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How often do you hear, "I Googled this" or "Try Googling that"? Now our favorite Web search engine has gotten more personal, indexing the contents of your computer's local hard drive. Google Desktop Search isn't breaking new ground; , , and Yahoo Desktop Search also find information on your computer in seconds, and all (including Google) are free. But Google Desktop Search is definitely among the best.
Installing Google Desktop Search takes just a few minutes, but it may take hours before the program is fully functional. After downloading and installing the 721K setup file, you'll need to wait for Google to index the hard disk. This took several hours in our tests, even though the program said it would complete the job in about an hour of computer "idle time." (Google and other local search tools index your drive only when your PC is not in use.) Google Desktop Search is best for Google devotees who want a one-stop shop for local and Web searches. It's fast and free.
Is Google the best desktop search tool? Not exactly. We still like Copernic Desktop Search better. But Google Desktop Search is very good, particularly with its time-saving ability to search files, e-mail, instant message chats, and Web site histories at the same time, then display the matches in a single list. Like its competitors, Google inserts a handy search window icon in the Windows Taskbar. Another plus is that the Google Desktop Search tool is seamlessly integrated with Google Web search, allowing you to scan the Net and your PC with a single query.
However, Google falls short in two areas. First, it lacks a file viewer--both Copernic and Yahoo have one--for previewing matches without having to launch an associated program, Microsoft Word to view a DOC file, for instance. (Google does show thumbnails of image files, though.) Second, it lacks a media player--Yahoo has this--for audio and video clips.
Is Google fast? Absolutely. Our queries produced hits within a second or two. But rating the performance of local search engines is like comparing a Ferrari and a Maserati: they're all blink-of-an-eye quick.