officially released their Desktop Search program for searching files on your own computer, including Web history and chat files (combined, if you choose, with a general Google search of the Web). It's downloadable from http://desktop.google.com/.
I've not had the chance to check it out properly yet so I don't know how it compares to the beta version which I'd been trying out and found quite erratic in its indexing, especially of Outlook email (see my previous post on GDS). Search results have often been numerous and hard to wade through, even when ranked by "relevance" rather than date, which sort of makes sense as, unlike their Net search, this tool can't (I assume) rank results according to the number of links made between internal documents on your own hard drive.
However, according to the press release it now searches PDFs too, and works with Firefox and Thunderbird at last. (I've certainly noticed that on going to the standard Google search page on the Net via Firefox as well as IE, there's a "Desktop" link over the search box. It would make sense if that link's only there for people who have GDS already installed.)
Google also say it now searches metadata stored with music, image and video files (title, artist etc). And there's a free standing search box you can put on your desktop.
Other very good news - "Google Desktop Search will also provide application programming interfaces (APIs) that enable software developers to create new and innovative applications using the desktop search product. Plug-ins developed with these APIs will be made available for download at http://desktop.google.com/plugins, enabling users to search new content types such as Trillian chats and the full-text of scanned images, such as faxes. More information on the Desktop Search APIs can be found on the web at http://desktop.google.com/apis."
Sadly it's very Microsoft and PC-centric - it's not available for Macs or Linux, for instance.
There are of course serious security and privacy implications, as I mentioned in my previous post, and therefore some essential precautions you should take when installing it (which I intend to post more on once I've figured out the differences - some are listed in my previous post). At least password-protected documents are no longer automatically indexed. But when you delete a non-passworded document, it can still be recovered via GDS - which could be good, or could be bad, depending. Let's hope they've introduced an easy way to purge selected documents.
(It's interesting that the top 5 questions on the GDS help pages include "How can I uninstall Desktop Search"! Though that may be because you have to uninstall the beta before you can install 1.0, probably losing your old index in the process, which I won't be very happy about if true).
I'll report more when I've had the chance to see what version 1.0 now does and how it performs.
I do know that I want wildcard searching and tags, and I want to be able to save certain Web pages in the cache forever, not until the GDS cache fills up!
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