Google rules. They release a seemingly endless array of cool products and a seemingly constant pace. Everytime they turn around they are releasing some product that I use almost daily.  Yet there is one product that I use daily that isn’t perfect, or even particularly good: Google Desktop.

The best feature of Google Desktop is the ability to hit <ctrl> twice and have a search window pop up. The list of flaws is endless.  My first issue with the product is that if you quickly type in your term (ie. ‘mysql_connect’) and hit enter, its first inclination is to do a web search. This is a huge flaw in my mind; I downloaded Google Desktop to search my desktop not to have a faster interface to the web -quite frankly the Ctrl-K in Firefox to put focus in the Google search bar is fast enough.

The second issue that I have is the workflow to search for something specific in some specific location.  My standard workflow goes something like:

  • Hit <Ctrl> twice
  • Type in search term
  • Select ‘Search Desktop’
  • Get results page
  • Select ‘Advanced Search’
  • Click ‘files’ radio box
  • Select  ‘Enter other type…’
  • Type in file type (ie xml or php)
  • Select in location browse…
  • Browse to the location I want to search
  • Hit search.

Its at this point that I may have some results. There are huge flaws in this behavior. Why are they advanced options not visible on the page, they are not that advanced. Why do I have to select ‘Enter other type…’ to tell it what type I want, I should just be able to enter the file type I want, as well it would be nice if the file type I entered would get added to the drop down list. Now the location I want to search is saved to the list, but I don’t like having to use dropdowns and it only saves 3 items. I would like it to be able to type and have it auto complete.

Now is there a better option? Yes there is! Copernic Desktop Search Engine has a much nicer UI that is greatly easier to navigate. Why do I not use it? Because my version has a bug where if I enter things in quotes -ie. “require_once(‘fileName”  it will find nothing- so it is unusable to me.

What does Google need to do to fix the desktop search? Well for starters improve the search results window to make easier use of advanced options. After that is complete then it can start looking for other intelligent googlesque usages. Such as a right-click in Windows Explorer that had a ‘Search With Google…’ option. This would allow you to quickly search a folder that you are in for a term. What a great feature, windows has it, but it is terribly slow an ineffective. Oh well perhaps the support is better in Windows Vista and windows will win the desktop search battle because Google is throwing it away.

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