Google Desktop For Mac Released

This post is obsolete and the app is no longer available. The images were lost in a site migration long ago and there’s no point trying to recreate them.

Google released Google Desktop for the Mac this past Tuesday and it piqued my interest. The first question is why would I want Google desktop when I have Spotlight? The immediate answers to that are:

  • easily repeat a search on the Internet after doing a desktop search
  • include a GMail account in the index (but only one mailbox)
  • search and recover deleted documents
  • browser history in the index
  • some other reason that will only be apparent after using it

Any e-mail client with a spotlight plugin can also be included in the search so Apple will be included. Due to my recent Apple Mail woes I was hoping for the ability to search Thunderbird mail but it doesn’t appear I’ll get that. Google Desktop can also index your iDisk. The option to include my iPod in the index is enabled so I assume it can be included although it’s not something I’m going to try and it was off by default even though the iPod was mounted as a disk.

I’ve never been a user of desktop search tools on Windows but I’ve become a bit of a spotlight fan so I decided to give Google Desktop a try and installed it tonight which I cover down below. About 100K items were indexed on my Mac in bout 45 minutes while I was using the Mac. I haven’t restarted my browser yet so the history isn’t included. There wasn’t any noticeable impact on performance and by the time I got around to checking activity monitor it was already done. I indexed a fairly new and very small GMail mailbox and it was done quickly. I had seen references to GMail being indexed relatively slowly because it did it in small chuncks, with delays in between, in order to keep network usage down but I couldn’t confirm that. Google Desktop in a Universal App so it runs natively on both Intel and PPC Macs.

The things that immediately jumped to my wishlist were:

  • support for more than one Gmail account
  • include Thunderbird in the index
  • group search results like Spotlight does

But on the last point when I select “Show all results…” the search results are sent to my browser and I have options to see only e-mail, web history, files, media and others. Like spotlight the search occurs as you type which is a feature of spotlight it took me awhile to get used to. Having lots of results pop up with the first letters and the resulting screen flicker as the results are reduced was annoying until I got used to it.

Another question I’ll have to look into is what the option to search deleted files does to disk space.



Google Desktop for the Mac is installed through the “Google Updater” which is actually what’s downloaded deom the link. The download is a disk image file (.DMG) and when mounted there’s a single icon called “Double click to Install Google Desktop”. I do as it says.

After providing the admin password to allow the install there’s a prompt to enable usage statistics.

I disable the statistics and then I’m prompted again for my administrator password. It then begins a 2.8MB download of Google Desktop. Once the install finishes I get the option to install other Google software along with the message that the install is done and I should restart my browsers.

I click the button to open Google desktop and it opens in my browser (Firefox).

The installation kept the exclusions I had set up in my spotlight privacy settings and is not indexing the drives and directories that I had excluded from Spotlight.


The Google Desktop preferences are added to the System Preferences (in the Other section) which is a nice touch. These are the default settings and available options.

The Feedback panel simply has options to enable/disable usage statistics and to open Google Updater to update or uninstall Google Desktop.

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