I finally got around to installing Google Desktop on my Windows laptop (now that I’m no longer constrained by a ruthless SysAdmin). My initial impression: I love it.
I tried out each of the modes available (Sidebar, Deskbar, and Floating Deskbar), and found that the plain old Deskbar works best for how I use it. It just sits on the task bar in the bottom right waiting for me to use it. I also set up the Outlook search bar, which almost makes Outlook as good as Gmail for findability of old e-mails. (In fact, I pull my Gmail down into Outlook via PoP3, mainly so I have all my accounts available in one place, on- or off-line.)
While it is handy to be able to find files, documents, and e-mails very quickly, I’d have to say my favorite aspect of Google Desktop is that it finds and makes available offline cached web sites I’ve visited. Right now, for instance, I’m sitting in the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport and unable to connect to the HotSpot they have. I wanted to read in detail a site I glanced at last night. Instead of having to save the page last night, I just go into Google Desktop today.
I’ve also been using Spotlight on my iMac, but haven’t quite given it the workout that Google Desktop has received. First impressions there are very favorable as well.
What about Getting Things Done ®?
When Google Desktop first came out, I remember reading a posting by David Allen of GTD fame in which he lamented the “disorganization” that a desktop search would bring. Having used Google Desktop for a while now, I have to say that I disagree with that assessment.
I use GTD (at least, a “customized” version of it) to help me through the various projects I am involved in. The GTD Outlook Add-in is invaluable. But I do so much reading, research, and writing online outside of my formal processes that it is impossible (or, at the least, impractical) to impose any kind of structure on them. Google Desktop allows me to indulge the free-association part of my brain. When I need information to support a project, it is just a few keystrokes away.