Google Desktop Search Gets Sidebar

While Microsoft may be undecided about a sidebar in Windows Vista, Google has scooped up the idea for its latest Desktop Search release. Google Desktop 2.0 introduces a new vertical window that sits on the side of a user's desktop and features personalized information and search functionality.

Google's new addition, aptly called the Sidebar, can be custom tailored with news, weather, stocks and more. Users can add their own content via RSS feeds and create a photo slideshow using local images or those from a Web site. An e-mail panel even checks for new messages based on a user-defined filter.

But such features are only an example of the possible uses of Google's Sidebar. Each content block is actually its own individual plug-in, and developers can easily create their own panels. Currently available Sidebar plug-ins include a to-do list and system monitor.

The resizable Sidebar can be docked to either side of the screen, and an auto-hide feature keeps the window out of the way when not in use. Panels can contain alerts to keep users informed of new content.

Beyond the Sidebar, Google Desktop 2.0 introduces a QuickFind for launching applications and searching for files. The tool performs much like Apple's Spotlight search that was introduced in Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, offering results by typing just a few letters.

Google has additionally improved Outlook integration in the new release. A Google toolbar appears within Microsoft's e-mail application to enable quick searching of messages based on a number of different parameters. Other data stored in Outlook such as contacts, journals and calendar items can also be searched.

Other features in Google Desktop 2.0 include support for MSN Messenger chats and the ability for a user to encrypt their search index for added security.

Google Desktop 2.0 is available for download via FileForum.

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