What's in Your Computer?

Last Update: October 08, 2015

I have lots of information on the computer - 6 or 7 terabytes! There are times I lose track of what I filed where, and times I forget having a resource saved at all! How do you keep track of all the bits and pieces?

(Re) Introducing Google Desktop Search


The good news is that Google Desktop Search (GDS) is free. The bad news is that it was discontinued by Google in September of 2011. But... wait for it... the good news is that you can still download and use the power of Google to search and index your computer. All the indexing is done on your computer, and the index file itself is stored on your computer - no Internet connection is necessary.

There have been a number of occasions when GDS has saved my bacon by helping me locate resources I buried and forgot, or that I remembered burying, but couldn't find when I needed them.

Where to find GDS


Head over to http://www.techspot.com/downloads/1424-google-desk... for the PC version or head to http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/24587/google-desk... for the Mac. After downloading and saving the file, scan it for viruses (I found none in either download), then install it on your computer. Once it's installed, you'll see an icon in the taskbar (shown above for a Windows 7 PC). Right clicking on the icon will bring up a menu that allows you to set options for the program, check the status of indexing for your computer, etc. It works entirely in the background while it's indexing, and it's lightning fast finding files you need to locate.

You can also set up hotkey access to GDS (Control-Control for the PC, or Command-Command for the Mac) to initiate a desktop search, as shown below.

The downside?


GDS is no longer supported by Google, but you can still find information about its use at sites like http://lifehacker.com/187425/technophilia-master-g... on the web.

Even when it was supported by Google, it did not 'track' files if you moved them after you'd initially stored them. I use a little utility called TweakGDS to simply delete the Google Desktop index from time to time, and let GDS re-index everything again so all the file locations are current. TweakGDS also lets you access other 'hidden' settings for GDS, including which drives you want indexed, whether your browsing history should be indexed, etc.

Like GDS, TweakGDS is no longer supported, but can be downloaded at http://www.podsync.com/tweakgds.htm


Note that while GDS can index email for some programs such as Outlook, it cannot access cloud based files or email, such as files stored in Dropbox or email kept in Yahoo or Gmail.

Do you know what's in your computer?


I'm curious - what do others use to locate files buried in your own computer? Do you simply rely on the gray matter between your ears, or do you have some additional software assistance from a program such as GDS?

Sing out!

Dennis

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PJonline Premium
Thank you Dennis! You are ways so helpful!
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Prestones Premium
Hi Paula!

Marion (MarionBlack) did some hunting for a program still being supported. She found one she likes for her PC, and commented about it here at I haven't checked it out yet, but it's another option...

Dennis
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PJonline Premium
Thank you Dennis! You said Marion!? Say no more!
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WilliamBoyle Premium
Gee Dennis, only 6 or 7 TB lol. Are you backing it all up? lol Good info thanks!

Best
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Prestones Premium
Greetings William!

I am actually fairly religious about backups - both for my computer and for my websites.

Check out for more (and for a little chuckle ;)

Dennis
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PattT Premium
Wow. Incredible. I could have used this at work the other day! Definitely a keeper. Thanks
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Prestones Premium
Hi Patt!

If you haven't already, you may want to check out a comment by Marion (MarionBlack) at Another option to consider!

Dennis
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MarionBlack Premium
Hi Dennis,

I got a shock when I saw how OLD GDS is. So I went looking for an alternative and found Everything. Yep! That's its name Everything by http://www.voidtools.com/

It passed 2 virus checks so I installed and ran it.

I searched for a text file that I didn't know the name of so I just clicked on Search==> Document and searched for .txt Lo and behold it gave me ALL my text files in a split second. Then I sorted by Path (because I knew where on the computer I wanted to start looking) and it's so easy to find things.

Thank you so much for your post, Dennis, without this I would not have gone looking for an alternative and I'd have been continually frustrated by Windows Explorer.

Marion
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Prestones Premium
Excellent Marion!

Just shows how I am when I get a program I like - I ride it into the ground, and even recommend it 4 years after it's been discontinued by Google <oh my!!>

Thanks for sharing your find. I'll have to check it out!

Dennis

EDIT - I just checked it out Marion. I like Everything (the program from http://voidtools.com) - but have come to rely on the fact that GDS indexes everything in the file as well as the name of the file itself.

On the other hand, Everything does track the files if you move them, and it also tracks the names of folders. Hmmm... decisions, decisions!!
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2Al Premium
Dennis, thank you for more resource I can use.
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Prestones Premium
Greetings Alma!

Glad to hear you like the capabilities of GDS. Marion (MarionBlack) did a little research and found a more up to date program she just started using that you might want to look at as well. Check it out at Good luck with it!

Dennis
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mjdimarco Premium
I use Apple. Finder works well for me.
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Prestones Premium
Hello Mike!

Good to hear you have a way to find things in the dusty corners of your Apple ;)

Dennis
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mjdimarco Premium
So far so good. But I'm probably ignorant of many things in the cyber world.
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Chessie Premium
Thanks for the share Dennis. All I know is that the iMac search facility is absolute rubbish. Will have to look into this, could be handy. Ches
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Prestones Premium
Hi Ches -

You may find it worthwhile to try GDS - or you may elect to do as Marion (MarionBlack) did and search for a more current program. She uses a PC, and found a different program in her comment at Perhaps worth checking out to see if there's a Mac version? If not, there's always GDS for Mac!

Dennis
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Chessie Premium
Thanks again Dennis, Ches
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Lady May Premium
I've used winders search, but is painstaking. I like what you suggest and why Google discontinued it who knows but with some improvements it could be awesome. Though I would say, I'm just thinking out load here, may be they discontinued it because people are slowly moving over to cloud storages.
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MarionBlack Premium
You've hit the nail on the head. I found http://googledesktop.blogspot.com.au/ and the article mentions cloud-based storage as one of the reasons for its discontinued support.
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Prestones Premium
Greetings Sharon!

Marion grabbed a hold of the concept and made it her own, finding a more contemporary solution in her comment at I haven't checked it out yet, but she may have a winner!

Dennis
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AlexEvans Premium
Even thinking about whats in or on my computer sends me into free fall , ptobably a lot of rubbish I suspect , lol .So will have a look at this ,think since joining WA I need to get more organised . Thank you for sharing this Dennis .
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Prestones Premium
Greetings Alexander!

Marion (MarionBlack) did a little research and came up with a resource that's more current than Google Desktop search. Check out here comment at We share, we learn ;)

Dennis
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MarionBlack Premium
I've been using Windows Explorer to search for stuff while I go make a cuppa coffee. Problem is it finds tooooo much stuff so I need to search through the results. I'll try your method and see if it's an improvement. ~Marion
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Prestones Premium
Greetings Marion!

Windows Search has been s-l-o-w on my computer. It brings the computer to its knees while it indexes large files, then takes forever to find results in that index file. As you noted, it also brought back too much unrelated junk. I finally gave up on it, after one aggravation too many ;)

We'll see if others have any scathingly brilliant ideas - something better than using a program Google deprecated 4 years ago! At least you can use some of Google's search operators to narrow the results when you search your computer ;)

Dennis
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krazykat Premium
Definitely gray matter for me.
This looks pretty cool despite the up and down ride you just took us on:-)
Thanks Dennis. Fun and interesting as always.
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Prestones Premium
Hi Val!

I'd be lost and wondering in the wilderness if I had to rely solely on my memory. This from a guy who remembers life before computers - even before transistors!

Dennis
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