Testing Desktop Search Tools

Yesterday I just tested 3 free Desktop Search Tools (freeware not free trial) in order to make things easier for me to search for specific words located on many text files on my hard drive. But just in case you didn’t know what Desktop Search means, here are some descriptions about it taken from Wikipedia

Desktop search is the name for the field of search tools which search the contents of a user’s own computer files, rather than searching the Internet. These tools are designed to find information on the user’s PC, including web browser histories, e-mail archives, text documents, sound files, images and video.

Desktop search engines build and maintain an index database to achieve reasonable performance when searching several gigabytes of data. Indexing usually takes place when the computer is idle and most search applications can be set to suspend it if a portable computer is running on batteries, in order to save power.

In other words Desktop Search Tools basically is just the same as your own search engine with the exception it’s used to index files stored on your computer. And the index can grow larger depending on how many files the Desktop Tools indexed

And I guess that’s enough for the introduction part, now here goes the test results (I know that probably some of you don’t like to read long texts so I’ll just put the plus and minus of each program) but first as a note, that this is based on my personal preference after doing some test with these Desktop Search tools

Google Desktop Search (GDS)

Google Desktop Search Screenshot

Download Link :

Tested Version: Google Desktop 5.7.0801.01629-en-pb


  1. Easy to set up, basically all you have to do is just install it and you just need to wait for it to index your files
  2. Support Google product such as Gmail, so you can use it to search your Gmail inbox (you can guess the reason for that)
  3. Support searching across computers (make sure to read the privacy notes)
  4. Support searching Thunderbird by default (since I’m not using Outlook I can’t give you any info about this)
  5. Support many files type
  6. Support displaying files inside archive, and more (rar, zip, etc) with the correct plug-ins installed


  1. Takes a long time to index your computer for the initial indexing, because Google Desktop only start crawling your computer when your computer is in idle state only
  2. No Force Indexing button to force indexing your computer even if it’s not in idle state
  3. There’s no GUI to change the default index location, because you’ll need to edit it manually on Google Desktop registry settings

Special Notes:

If you’re using Google Desktop Enterprise which is bundled with Google Group Policy Templates (although you’ll need to import it manually) you can adjust most of the options from there (including some settings that is not previously can only be edited via registry) and you can also adjust it for current user only or for all users. Here’s a screenshot of how the Google Group Policy Settings look like

Google Desktop Search Enterprise Group Policy
(Click at the image to see the full size)

Windows Desktop Search

Windows Desktop Search Screenshot

Tested Version : Windows Desktop Search 3.01

Download Link:


  1. User can force Indexing of files even if your computer is in use, that means fast indexing of your files
  2. User can adjust the stored index location without the need to open the registry
  3. Search results displayed on it’s own Window or within the deskbar
  4. Support Microsoft Outlook by default without the need of additional plug-ins
  5. Support Network Share
  6. Automatically integrated into Windows Explorer without the need for plug-in but if you prefer the old search function you can always use the Default Search Companion
  7. Configured to index many files by default and you can add desired file extension to be indexed easily within the GUI and adjust it so it’ll display the content automatically or just displaying it’s filename only

Windows Desktop Search integrated into Explorer


  1. The default indexed directory after installation is set to User Documents and Settings only so make sure to adjust it
  2. It’s quite disturbing to replace the default windows search companion with the Windows desktop search that requires the folder to be indexed first
  3. Lack Thunderbird support. It’d be better if they could support Thunderbird by default but I’m not sure whether they’ll support it. As a side note actually there’s support for Thunderbird with plug-in but since it’s still has some limitations I choose to skip it

Copernic Desktop Search

Copernic Desktop Search Home Edition 2

Tested Version: Copernic Desktop Search Home Edition 2.3

Download Link:


  1. Support many files type and if you need more you can add it so it’ll be indexed, in other words it can also act as your normal search function
  2. Amazingly Fast Indexing and you can always force it to index your files even if your computer is not in idle state
  3. Built-in support for Thunderbird, Outlook / Outlook Express and Eudora email client programs
  4. Results displayed inside the program window and can also be displayed within the deskbar
  5. You can adjust everything from the configuration window


  1. Most archive (other than zip) is still not supported. It’ll be great if they offer support for Rar and 7z file format by default
  2. Program hang when quick viewing large file (tested on 60 MB SQL File) even if the maximum file size for content indexing is set to 10MB (default value) or 1MB


Although Windows Desktop Search and Copernic have many similarities, in the end I choose Copernic Desktop Search Home Edition for my desktop search tool because it offers the same features like the Windows Desktop Search Tools, but it’s much faster when it comes to crawling files stored on your hard drive, and I like the CDS interface better compared to WDS

But of course if you prefer to have them both installed (WDS and CDS or any other combination), because you want specific feature that is only available on that program, you can choose to install them both and configure one program to index specific area while let the other program do the rest, for example set Copernic Desktop Search to index your Mozilla Thunderbird email messages while at the same time let the Windows Desktop Search to index your other files

As for Google Desktop Search, since the crawling speed can’t be adjusted, I choose to uninstall it (I’ve tried searching around the web for this and still couldn’t find anything that can allow Google Desktop Search to index files even if your computer is not in idle state and have tried playing around with it’s registry setting without getting good result)


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4 comments on “Testing Desktop Search Tools

  1. The latest version of Copernic is total suck. They removed many useful features and now they’re only available in the commercial version. Copernic was the best–now it’s only average.

  2. My mother tested Google Desktop on her work. She said it was much faster than the original search tool with windows XP, but somehow it screwed up their entire network.

    So even if you prefer Google Desktop somehow, let it stay on a solo-network.

    As Reaper-X concludes, use Copernic in general.

    Thanks in advance.