Last night I was doing some work and I wanted to do some more research and knew that I had some files on the subject already on my hard drive, but I wanted to see what else was out there. As it happened Google didn’t really turn up much interesting beyond the obligatory Wikipedia article, but Google Desktop Search turned up a direct link to one of my local resources. Doing so saved me from using Spotlight to do the same thing. But that isn’t the only app indexing my hard drive, Quicksilver (my preferred app launcher) also runs in the background check the hard drive for new and interesting files that it can index and add to its database so that when I search for an application all I need to do is type its name and hit enter.
So my Mac has three different indexing tools: Google Desktop Search, Spotlight and Quicksilver. This is in contrast to my work PC (Windows XP) which has Google Desktop Search and Windows Indexing Service (which does poorly on large itemsets such as the contents of your hard drive…most of the useful items I find using this tool is not what I wanted originally but something else thrown up in the list for some reason, completely irrelevant, but interesting to read. There is another tool I use, RockIt Launcher, which is a Quicksilver equivalent for Windows except its catalog is limited in scope and usefulness, plus it has to be manually reindexed.
Linux by comparison seems quite poor, really only having Beagle desktop search, but that would discount the other options available. For example I do a few things differently on this platform: I launch terminals using my function keys (alt-f5 to f12 is bound to local and remote terminals (via ssh)) which means I get access to those applications. alt-f2 brings up the Linux equivalent of the ‘run’ dialog, except with completion. This is my equivalent for Quicksilver as I usually know the app name (as with quicksilver) to launch it. The last app launch/search is the deskbar I have on my lower panel, which has a list of commands run through it (could be desktop search, dictionary or app launch) so I can click that to quickly get to applications or type in the text box to get feature almost identical to Quicksilver. The last app launch point is my ‘drawers’. These are little panels that extend down with Quick Launch icons. They’re grouped so if I’m doing a particular task I know which drawer to go to so that I can launch multiple similar applictions. iIts also handy for eclipse, which has the same name but is three different installs.
So for me, my main use of search is application launching and occaisionally going to find the file I want. Mac has lead the way on the desktop, Google provides another awesome solution, Beagle is very nicely integrated into GNOME and now that Vista has (finally) shipped a few months ago it has search built in. So finally everything is getting indexed, making things easier to find for those of us who have too much information.2 comments
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