Finding your stuff

Finding things on your computer can be very difficult especially when some time has passed since you last saw that particular e-mail or document that you now desperately need.

Window’s built-in search feature is pretty slow, to say the least, and you can wait for forever while it grinds ponderously through the files on your hard drive. That is especially true when you don’t know the document name and all you can remember about it is that it mentions your dog Spot.

In the old days you might have given up and re-written your novel but now there’s Google Desktop, which is one of the niftiest pieces of software you’ll find in a long time. You can download it free from http://www.google.co.za/ and, as its only 2Mb in size, that doesn’t take long at all.

All you then do is double-click the file to install it and it goes off and takes note of everything on your computer including MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Outlook Express files. There are many other types of files that it can keep track of including web pages, zipped files, Adobe Acrobat files and a whole host of others including video, pictures and sound files.

The really cute thing is that it not only remembers where your files are, but it looks inside those that contain any sort of text and remembers all of that as well. Once its active, it adds any new file you create, e-mail you receive, or web page that you visit to its list.

Once Google Desktop has finished doing its indexing thing, it sits in the System Tray on your Task Bar until you need to find that document about Spot. You double-click the icon, type the word ‘spot’ into the space provided, and hit Enter.

A second or two later, Google Desktop will show a list of every file on your computer which contains the word Spot. It will even show you pictures with the word in the title and it’s then just a matter of selecting the file you want to use.

It’s a little program but it’s seriously brilliant and even integrates with Google when you do a web search. It will tell you whether the word or words that you’re looking for occur on your computer before giving you the list of websites where they occur.

I’ve using Google Desktop for a number of months but only upgraded to the new version very recently. It now has a thing called Sidebar which lives on your desktop and can display a variety of info including calendars, notepads, news headlines or random pictures from your computer.

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