Late last night, Google released the long-awaited Mac OS X version of their popular Google Desktop application, enabling Mac users to break away from Apple’s bundled Spotlight application and use the familiar Google interface to search local documents, e-mail, Web history and GMail archives from their Web browser. While the PC version, out for more than 30 months already, is more full-featured, including Widgets and a Dock-like news sidebar, the Mac version of Google Desktop offers the same level of index and search functionality.
Available from Google’s Mac software downloads page, the software is, as you would expect, very easy to get going. Download the .dmg file, expand it and click the application installer. The Google Updater application will download the needed application, and start the process of indexing. In addition to installing in your Applications folder, Google Desktop offers you a menubar icon and the option of installing in the Dock.
Then, the app really goes to work, crawling your local hard drive as if it were the World Wide Web. Almost three hours into the process, my own PowerBook hard drive is still crunching away, and the index reports more than 50,000 files are indexed so far. But from the very first file, you can search from Google Desktop – either by hitting the Command key twice in succession to bring up a floating app bar, or by selecting “Open Desktop Homepage” from the menubar icon. The desktop homepage button looks like Google.com, only with your Desktop being one of the available resources to query.
Floating Toolbar Search for the Term Backup
Instead of search results from Web sites around the globe, Google Desktop segments your own local results into categories of “E-mail”, “Web history”, “files”, “media” and “other”. In the two-plus years I’ve used the PC version, e-mail is 90% of what I search, with “files” taking the other 10%. Of course, that’s mainly because Microsoft Outlook doesn’t have the excellent search functionality already present in Apple’s Mail, and tons of .PST fields can be a beast, but I digress.
Google Indexing in Progress: Status
For me, I find Spotlight isn’t as intuitive as Google Desktop, and keyword searching is comparatively arduous. Google Desktop for the Mac is one of the very few applications available for Windows and not Mac that I’d really wanted, and it’s finally here. Download it today, and you’ll wonder how you functioned without it.