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March 30, 2008

Optimize Google Desktop for Search


The latest version of Google Desktop no longer enables by default the desktop search engine probably because it uses too many resources. I thought this is a good opportunity to list some ways you could improve Google Desktop's performance, especially if you want to use it as a search engine and not as a widget engine.

When you install Google Desktop 5.5 for Windows, the enhanced search option is disabled and you should leave it that way for now. If you don't need the sidebar with gadgets, disable the option from Google Desktop's setup wizard.

Google Desktop will only index the shortcuts from the Start Menu, the entries from Control Panel. To enable the indexing of your files, right click on the system tray icon, select "Options" and click on the check box next to "Enable Enhanced Content Indexing". Some other relevant options:

* Disable the search types you don't find useful. "Web history" indexes all the web pages that you load in Internet Explorer and Firefox, so it uses a lot of disk space. If you use Outlook or other email clients and you don't want to index the email messages from your computer, disable the "email" options. Google Desktop can also search Microsoft Outlook's Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, Journal, and Notes, so disable these search types if you're satisfied with Outlook's search options.

* Exclude folders from indexing. Since Google Desktop tries to index files from your entire hard disk, it's important to exclude the folders that don't contain useful files for a desktop search engine. Some examples:
C:\Program Files\ (don't exclude it if you use Google Desktop to launch apps)
C:\Windows\ (don't exclude it if you use Google Desktop to launch apps)
C:\ProgramData\ (in Vista)
D:\ (if D: is used for backup)

* Exclude file extensions from indexing. There's no option for this in the interface, but you can edit this Registry key and add other extensions you want to exclude. The default excluded extensions are: tmp, temp, moztmp, log, pst, ost, oab, nk2, dat, 000, pf, xml, obj, pdb, tlb, pcc, pch, exp, res, map, sconsign, msf. You can also disable other extensions that aren't associated with useful content: bak, chk, old, gid, prv, wbk, dll.

The Registry value can be found at:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Google\Google Desktop\file_extensions_to_skip

* Disable the Google integration. By default, Google performs a desktop search every time you search the web and it displays some results from your computer in an OneBox, above the web search results. If you want faster Google searches, less computer resources used to search your desktop and less embarrassing moments when someone else temporarily uses your computer, you can disable the integration.

* More screen space. To disable the taskbar and show the search box by pressing Ctrl twice, select "None" for the "Display Mode". You can also disable the gadgets button if you don't use the sidebar.

* Disable Safe Browsing. Google downloads and automatically updates a database of URLs that are used for phishing or for distributing malware and shows you a warning when you visit one of these web pages. If you use other security software or your browser has anti-phishing protection, you can disable this option.

* Save preferences. Google Desktop will only index files when your computer is idle. "Assuming you leave your computer on, Google Desktop should need only a few days to create your initial index. This initial indexing process occurs only when your computer is idle, so you may want to leave your computer on for an evening or two after you install Google Desktop," explains Google's help center.

If you already have Google Desktop, excluding folders and file extensions will not remove entries from the index, so the best way to clean your index is to delete it and rebuild it. Close Google Desktop by selecting "Exit" from the system tray menu and delete this folder:

%APPDATA%\Google\Google Desktop\ (Windows XP)
or
%LOCALAPPDATA%\Google\Google Desktop\ (Windows Vista)

After reopening Google Desktop, choose "Re-index" from the system tray menu.

13 comments:

  1. I wish it would index programming files by default like PHP, JS and PL. I had to install an extension and configure it. It would be nice if you could select the file types somehow or Google would give a definitive list of file types they index. Instead it just says "text files" or something similar that is totally ambiguous.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I really want to find a way to use Google Desktop as my laucher ( like lauchy 2.0 ) . But I find it finds too slow, and take a lot of time to index. Why does gDesktop not have function like Catalog in Launchy ?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well I like Google Products but Google Desktop always access to IO (You can see it using MS ProcessMoniton)

    Your answer to this issue is, in fact, to don't use GD ;-) by desactivating lots of stuff

    I think GD should monitor Disk in a cooler way.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The Google/Desktop integration does not work from my iGoogle seach box. If I switch to the "classic" page it does. Any ideas on how to fix this?

    ReplyDelete
  5. I would like to see policy choices for when Google does Indexing. Particularly, when I'm running on just battery, I don't want it to index. And then when I'm on power, then it can index.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I need GDS to index documents contained on a removable encrypted volume, and to keep its own index files on the same.

    In previous versions, if GDS saw that the volume wasn't mounted, it would revert to its factory default index location and proceed building a new index there (this would become the new default behavior for the future).

    There needs to be a way to accommodate the need to securely manage GDS index location, and index targets, and retain these preferences without the need to have a secure volume online all the time. It would also be nice to not have to do registry hacking to accomplish this.

    Some users need the ability to search the contents of secure volumes at selected times, and to completely remove access to them at other times.

    ReplyDelete
  7. logan.lindquist, where did you find an extension to index PHP files, please ?
    Thanks a lot

    ReplyDelete
  8. "* Exclude file extensions from indexing. There's no option for this in the interface, but you can edit this Registry key and add other extensions you want to exclude. The default excluded extensions are: tmp, temp, moztmp, log, pst, ost, oab, nk2, dat, 000, pf, xml, obj, pdb, tlb, pcc, pch, exp, res, map, sconsign, msf. You can also other extensions that aren't associated with useful content: bak, chk, old, gid, prv, wbk, dll.

    The Registry value can be found at:
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Google\Google Desktop\file_extensions_to_skip"

    The Registry doesn't open:( And yes, I did substitute CURRENT_USER with my username..

    ReplyDelete
  9. Open the Registry Editor by pressing WindowsKey+R and typing regedit.exe. Then navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Google\Google Desktop\ and edit the key I mentioned in the post.

    If you are not familiar with the Registry, don't edit it because the changes happen immediately and no backup is automatically made.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thank you! I better leave the Registry alone myself. I have gone around this by unchecking "Text and other files".

    Another question:
    "If you already have Google Desktop, excluding folders and file extensions will not remove entries from the index, so the best way to clean your index is to delete it and rebuild it. Close Google Desktop by selecting "Exit" from the system tray menu and delete this folder:

    %APPDATA%\Google\Google Desktop\ (Windows XP)
    or
    %LOCALAPPDATA%\Google\Google Desktop\ (Windows Vista)"

    Now, I did not have Google Deskstop installed before, and I changed the "Search Types" what gets indexed during the first indexing after the installation today.

    I then wanted to re-index the files, in line with your valuable advice.

    However, I could not find the application data folder to delete!

    Any chance that the new Desktop release stores the data at a different location? Or does the data only appear after the indexation has been completed?

    Thank you very much!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Try "Larry's Any Text File Indexer" for using Google Desktop to index PHP files: http://desktop.google.com/plugins/i/indexitall.html?hl=en I just installed it, and it appears to be indexing PHP files successfully now.

    ReplyDelete
  12. The best way to optimize Google Desktop for search
    Step one: Disable Google Desktop search
    Step two: Go to the site www.lookeen.net and install the program

    Easy isn't it?

    ReplyDelete