Google Desktop’s final version adds some nice new features. It indexes and searches through sites you’ve visited in Firefox/Nestcape/Mozilla, as well as through mail in Thunderbird and Netscape email. It now tackles PDF files and music, image and video files. It can be run as a floating input box, or an input box in on your taskbar, although I’ve yet to get it to work on the taskbar. And it allows for plug-ins that extend its functionality.
But it still suffers from a fatal flaw: It treats your PC as if it were the Web, and so doesn’t let you fine-tune your searches. So, for example, you can’t search by folder, and you can’t search for email based on whether it has an attachment or not. You can’t specifically search To: and From: and other email fields. There are plenty of other similar shortcomings, and all because it refuses to recognize specific file attributes or the organization of your hard disk.
MSN Desktop Search, by contrast, was built to search with Windows in mind, and so does a far better job of searching. Want to find an email sent to you in a specific month from a specific person and that has an attachment over certain size? It’s easy to do. Want to search by file type in specific folders? You can do that, and a lot more as well.
Still, I run both MSN Desktop and Google Desktop simultaneously, and I use Google Desktop on occasion. It’s great for searching through web pages I’ve visited, for example. And I also use it to find emails I’ve deleted, because it keeps the text of those documents, something that MSN Desktop doesn’t do. But when it comes to the daily work of searching, MSN Desktop Search comes out on top.
Which do you think is better — Google Desktop or MSN Desktop Search?