steal any of my data.

Since students are turning in midterm papers and portfolios left and right, I was pretty busy Thursday afternoon and didn’t get much of a chance to play with it… but while waiting for it to download, I stumbled across Google’s photo-viewing tool, Picasa, and was extremely impressed. I have several free photo editing tools on my laptop, including ones that came with my computer, with digital cameras, or with Windows. None of the dumbed-down consumer products offer the power that a real photo editor offers, but most of the time I don’t need a real photo editor — I just need a way to crop, rotate, and resize photos (and maybe adjust the contrast). Picasa does all that, without forcing me to think in terms of “projects” and cluttering up the screen with menus or pestering me with “Are you sure you want to do that?” dialog boxes.