Exalead is the latest to join the desktop search club, with its preview launch of exalead one:desktop. This has been tested for several months by a selected group of users (I was one of them), but the non-disclosure agreement forbade us to mention that the software even existed! I can’t say that I have tested it exhaustively; I rarely need to use a desktop search program and Exalead’s does not yet index Thunderbird email or Star/Open Office documents. Support for these applications is promised for later in the year.
If your documents are mostly Microsoft, Adobe, html or Wordperfect then exalead one:desktop is worth considering for its unique advanced search options. As well as the standard phrase searching, OR and NOT commands there is a NEAR command which searches for words within 16 words of one another, a phonetic search, approximate spelling and pattern matching. You can also have word stemming switched on by default.
When you install the program, you can specify which directories and areas of your hard disk you want it to index and you can also control when it indexes. The results are displayed with preview thumbnails for some of the formats, but you can switch this off if you prefer to view the results as text only. On the left had side of the screen, there are options that enable you to narrow down your search by folder, author, date, size and document type. This will all be very familiar to users of the Exalead’s web search. For web search Exalead is the default but you can set up shortcuts to other tools.
Overall, definitely worth a try – especially for the advanced search features.