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39. Set Indexing and Desktop Preferences



Search Your PC with Google Desktop

Use and Customize the Sidebar

To get the most out of Google Desktop, you should customize it. There's plenty you can change, including which files to index and how many search results to show on a page. Here's how to do it.

Set Indexing and Desktop Preferences

Go to the Preferences Page

Right-click the Google Desktop icon in the system tray or on the Windows desktop and choose Preferences from the context menu. You go to the Google Desktop Preferences page in your browser.

Choose Indexing Options

The top part of the page enables you to select your indexing preferences. In the Search Types section, choose the kinds of items you want to index by putting a check mark in the box next to them.

For email, Google Desktop indexes Gmail, Outlook, Outlook Express, Netscape Mail, Thunderbird, and Mozilla Mail, but no other kinds of email. For documents, it indexes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Acrobat, graphics, and audio files, among others.

Under the series of check boxes detailing the items you want to index, you find a check box option for whether to search password-protected Office documents, such as Word and Excel files. It's a good idea to leave this box disabled if you're worried about someone else using your computer. If you enable the check box next to Password-protected Office documents, Google indexes those documents and anyone who uses your PC is able to search through those files without using your password.

The Secure pages (HTTPS) in web history check box should also be left disabled if you're worried about privacy. If you enable the check box, Google indexes pages on which you've entered your credit card number and on which you do online banking. If you index these pages, other people who use your PC could get personal, financial information about you.


If you want to add to the power of Google Desktop, you can install plug-ins, which are small programs that give Google Desktop more features. For example, plug-ins can allow Google Desktop to search for extra file types, can have Google Desktop integrate with Outlook Express in the same way it integrates with Outlook, and more. To see them, in the Plug-ins section of the Preferences page, click the Plug-ins Download page link and install those plug-ins in which you're interested.

If you want Google Desktop to index your Gmail files, enable the check box next to Index and search email in my Gmail account and type your username and password for your Gmail account.

Google Desktop can search multiple hard disks. It can even search the hard disks and folders of computers on your home network if you've set up those disks and folders to be available over the network.

When you install Google Desktop, it automatically indexes all the hard disks on your PC. If you have added extra hard disks (or folders or disks on other computers on your network) and want to index those, too, in the Search These Locations section, click the Add drive or folder to search link and choose the hard disks or networked drives or folders you want to index and search. When you add them, they show up underneath the Add drive or folder to search link. If you no longer want these locations to be indexed, click the Delete link next to the location you want to remove from the index.

You can also exclude folders, files, or websites from being indexed. To exclude a folder or a file, click the Add file or folder to exclude link and browse to select the file or folder you don't want to be indexed. To add a website to the excluded list, type its URL in the box, including the http:// in front of it, and click Add URL. The list of excluded files, folders, and websites shows up underneath the Add file or folder to exclude link. If you no longer want these items to be excluded from the index, click the Delete link next to the item, and the item will be indexed.

After the initial index is created, Google Desktop updates the index with file information whenever your computer is idle. The index is updated with Outlook email information on the fly, whenever you send or receive email.

If you want the index encrypted so only you can use it, in the Encrypt Index section, enable the Encrypt Google Desktop index and data files check box. This option works only if you have Windows XP because it uses XP's Windows Encrypted File System. Note that if you use this feature, it slows down indexing and searching. Encrypting the index ensures that if someone hacks into your PC, they can't read your index. Only people with access to your encrypted files can read the index.

You can turn off indexing for any future files and events. To do it, in the Enable Indexing section, choose the Disabled option from the drop-down list. All files and events that have already occurred remain indexed and searchable, but none that you add after you disable indexing are included in the index. You can always turn the indexing feature back on if you want.

Choose Display Options

The next section of the Preferences page enables you to customize how Google Desktop should display information. The Search Box section allows you to display Google Desktop as the Sidebar, the Deskbar, the Floating Desktop, or not display it at all. Choose which option you want.


You can also set your display by right-clicking the Google Desktop icon in the system tray and choosing the appropriate option from the context menu.

The Default Search Type For Search Box section enables you to set what kind of search should be done when you use the Google Desktop search box. Choose your option from the drop-down list. You can have Google Desktop search your desktop, search the Web, search Google Images, search Google Groups, search Google News, search Froogle, search Google Local (previously called Google Maps), and do an I'm Feeling Lucky search (in which Google Desktop automatically goes to the page with the top search result).

The Quick Find section comes next. If you want Google Desktop to display results as you type, enable the Show desktop search results as I type check box. From the drop-down list beneath it, select the number of these Quick Find results you want to appear, from 1 to 10. (The Quick Find option is not available if you choose None for the Search Box type.)


The number of results you choose to display for Quick Find affects only the results that appear in the Quick Find pop-up window as you type your search terms. It does not affect how the results appear on the normal Google Desktop results page.

The next set of preferences, Search by default or Launch programs/files by default enables you to launch programs using Quick Find. If you want to launch Microsoft Word, for example, you can type wor in the search box, select Microsoft Word from the results that appear, and Word launches.

If you want to be able to search for text inside documents and email, enable the Search text inside documents and email messages check box. If you don't check this box, you are only able to search for filenames and for text in the subject lines of email messages.

The Number of Results section enables you to set how many results to show on a page. Select the number from the drop-down list.

The final area of the Display section allows you to determine whether, when you do a normal Google search, you also see Google Desktop search results. If you enable the Show Desktop Search results on Google Web Search result pages check box, whenever you search on Google, you also see the results of a search on your hard disk. Note that these results are not sent back to Google; they are displayed only on your PC.

Enable or Disable Advanced Features

The last section of the page, Advanced Features, determines whether information about how you use Google Desktop should be sent to Google. When you enable the Enable Advanced Features check box, information about the web pages you visit are sent to Google. Google claims that this information helps the Sidebar better deliver customized results to youfor example, to deliver more relevant news. Google also claims that the information is not personally identifiable, and that it is used to help Google engineers understand how people use the Google Desktop, and so make better versions of the program.

Save Your Changes

When you're done, click Save Preferences. The new settings you specified take effect. Google Desktop updates the original index when your computer is idle; the changes you've specified here will take effect the next time Google Desktop updates the index.

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