In principle, Google Desktop looks quite similar to Spotlight, the search technology included as standard in Mac OS X 10.4, but Google indicates that the two types of search are complementary. Like Spotlight, Google Desktop indexes your files. When you invoke the floating Google Desktop window (by pressing the Command key twice) and enter a query, the search results are displayed in a drop-down list below the query field. As in Spotlight, selecting a file in the list opens it with the original application.
Google Desktop has some advantages over Spotlight. Many users complain that Spotlight finds it difficult to search for files by name alone; with Google Desktop you just have to enter “filename: penguin” to display all files that contain the word penguin in their name. In the same way, the restrictions in the queries allow to indicate the type of file as well as the date. Google Desktop also searches for some types of content that are not supported by Spotlight, such as Gmail messages or web browsing history. Although Google Desktop respects the privacy list defined in Spotlight (which can be assigned through system preferences), users most concerned about privacy issues are likely to be unhappy with Google Desktop caching deleted content. . You cannot deactivate this feature, although you can indicate that the results corresponding to the deleted results are not displayed.
Google Desktop is somewhat faster showing results compared to Spotlight; although they may be less relevant. For example, if I write the name of a contact, Spotlight will show the Agenda record as the main result, while on Google Desktop it will appear among a whirlwind of emails and other documents (in some cases including spam messages).
Like Spotlight, Google Desktop can eat up all your CPU cycles when it’s indexing your computer’s content. In day-to-day use, it seems that it does not severely affect the performance of the computer, although its auxiliary processes can consume up to 100 MB of memory.
If you are a power user dissatisfied with the speed of Spotlight or its lack of ability to use complex searches based on Boolean type queries, then you will think of Google Desktop as a search engine improvement, in addition to being a free product. But don’t expect the same kind of magical Google Desktop results that you’re used to when using web search.