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Google Desktop finally hits Macs

Free Google tool available for Apple's Mac OS

Google has released a Mac version of its Google Desktop tool for the first time. Mac users already have a search tool with Apple’s Spotlight, but Google said its utility will work alongside the Mac OS X 10.4 feature perfectly.

“We designed Google Desktop for Mac to be a companion for Spotlight,” said Rose Yao, Google Desktop for Mac product manager. “Google Desktop searches users’ web history and you can set it up to search Gmail too.”

Google Desktop will also use any Spotlight plug-ins users have on their systems. There is no need for developers to have to rewrite plug-ins specifically for Google. The application also respects Spotlight’s privacy list and will not search those items.

Using Google Desktop quick search is kind of like launching a Widget without the need to go into Dashboard, according to Google. Two taps on the Command key brings up a small search window - as soon as you start typing, Google begins showing results, whether it’s a document or an application.

The results window shows the last 10 items that match your search query. If you didn’t find what you were looking for, you can click a link on the bottom of the results to see all the items found.

This launches your default web browser and opens a page that looks exactly like the Google search page on the web. The results page shows you how many of each type of document Google Desktop found. It shows results for email, web history, files, media and others.

The results page in your browser also has a search box, so you can continue to search your hard drive from there if you want to. Of course, you also have the option to search the web for your search query as well.

If you go to Google’s online search page and have Google Desktop installed, you will notice a new search criteria. ‘Desktop’ has been added to Web, Images, News and Maps. If you do a search and click on Desktop, Google will show you the local results it found.

Google representatives said that during an integrated search, your computer’s content is not sent to Google. Further, Google does not see or record your Google Desktop results without your permission. If you are still concerned, you can choose to disable the integration option in the preferences.

Google Desktop can also help you find deleted files. According to the company, Google Desktop creates cached copies (or snapshots) of your files and other items each time you view them, and stores these copies on your Mac’s hard drive. As a result, you can often use Desktop to find prior versions of your files or ones you’ve accidentally deleted.

Google said there is no Gadget integration in this version, but that will come in a later version.

“This is a big step for Google on the Mac platform,” Yao said. “If you know how to use Google, you know how to use Google Desktop for Mac.”


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