I like Google. So much is oh so free. Google search. Google maps. Google Earth. Google email. It’s a healthy list of free tools.
Google Desktop is free. You get exactly what you pay for. A Mac desktop not ready for prime time. Why does Google do this for Mac users?
I assume that if you have almost as much money as God, and a stock price at a similar point somewhere in the heavens, you can do what you want. I just can’t figure out what Google wants.
The “free” part is nice. Google Desktop is available in mildly different versions for Windows, Linux, and now, finally, on the Mac. It wasn’t worth the wait.
The skinny is that Google is looking for another way to make money, so they come up with a few dozen web-based applications for Mac and Windows sufferers, and call them “Google Something—Beta.” The Desktop is beta.
The Desktop is also a search application that lets you find information on your Mac and from the web, almost as if the two were connected. Like you have as many files on your Mac as the rest of the Google-searched web has.
I’m confused about the promotional copy which states that “Desktop make searching your own email, files, music, photos, and more, as easy as searching the web with Google.”
Granted, that’s pretty easy. Click to the home page, enter a few keywords, press the return key on your shiny new aluminum Mac keyboard. Done. Repeat. Rinse.
Is the Mac search wheel not being re-invented here? If I’m in Mail on my Mac, I can search all my email. If I’m in the Finder, I can search all my files. All of them. Email, music, photos, and more. Mac users call it Spotlight. It’s also free on every new Mac.
The real difference here is that Google insists, accurately so, that “Not everything you’re looking for lives on your Mac.” There’s the rest of the web and Google owns that search method, hands down.
Desktop, once installed, begins indexing your Mac the way Spotlight does. Spotlight returns search results in a few seconds. Desktop does so a few seconds after that. Or, longer. Search results on your Mac look like search results from a Google web page. You can also search both web and your Mac, or just one or the other.
One feature of Desktop looks promising but doesn’t have the pizzazz of Mac OS X Leopard’s Time Machine backup utility. Desktop does File Versioning, which creates cached copies (similar to the cached pages of web sites in Google’s search engine) of “your files and other items each time you view them, and stores these copies on your Mac’s hard drive.”
The caveat is that you have to view the file first, then Google caches it. Time Machine just takes a snapshot of everything on your Mac.
It could not be much easier to get started with Desktop. You get a familiar black and white Google search bar, a link to Preferences, and the rest is hidden away. Indexing may take a few hours on a large hard drive with many files. Yes, it’s OK to tell Desktop not to index some items, just as you would Spotlight.
Preferences are typical Mac—sparse. Your browser (usually Safari) acts as the Search Results window.
I really hope that the Desktop index of my files stays on my Mac, but I can see a logical step in the future whereby a search across multiple Macs or Windows PCs is possible and allowable. It creeps me out, though.
Frankly, I’m not yet into this whole “index everything, search anything” method, ala Spotlight, or Desktop, or whatever. I prefer to organize my files the old fashioned way—in folders where I know what’s what and where. Indexing and searching is fine, but knowing is better.
Do you use Spotlight on your Mac? Why? Have you tried Google’s Desktop for Mac? Share your concerns, beefs, and opinions in the Comments section below.