Google Desktop for Mac OS X Released


picture-1.png Finally, one less reason to use my Windows laptop at work.

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, 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.


Pierre Lourens

I agree with Craig that I prefer spotlight in the fact that it breaks results into categories. However, I am still sticking with Google Desktop because it searches my Gmail account and I recently switched to a completely web-based e-mail workflow.


I downloaded it and have been very pleased with the results. I like how it intergrates into my browser. I haven’t had any slow down issues that I noticed. When i do searches in spotlight I get more responses but in many ways this is overkill. If I type in the keywork work I get 3 thousand responses. Who wants to search through that. However I do like how spotlight puts everything into categories like applications and documents.


I love google desktop on any PC cos it does some of the job of spotlight and QS. But on my mac it chewed a huge amount of system resources and the only thing I want it for is to search my gmail. I installed and uninstalled again last night. not to mention google updater running constantly in the background. Looked suspiciously like malware, or crapware at the very least.

Dave M.

I’m sorry, but I really don’t understand why there is a need to replace Spotlight. I’m a recent switcher myself and I find Spotlight a huge improvement over anything I had ever used on Windows including Google Desktop.

I now use both Spotlight and Quicksilver. I use spotlight pretty much to find a file and show me it’s path without actually opening up a finder window. I know there is probably a way to do it with Quicksilver, but I’m still a little new with QS.

I guess I don’t understand this need to have tools that were on Windows on the Mac since I want to distance myself as far away from the Micorosoft/Windows world as I possibly can.


I expect to see a QS plugin for Google Desktop pretty quickly… I don’t think I’ll be installing GD though, at least not until I have time to go through the agreement and privacy policy. It just sounds way too ‘abusable’ (is that a word?) or maybe i’m overly paranoid – and I don’t have little snitch running anymore to keep an eye on things like this.


Kevin – Google are positioning it as complementary to both Quicksilver and Spotlight, but it seems to be more a Spotlight replacement than anything else. The only thing it has in common with QS is launching apps/files, really.

One rather major flaw: it’s taking an absolute age to index my files – I installed it about three hours ago, and it’s only indexed 2,000 or so files, so it’s not much use as yet!

Another flaw: it installs an input manager for all users, when I’d much prefer to keep stuff like that ~/Library/InputManagers/ (not to mention that input managers are a bit iffy, generally speaking).


For those of us who are using Quicksilver, how will Google Desktop compete/conflict with it? Is it a complementary app or is it a competing app?
While admittedly not having used Google Desktop yet, I’m questioning what benefits I can receive from it given my use of Quicksilver.
Has anyone else thought of that?

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