Google Desktop 2 has been launched with a new sidebar. I am not a great fan of Google Desktop – I actually use Yahoo Desktop – but decided to give this latest version a try. The good news is that indexing of secure web pages such as bank statements and of password protected documents is switched off by default. You can even encrypt the cache that Google creates on your PC. The sidebar also looked promising with news, options for RSS feeds, a scratchpad, share price monitor, weather, and a panel where you can have a sort of slide show of your favourite photos.
Now for the bad news. My enthusiasm quickly waned as I discovered that the share prices and weather are US only, and that the news is from Google.com. I would have preferred news.google.co.uk but there seems to be no way to change this. You can ‘train’ it by telling it not to show any more articles “like this”, and if you have the advanced features switched on it is supposed to be able to work out the type of content you prefer to read. After three days, I gave up and removed that panel, as well as the Web Clips/RSS one; I find it much easier to use a proper RSS reader. I also found the Quick View of recently viewed files and doucments irritating.
It did, though, list new emails that appeared in my Thunderbird inbox but I wanted it to alert me to just new Gmail messages. The only way to do that is to create filters to stop the Thunderbird mail being listed. Far too time consuming and tedious to do, so that panel went as well. Which just left me with the scratchpad (actually, quite useful) and my photo slide show. I then occupied the empty spaces with an Adsense plug-in to display how much my web pages are earning and a to-do list. There is a list of plug-ins at http://desktop.google.com/plugins/.
As far as searching my hard drive, it still lags way behind Yahoo Desktop in terms of accuracy, number of documents found, and indexing procedure. Google Desktop works continually in the background. I found it to be a serious resource hog, even when I forced it to pause indexing, and it significantly slowed down the performance of my computer.
I have now uninstalled it A pity, because I rather like the sidebar. It has real potential, and I am sure that there will be plenty more useful panel plug-ins along soon.