Microsoft Technology

Desktop Search

You can’t live without a desktop search utility installed now. Though Copernic and X1 have been there around for years, the need for this became clear only with Google entering the arena and Microsoft announcing similar capabilities in their Longhorn OS.

Almost a year back, I started using Lookout – which is being offered free from MSN Sandbox by Microsoft. I instantly started seeing it benefits, with the ability to find emails accurately and that too in seconds (unlike minutes or hours that Outlook otherwise takes). I quickly realized I can also have it index by Data partition in my hard drive, which really helps in finding stuffs especially if you have GBs of Data and the files go back several years in time. I normally keep my data files in a seperate partition (D:\) which is different from my OS partitions. This way I need to backup only one partition and will get back all my stuffs – emails, files, favourites, etc.  Within this partition, I keep the files in meaningful folders that normally go by the year (2001, 2002, etc.) inside each categories – main folders (Photos, Softwares, Emails, Documents, etc.). Once I started using a Desktop search, I became slightly complacent in following this rule, but anyways that is not my story today.

Though I liked Lookout, when Google launched their beta desktop search, I downloaded and tried it. The speed with which the results came back at you was amazing. Though I missed the ability to conveniently put filter criterias (From Date, To Date, From a sender, etc.) like in Lookout, I should say it was impressive. Quickly I had to remove it, because it required Administrative privileges and my normal userID doesn’t have that permission for security reasons. By then MSN Toolbar Desktop Search came and I have been using till yesterday. Comparing with Google, what I liked in MSN was mainly two things – 1) It runs perfectly under non-admin users as well, 2) The ability to double-click on an email shown in results and easily have the email opened in Outlook. Other than ability to search IE History there is nothing major that I was missing in MSN search, anyways just for a change I was looking at alternatives.

I tried X1 (and the Yahoo version of the same), it was definitely very impressive when it comes to relevance and speed (in fact, PC Magazine had recently voted it as the Editors choice) but I was not comfortable with the UI, it was a bit “Old”. So I kept searching – I remembered about Copernic Desktop Search. Few months back my Sister in Law who has hundreds of word documents in her PC, was finding it difficulting in managing her files, I recommended she install a Desktop Search. It turned out that she had Windows ME and non of the popular Desktop Searches (Yahoo, Google or MSN) work on Windows 9x. It was then I found Copernic and recommended it to her.

Remembering this, I downloaded and installed Copernic Desktop Search. Though it took a long time to index my hard-drive, I am happy with its functionality. Watch out for more of my comments on this topic, as I start using it on a daily-basis.

Tip: On installing Copernic Desktop Search, one thing I didn’t like was its default web search goes to Alltheweb.com. I wanted it to go to Google.com or MSN Search. I searched and searched, but couldn’t find a way to do the change in the default UI of the application. A quick search in RegEdit utility revealed the key and I got it working my way.  The key name is URL and it is found here “HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Copernic\DesktopSearch\Meta\Categories\TheWeb”. I have given below registry (.reg) files that you can use to switch it to Google or MSN Search. Remember to download the file, rename the .txt extension to .reg and double-click on them. Since Copernic Desktop Search caches this hive, you may need to log off and login for the change it to take forward.

– Set it to Google Search

– Set it to MSN Search

You can also download this registry file, rename it to .reg and double-click on it, to have your web search in Copernic set to Google.

Just after I started using Copernic Search, within days MSN released the final version of its Windows Desktop Search  (WDS). On my evaluation in my desktop, WDS seems to be impressive, especially its built-in preview and IFilter Extensions. I think the game has completed just one lap!