It’s Google’s world and we just live in it…
Is there any week in which Google doesn’t announce some new service, feature, piece of software or something? Recently they have released a new version of Picasa, my favorite choice for photo album software, shown a pre-beta version of the Google Reader (a future commentary), debuted Google Print (which I will be talking about in detail shortly), and brought Google Desktop 2 out of beta.
Let’s talk about this last item right now as I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned Google Desktop here. With Microsoft maybe choosing to remove their own sidebar software from the next version of Windows to offer you easy access to information tools, you should take a look at Google Desktop. It is an interesting piece of software you can download now and not worry about what Microsoft may or may not do in the next version of Windows.
You can use Google Desktop as just a piece of software which indexes all your local documents (email, text files, Word documents, etc.) and then use a local search to search both it and the main Google website. It’s arguably much faster than crude search systems like the one built into Windows, it doesn’t cost anything, etc. But if you only use it that way you miss out on some of its best features. That’s because if you have the screen real estate to accomodate it (as I am lucky enough to on my widescreen laptop and on my dual screen system at work), it will display news, weather, pull email from various accounts (including Google Mail if you already use that), updates to web pages you’ve visited recently, etc. Plus, it allows all sorts of plug-ins to expand both its ability to search into different file formats and offer other features (like Google Maps support). If you have some screen real estate you can devote to it, this is a good app to start and leave running. I’m certain you’ll find yourself using it.