Forum

  • If you are new to these Forums, please take a moment to register using the fields above.

Announcement

Announcement Module
Collapse
No announcement yet.

The present state of desktop search

Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse
X
Conversation Detail Module
Collapse
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • The present state of desktop search

    I’m looking for a desktop search utility. I know there have been numerous threads on this topic in this forum, but the most recent one that deals specifically with desktop search utilities was nearly a year ago, even though this has been a very active area of software development. Copernic and X1 are two utilities that have often been mentioned. Some have enthusiastically endorsed Enfish Find, with which one can preview files without opening them in the corresponding applications. That would be quite nice, but I recently came across a recommendation for Enfish in a book and then found that Enfish has ceased development and support for the product and has licensed the technology to another company.

    I seem to recall that Marc Ochant preferred X1 a few years ago, after trying out most of the popular programs, but subsequently switched to the MSN Toolbar search. Just yesterday I was told that the MSN product will index and retrieve Adobe Acrobat documents, which I should think would be a real plus.

    I think I’m looking for something that:

    • Is Fast. I presume this means indexing the drive(s). But it should not degrade overall system performance. (I assume this means that it’s smart enough to do its indexing only while the system is idle.)
    • Can find and retrieve any pertinent piece of information, including documents whose existence I’ve forgotten. This would include e-mail messages both within Outlook but also those archived in an out-of-Outlook folder by MessageSave. Also pdf documents, in addition to all of the other standard formats. And how about Outlook Journal records too?
    • Can search local drives and also files or directories on a server. But not the Internet. (I think there are utilities that search both desktop and Internet, are there not?). The Google-type Internet search engines work fine, but I prefer to keep desktop searches separate.
    • Being able to preview retrieved files without opening applications—a la Enfish—would be great. And the ability to do Boolean searches would be useful.

    All that.... and perhaps keep a sixpack of beer cold on a hot afternoon. Any suggestions?

  • #2
    I use Google Desktop quite happily. It fits each of your criteria, except for preview. It does provide the first two lines of the document, which is generally enough for me.

    It's only a beta app though, so perhaps the final release will include Google Beer-Cooling Functionality (tm).

    Comment


    • #3
      I like X1. I don't know whether it can index saved messages outside Outlook, or Outlook Journal records, but it can definitely do everything else.

      I tried Copernic, but I couldn't get it to run on my system and couldn't get a useful or timely response from their support folks. I've since been happy with other Copernic products, so I may have just encountered a temporary glitch.

      Katherine

      Comment


      • #4
        As a Apple (OS 10.4) use I get the built in "Spotlight" search facitity. Very nice and very fast.

        Microsoft will be introducting a similar feature in it's upcoming "Vista" OS release (Qtr 1 2007). Until then you may wish to look at google search as some one pointed out.

        Comment


        • #5
          A LONG time ago, I tried Enfish. (Long = 199 I was disappointed. I've always been disappointed with Windows search "solutions". Every separate program has its own proprietary format, so the search programs need to reverse-engineer the format. This takes lots of time and money, so the search programs usually cost a lot. The indexing function was never smart enough to "turn down" its priority so that it didn't overwhelm my system. And no matter what, there was always an important file type I wanted to search that wasn't included in the program.

          There is an application system that does all this, and more. Unfortunately it's on the Linux operating system. Called Beagle, it indexes all of your different data (emails, chat logs, PDFs, Office files, graphics, etc.), and allows you to search it all. This is designed to work with anything, including a "universal search bar" built into the taskbar. It was mainly created for an application called Dashboard to provide what MIT called context and content-aware automatic search.

          Example: I begin writing an email to a colleague. I type her email addy (or choose it), and start to talk about that project #53 we're working on with John. As I continue to flesh out the email, the Dashboard begins to fill with John's contact information, the Word document that has the project specification, my bookmark to a relevant Intranet page, links to relevant emails I've swapped with her, and so on. Each of these includes previews of the item. This way, I am reminded of information I have on the topic without having to search for it.

          MIT created something similar to this years ago (2001-ish) as an add-on for a special text-only software program called Emacs which could write email, browse the web, write documents, and chat. Dashboard is designed to bring it into the GUI age.

