Google Desktop 3 Beta Released

Google released a new version of its desktop search utility on Thursday, allowing searches across multiple computers, the ability to send Sidebar items to friends, deeper customization of Sidebar features, and password-protected search.

The new features will be part of Google Desktop, which includes a Google-like search function and Sidebar, a movable palette of various mini-applications.

Users will now be able to search across multiple computers with Google Desktop 3. The function would be especially useful for those who use more than one computer regularly. After activating the "Search Across Computers" feature, a list of the files is automatically sent to the user's other computers with Google Desktop installed.

The results are then combined with those of the computer the user is on when they search for data.

"You don't have to worry about where it lives; it's available anywhere you are," Google Desktop product manager Kan Liu said. "If you've ever created a document but forgot whether it's on your laptop or desktop, then you can appreciate why we built this feature."

Also, if a user wishes to keep their computers information private, Google has added a password protection feature that would only complete a search query after the appropriate password is entered.

The Sidebar has also been improved, with an option made available where a user can send a particular item directly to the Sidebar of another user via Gmail Chat or Google Talk, or even play games such as Tic-Tac-Toe live through the feature.

"The only catch with having desktop tools is that they take up valuable screen real estate," Liu said. "Now you can undock Sidebar panels and keep them floating wherever." This would allow the user to place Sidebar panels where they want instead of keeping them in the dock, as well as the option to have the panels always stay on top of the desktop.

Liu said anyone who can write a webpage could write a panel, and invited interested parties to visit the project's developer site to learn more.

The beta version is currently only available in English, but releases in 16 other languages are on their way by the end of next month, the company said. Google Desktop 3 can be downloaded from FileForum.

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