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A New Player in Desktop Search

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Copernic, a well-known developer of web search tools, is entering the desktop search marketplace with the release of a new product today.

Copernic Desktop Search is available now to Windows users free of charge. The full download is very light (just a few megabytes) and contains no spyware or advertising.

While other desktop search products such as x1, 80-20, and dtsearch offer more features, Copernic CEO David Burns said that his goal was to develop a product for the first time desktop searcher. I think the company has done an excellent job in meeting this goal.

However, Copernic Desktop Search is far from a bare bones product. It offers plenty of useful features and options for the experienced searcher.

I've been using a beta version of the product for the past few weeks and I'm very impressed with its ease of use and overall effectiveness finding material on my computer quickly and easily.

Using Copernic Desktop

Copernic Desktop's interface is a small search box on the Windows Deskbar. You can run a simple search on either your own computer or the web via this search box. For more precise searches, the program expands with a full console of controls.

The program currently handles eight text file types (PDF, XLS, PPT, DOC, RTF, TXT, WP, HTML) and also indexes your search history and Internet Explorer favorites. It's also possible to index and search all your Outlook folders and contact lists.

Copernic Desktop also handles image files (JPEG, GIF), music files (MP3, WMA, WAV), and video files (MPEG, QuickTime, Windows Media). Having a "preview" of each image in the results list is also a time saver.

To run a search simply enter your terms and select a type of material to search (files, photos, etc.).

After selecting the search type (or hitting the enter button) a window opens with your results and several options to refine them. You can refine by filetype, date, file size, and folder.

Advanced searchers will be happy to know that Copernic Desktop allows you to use Boolean connectors (AND, OR, NOT) as well as nested searches in parentheses. Copernic Desktop uses an implied "AND" between terms just like most of the general web search engines.

Copernic Desktop results change dynamically as you type each letter into the query box.

The "Quick Preview" feature is a real time saver. It allows you to see the full text of each document in the results list WITHOUT having to open the actual document. The preview also highlights all of your search terms. You'll find the "Quick Preview" panel directly below the results list.

Results can be sorted by folder name, date modified, or file type directly from the results panel.

You have several options to control the indexing process. Content can be saved as it is indexed, at a specific time, or at regular intervals. You can also choose what folder(s) are or are not indexed. I was pleased to see that indexing process didn't cause a major slowdown of the computer as material was saved to the hard drive.

Final thoughts

I've been in the minority in the past when I've said that I haven't found Copernic's flagship Agent search tool very useful.

However, with the release of Copernic Meta Toolbar in February and today's release of the Desktop product, Copernic is rapidly moving up my list of providers of important and useful search tools.

It would very useful to see Copernic offer an option allowing you to add any search engine directly to the Search Desktop. This shouldn't be much of a challenge since Copernic already offers this useful feature in the toolbar. I think advanced searchers would also find it useful if future releases offered an option to index and search your RSS feeds.

If you've never tried a desktop search tool, Copernic Desktop Search is worthy of your time and attention. Even if you have a desktop search product that you like, Copernic has created an impressive product that you'll want to take for a spin.

Copernic Desktop Search
Free to download and use.

System Requirements:

Windows 95 or higher; Internet Explorer 5.0 or later
For real-time file monitoring: Windows XP/2000/NT
To index email/contacts: Outlook Express 5.x/6.x, Outlook 2000/XP/2003, Windows Address Book

Want to discuss or comment on this story? Join the Copernic Desktop Search is available today discussion in the Search Engine Watch forums.

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