          Problem is, Dashboard and Beagle are only available on versions of the Linux operating system.... for now. I was looking up supporting material for this post, and found a link that mentions it's possible (but tricky) to get the basic search engine, Beagle, working on Windows.
          http://www.windowsitpro.com/windowsp...ott_45839.html

          I realize not everyone uses this as their operating system of choice, but I do. So I want to put this out here for anyone else who may be looking for a solution like this.

          Comment


          • #6
            I've used a bunch of these tools, but the one I keep coming back to seems little known: it's Archivarius 3000. I wrote a review of it several months ago, which you might like to check out here. Disclaimer: I have no connection at all with the software developer, but simply like and use the product. I used the latest version of Google Desktop for a few months, mainly because I love the Quick Search feature, but I stopped using it because I didn't like that it was always scanning and running my hard-drives, whereas with Archivarius (and I believe with X1) you can schedule indexing.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by smithdoug
              I think I’m looking for something that:

              • Is Fast. I presume this means indexing the drive(s). But it should not degrade overall system performance. (I assume this means that it’s smart enough to do its indexing only while the system is idle.)
              • Can find and retrieve any pertinent piece of information, including documents whose existence I’ve forgotten. This would include e-mail messages both within Outlook but also those archived in an out-of-Outlook folder by MessageSave. Also pdf documents, in addition to all of the other standard formats. And how about Outlook Journal records too?
              • Can search local drives and also files or directories on a server. But not the Internet. (I think there are utilities that search both desktop and Internet, are there not?). The Google-type Internet search engines work fine, but I prefer to keep desktop searches separate.
              • Being able to preview retrieved files without opening applications—a la Enfish—would be great. And the ability to do Boolean searches would be useful.
              I heartily recommend Copernic. I've been using their desktop search for about a year now and have just switched over to the Beta of their version 2.

              It is fast - I don't time the indexing, but after the initial indexing of your hard drive, you won't even notice it. It indexes only when your machine isn't busy, and you can adjust those settings as well, e.g., mine will index if my machine is not busy for 2 minutes. In addition, you can have it set so that it indexes on the fly, i.e., as soon as a document changes. I've got this option set, and haven't noticed any performance problems. (Well, actually, when I first got the beta for version 2, this setting caused a bit of a problem when I came back to my machine after a while, but it was a beta after all. I contacted Copernic and within a week, they had sent me a patch which had fixed the problem - excellent customer support in my mind.) It's also fast while searching - amazingly so. I use the copernic toolbar and often before I finish typing, the search results are coming up. (As an aside, the toolbar is good for quick and dirty searches, but I prefer opening the main program so that I can see the location of my files, and the preview.)

              CDS finds everything that I need: standard office documents, pdfs, email in outlook (don't know about saved mail or journal entries, since I don't use those), contacts, favourites (and you can tell it to use Firefox), music, pictures, etc. etc. etc. You can set what kind of files you want it to look at (love this feature over Google and MSN when I was trying them out), and you can add new file extensions. This last is good for when you deal with say, .bat or .pl files. Since they're text, you can see the contents in a preview. For other strange extensions, you can just see the titles, but that's okay too.

              You can tell it what directories to search, or not search. I have no need to search my program files, so they're turned off, as are a couple of miscellaneous directories. You can even tell it what kind of thing to look for in a directory, e.g., just music or just files or everything. I just did a quick check, and when you add in a new folder/directory, you can browse to your network computers, so I think you should be able to look at networked drives no problem. And as far as I remember, it doesn't search online. I thought the older version did have that option, but I don't see it in my settings.

              The preview is awesome. You can see Word, Excel, PPT, text, HTML, etc. You can even see pdf content. (Sometimes the pdf isn't really pretty, but it's good enough to see the context of what you're searching for).

              Also, when searching, you can designate what kind of thing you want to search for, e.g., all, images, music, files, email, etc. You can also specify a file type, e.g., txt, doc, etc. You can specify even a location to look, if want to narrow things down a bit, and specify size and date. These last few I never even have to use because the basic search works so well for me. I have the results sorted by date (and grouped), so things that I access often are near the top of the list - this structure works well for me, since I can usually remember if I've worked on something yesterday, last week, last month, last year, etc.

              Anyway, I hope this review helps you. I've played with a few other desktop search programs but as far as I'm concerned, CDS takes the cake.

              Comment

              Working...
              X