Google Desktop Search - TIPS

By donmc, 24 January, 2009
Thanks to:
  • Read Google's Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) here.
Release Notes
  • To find out what version of GDS you have go to the GDS home page and click the 'About' link at the bottom of the page.
  • Information about each version is available here.
Google's Privacy Policy
  • Read Google's Privacy policy here.
Getting Started Guide
  • Lots of tips to what GDS is all about and how to do searches of your computer are here.
  • Google's GDS support page is here.
Make GDS Better!
  • To make a suggestion, report a problem, get help or for general feedback go here.
Other Helpful Web Sites On with the tips... In the current release it will index files from these applications:
  • Email
  • Gmail
  • Outlook 2000+
  • Outlook Express 5+
  • Netscape Mail 7.1+
  • Mozilla Mail 1.4+
  • Thunderbird
  • Files
  • text
  • Word
  • Excel
  • Powerpoint
  • PDF
  • MP3
  • image
  • audio
  • video
  • Web Browser History
  • Internet Explorer 5+
  • Netscape 7.1+
  • Mozilla 1.4+
  • Firefox
  • Chats
  • AOL 7+
  • AOL Instant Messenger 5+
  • MSN Messenger
If you share your computer (one log in shared with others), be aware that the other users may stumble across information that you would rather not have them find.
If users use separate Windows accounts you can install Google Desktop on each account. One user will not be able to access another user's Desktop index.
Some preferences you should set
  • To change your preferences, right click on the GDS icon in your task tray and then click 'Preferences'
  • Deselect "Include secure pages (HTTPS) in web history" HTTPS are secured web pages. If you want to keep things like your online bank info private, don't index these kinds of pages.
  • While in the preferences, add the following sites to your list of sites NOT to index
  • is the location that GDS returns your local results to. Preventing indexing on this location will keep you from having results returned in a circlular fashion. That is, if you look something up and it returns 1 hit your result page then gets indexed and you'll have 2 hits the next time and on and on in a circular fashion. I don't know about IE but this is a problem with Slogger. If you use Slogger, you can also use it's settings to prevent this kind of logging as well. That may be preferable.
  • Any folder you do not want indexed should be entered here as well (eg. c:\My Stuff)
  • Google Integration
  • Some people freak out when they see local results appear when they do a search on the web. This is easily fixed by deselecting "Show Desktop Search results on Google Web Search result pages"
  • You may also want to increase the number of results you want to see per page. Simply change the number in the Number of Results section near the bottom of the Preferences page.

Make sure your GDS is up to date
  • Right click on the GDS icon in your task tray and then click 'About'. This will show you what version you have loaded.

Move index file to a different drive
Some people don't want the index taking up lots of space on their main drive. Once again a registry hacking expedition is avoided by the wonderful TweakGDS. Seriously, get this tool. You'll use it sooner or later.
  • FYI, by default the index is stored in:
    C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Google Desktop Search
    where USERNAME is your username on the computer.

Files on Mapped Network Drives
In the previous versions this was a lengthy process that involved hacking around in your registry. Thankfully, this is now part of the preferences. Simply go to the preference page and look for the section called "Search These Locations". Click the "Add drive or folder to search" link and you will be able to navigate to one of your mapped drives. After you select a drive and save your preferences it will appear in your list as \\servername\share\path

The really cool part of this, if you have a laptop, is you have the Google cache local on your computer. So if you need some info from a file you accessed on the network at an earlier point, you may be able to get that info from your cache.
Large Text files
There currently seems to be a limitation as to the size of the file that GDS will index. According to this page at Google's support, the limit is 10,000 words. And sometimes less to save space.

What GDS Does Not Index
When you do an install of GDS with out any plugins or other modifications, the following file types are not indexed:
  • .tmp, .temp, .pst, .dat, .pf, .obj
Along with the following directories:
  • Recycler, System Volume Information, AppData, Cache, Cookies, History, Local AppData, Local Settings, PrintHood, Recent, SendTo, Startup, Templates
  • Your system root folder. In most cases, this is C:\Windows\ or C:\winnt
  • GDS now has in integrated deskbar. The desk bar can be part of your windows task bar or it can float around your screen. More details can be found here.
  • GDS now comes with a sidebar that runs up the side of your screen and provides all kinds of information at a glance. Personally, I haven't really found that I like this thing all that much. I don't like wasting screen real estate.
  • You can find more information about the side bar here.
Finding a File by Part of the Name
Let's say you want to find file called "U2-All That You Can't Leave Behind-Beautiful day.mp3"
In your search field type (no quotes) "Beautiful filetype:mp3"
Your results will come back: U2-All That You Can't Leave Behind-Beautiful day.mp3
Also, when you get your results back, clicking "Sort by Relevance" helps out quite a bit as well.

Password Protected Word File
GDS will index password protected word files. There is now a preference to turn this on and off. If you have it on (meaning you have the preference checked) then if you create a word file and put in a password and save it, GDS will index it and the file will be viewable via that Google Cache by anyone who uses your computer. You need to weigh the security risk for yourself.
  • Again, Google Desktop Search was meant for a single user PC. You created the file and it's password. You should know what it contains.
  • Another thing you can do for added security is create a "Do Not Index" folder and add it to Google's Preferences like I mentioned above.

What to do if you have installed Firefox or Thunderbird after GDS
  • If you install Mozilla Firefox, Mozilla, and/or Thunderbird after you install Google Desktop Search, Desktop Search may not be able to find your web history or email. Google has instructions for fixing this here.
How to force a clean re-index without reinstalling
If you have been to this site before you may remember this section contained several steps that involved hacking around in your Windows registry. Thankfully, there is a new utility that is available to make this much, much easier. The tool is called TweakGDS. Among other things, you can use TweakGDS to force a complete reindexing of your conputer. Download it today!

Note: Even though there is now a nice tool to make it easier, it still involves modifying you registry so proceed with caution and read the instructions carefully.

How to manually uninstall Google Desktop Search
You can easily uninstall Google Desktop Search by going to Start > Programs > Google Desktop Search > Uninstall Google Desktop Search. If that didn't work, you may need to manually uninstall the program. Here is how:
As you may know, editing the Windows registry is a fairly advanced process. If you're not comfortable doing it yourself, you may want to contact your system administrator. That said, you should be able to solve the problem by deleting the following registry keys:


You'll need to restart your machine in order for this change to take
effect. Once you've done this, you can remove the program files for
Desktop Search. Here's how:

Open C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME-THAT-NO-LONGER-EXISTS\Local
Settings\Application Data\Google\Google Desktop Search. Delete all the
files in this directory.

You should now be able to successfully install and use Google Desktop

Make GDS one of Firefox's search engines
  • If you use Firefox, you'll want this plugin to allow you to add GDS as one of the search engines.