Google Desktop

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Google Desktop

Bottom Line

Although privacy issues are a concern, if you are vigilant we feel that they are outweighed by the benefits.

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If your computer is awash with documents, e-mails, instant messages, cached Web pages - making finding anything close to impossible - try Google Desktop.

Using the same techniques as the company's Web search engine, Google Desktop is designed to help you seek out elusive information on your PC. When you first install the software it indexes everything on your hard drive - from documents and files to e-mail messages. Even information stored within chat sessions and cached Web pages you have visited is included. The indexing process runs constantly to ensure that you can always search through all your most recent data. If you want to exclude anything, you can do so from Preferences.

Once your PC is indexed, you can search it either by clicking on the icon that appears in your toolbar or visiting http://desktop.google.com where the desktop search option is also displayed. The results are presented in much the same way as Internet searches, except that the icon beside each one shows you if it is an e-mail, Web page, Word document and so on. Clicking on a listed result either takes you directly to the original or shows you how to find it.

Although Google Desktop is invaluable, it does throw up some privacy issues. If you install it on a public PC then anyone can search through your Web, e-mail and chat history unless you switch this option off.

On a home PC this is still a problem unless you use multiple accounts. In that case, only the user who installed it can use the utility, so it indexes the data just for that account.

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