I installed google desktop search, but not for long …
A friend recently pointed out that google have just released their desktop search product in beta, everything google does seems to be in beta, a few hours before almost everyone on my blogroll also reported the fact!
Anyway like thousands of other bloggers I quickly installed it. At first I was none too happy with it though. It did not ask me where to store its index, what file types to index, which areas to index. In fact it seemed way too simple to setup. So I uninstalled it worrying that it was going to go away and index every file on my two 120G disks. Well I should have looked a bit harder at the FAQ and when I did I realised that it can take such a simple approach to life because it only indexes Office documents and HTML files, and these don’t take up anywhere near as much space. However I guess, but have not checked, that it did index my multiple backup areas.
So having reinstalled it what do I think. Well to be honest I don’t like it all that much. I have huge numbers of files, often many versions of the same file and I find the google interface clumsy to navigate around compared to the file search optimised interface of X1. I particularly like the preview capability to X1 and its ability to do type down searches from multiple perspectives. For example in X1 I often search like this, find me all the word documents, with “programme definition” in the file name, that I wrote in 2004. Sometimes this is trims the list to 3 or 4 documents and I can easily find the one I want, sometimes I need to add containing “some phrase”. Even then I sometimes use the preview to glance at say, the documents change history; to be really sure. It’s not anywhere near as easy with google. Sure google desktop, just like it does on the web, will find plenty of matches; but my experience so far is that far too many of them are poor matches and I have to wade through pages to get to the document I want.
There is probably some great advanced search syntax I can use to do the same query I did in X1, but it would still lack the visual “type down” feedback and the preview.
Having said all that the very next thing I did was install it on my wifes PC. She has probably 2-300 files and is constantly complaining she can not find stuff, and is nervous around computers. I showed her google desktop and she was relaxed and instantly at home. She loved it, and so will 95% or more of google’s existing loyal userbase, the same users who will probably love gmail and never go back to Outlook.
Ultimately that’s the beauty of the google approach, simple, fast and familiar. Behind the scenes I am sure google are cooking up some great extensibility features just as they have with google and gmail, but they are getting the basic stuff right first time and if my wifes typical – and I am sure she is – they will succeed.
By the way, if you want to read a good review, have a look at this one.