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Washington Post recommends Google Desktop

What Google did for Web searching, Google Desktop -- available in a beta-test form at for Windows 2000 and XP -- does for file finding. Once installed, it quickly builds a database of the non-system files on your computer's hard drive, then indexes the contents of many commonly used types of files -- Web pages viewed in Internet Explorer, e-mail read in Microsoft's Outlook and Outlook Express mail programs, America Online instant messages, Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files, and text files.

This indexing has yet to have any detectable effect on the performance of two PCs I've put Google Desktop on, despite its ludicrous speed. New e-mails turned up in Google Desktop's search results within six minutes of their arrival, and freshly viewed Web pages were indexed even faster, within about 10 seconds.

Since Google Desktop's index is updated so often, it also tracks changes to text and Microsoft Office files. Click a file's name in a Google Desktop window to open that file in whatever program created it; click the "cached" link to view older versions within your browser window. Only the text of them appears, which works fine for most Word and text documents; Excel and PowerPoint files, however, usually look like gibberish without their formatting and graphics.

Google Desktop Outshines Windows' File-Search Capabilities