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  Google Desktop Search - Reloaded 

Last week I joined the masses who apparently blogged about the Google Desktop search. Everywhere you look there's all kinds of praise and buzz about the Google Desktop search. I've been using it and it's saved me some time looking for old e-mails in Outlook and newsgroup posts I made using Outlook Express. Cool. However, I seem to read a lot of posts about people wanting to use it to search for only specific types of files. So, here is the (un)official Google Desktop Search tip #1:

Limiting the Google Desktop Search to specific types of files

You can use the Google “filetype” parameter to limit the Google Desktop Search to specific file types. Simply add the “filetype” parameter with the appropriate extension to the search and you're set.

The file types that I've found work with Google Desktop searches are:

  • email - Outlook & Outlook Express items
  • doc or word - Word files
  • txt or text - Text files
  • xls or excel - Excel files
  • ppt or powerpoint - Powerpoint files
  • chat - AIM chat logs
  • html/htm or web - Web history
  • pdf - PDF files - Note, Google does not index PDFs, so you're not searching content, but the file names and paths seems to be included in the search.
  • Just as with PDFs you can add any file type (bmp, mp3, wmv, avi...etc). Keep in mind your searching for those files with the search term in the name or path, not in the file's content.

So if you wanted to search for “Ryan“ and only include Word documents in the search you would enter the following into the search box:

Ryan filetype:doc

Or if you wanted to search for any e-mails that contained “Farley” you would enter:

Farley filetype:email

This would search both Outlook and Outlook Express items. I can't seem to find a way to search only Outlook without searching Outlook Express too unless I change the settings for that - which I don't want to do. If you use Outlook for mail and Outlook Express for news it would be nice to be able to search one without the other.

So that is cool and all, but I have to say. I am still a little leary about a local web service running on my pc that exposes the content of my hard drive - even though it only accepts requests from the local pc. Scott Hanselman took a deeper look at some of the inner workings of the Google Desktop Search and I agree it is an impressive peice of work. I love how it is done. However, a simple Google exploit, such as the script injection exploit using the 'cof' parameter (outlined here by Jim Ley) could allow for some malicious use of the desktop search by searching your hard drive for files containing the work “password” sending the results back to somewhere else. Scary stuff. Don't get me wrong, I'm not of the camp that's worried about Google using data from my files somehow (except for some inevitable use of Adwords at some point), but anything that potentially opens things up for someone else causes me to worry.

On a related note, posted about some problems with the file size of the Google indexes. Someone seeing 2.3GB indexes for only about ~216 items. Not sure what that is all about. Last I checked mine had indexed about ~50K items and looking at about ~240MB for the indexes.


Leave a comment below.


  1. Clark 3/20/2010 9:26 AM
    Hey, if you are interested in search machines like GDS maybe you should also take a look at Lookeen! I work with this tool and love it! Finds everything in seconds, not only mails also everything else! The best is that is so small, but unfortunately not for free, but you can test in 14 days for free and it convinced me!
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