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Google Desktop
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Google Desktop

From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia, by MultiMedia

Google Desktop is Google's version of the desktop search that runs locally on a Windows XP or Windows 2000 SP3+ PC. The desktop search program allows full text search of all of one's e-mail, computer files, music, photos, chat, and Web pages that one has viewed.

Google Desktop 2 Beta was released on August 22, 2005. The new feature that distinguishes Desktop 2 from Desktop is the addition of Sidebar, a panel that displays personalized information, which can be placed on either side of the Windows desktop and can display real-time news, e-mail, photos, stocks, and weather, among others. Sidebar includes a search box that can search just the PC or Google's other search types (like Web, Images, News, Groups.)

Google Desktop 2.0 Final graduated from beta on November 3, 2005. New features include a sidebar plug-in for Google Maps and more plug-in developer support.

Google Desktop Google Desktop Logo

The GDS Sidebar sits on the user's desktop and displays relevant information.

Maintainer: Google

Latest release: 2.0 / November 3rd, 2005

OS: Microsoft Windows

Genre: desktop search

Website: Desktop.Google.com/

GDS Sidebar



After initially installing Desktop, the software completes a full indexing of all the files mentioned above, after the initial indexing is completed the software continues to index files as needed. Users can start searching for files immediately after installing the program. After performing searches, results are returned in an Internet browser on the Desktop Home Page much like the results for Google Web searches.


Like other Desktop search programs, Desktop indexes all the user's files for efficient searching. This is unlike Windows XP's built-in search function which scans whole files instead of a list. For a better understanding, consider this comparison: If one is trying to find the title of a chapter of a book in a library Windows XP's search will search through all the books in the library, whereas Desktop scans the card catalog, a time-saving process.

Current supported file types are:

  • E-mail
    • Gmail
    • Outlook
    • Outlook Express
    • Netscape Mail
    • Mozilla Mail
    • Mozilla Thunderbird
  • Web history
    • Internet Explorer
    • Netscape / Firefox / Mozilla
  • Microsoft Office documents
    • Word
    • Excel
    • PowerPoint
  • Instant messenger chats
    • AOL Instant Messenger
    • MSN Messenger
  • Other
    • PDF
    • Music
    • Video
    • Images
    • More file types available through use of plug-ins.


Google Desktop features the following functionality (not a complete list):


The main new feature with Google Desktop is its sidebar. The side bar consists of several panels which display information. The Sidebar comes pre-packed with the following panels:

  • Email - a panel which lets one view one's Gmail messages.
  • Scratch Pad - here one can store random notes; they are saved automatically
  • Photos - displays a slideshow of photos from the "My Pictures" folder (address can be changed)
  • News - shows the latest headlines from Google News, and how long ago they were written. The News panel is personalized depending on the type of news you read.
  • Quick View - gives a list of recently viewed Web pages, including the option to make some of them one's favourites, so they always stay at the top of the list.
  • Web Clips - shows recent posts from your favourite RSS feeds.
  • Google Talk - If you have Google talk installed, double clicking the window title will dock it to one's sidebar.

When minimized, the sidebar will become either a Deskbar, or a Floating Deskbar, depending on which one was displayed last. The default is a Floating Deskbar. To minimize the sidebar, click on the horizontal line in the top-right hand corner of the sidebar. Like the Windows Taskbar, the GDS sidebar can be set to Auto-Hide mode, where it will only appear once the user moves his or her mouse towards the side where it resides. If not on auto-hide, the sidebar will always take up about 1/6 of one's screen, and other windows are forced to resized. With the auto-hide feature on, the sidebar temporarily overlaps your maximised window.

Additional panels can be downloaded from Google Desktop Plugins.

All plugins can be moved and reordered. Several options are also available for each panel.

Another feature that comes with the sidebar is alerts. When the Sidebar is minimized (see above) new e-mail and news can be displayed on a pop-up window above your Windows Task Bar. This is configurable via the main sidebar menu, accessible by clicking on the arrow in the top-right of the sidebar.

Quick Find

When searching in your sidebar, deskbar or floating deskbar, Google Desktop displays a "Quick Find" window. This window is filled with 6 (number can be changed) most relevant results from your computer, so you can get to what you want on your computer without having to open another browser window.


Deskbars are not a new feature to Google Deskbar. They are a box which enables one to type in your search query directly from one's desktop. Web results will open in a browser window, and selected computer results will be displayed in the "Quick Find" box (see above). A Deskbar can either be a fixed deskbar, which sits in your Windows Taskbar, or a Floating Deskbar, which one may position anywhere one wants on one's desktop.

Google Desktop add-in for Microsoft Outlook

A new feature is an add-in for Microsoft Outlook. It enables one to search all of one's Outlook e-mails using Google Desktop's Index, rather than using Outlook's inefficient search functions.

Google Desktop add-in for Microsoft Outlook Express

It allow to search Outlook Express e-mails using Google Desktop's Index, direct from Outlook Express toolbar. Google Desktop Search for Outlook Express.


Google offers an SDK for people who wish to write plug-ins for Google Desktop. These plug-ins can increase the functionality of the program, such as allowing for indexing of more file types or addition of panels to the sidebar.


Current limitations of the Google Desktop system are:

  • No substring search support
  • No boolean search support
  • Google Desktop indexes only the first 10,000 words. Thus many documents may be missing from the results page. According to the Google FAQ, this limit cannot be changed.


Google Desktop was originally developed in the wake of file and Web search capabilities that would be offered in the next major release of Microsoft Windows called Vista, formerly codenamed Longhorn (slated for release in 2006). Some claim that Google Desktop, as well as Vista's Desktop Search, was inspired by Spotlight, a competing technology that is currently being shipped with Mac OS X v10.4.

Desktop received much attention because it may allow reverse engineering of Google's proprietary search algorithm.

See also

External links

Google Guide made by MultiMedia | Free content and software

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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