Google Desktop is an absolutely amazing piece of software, if you set it up right. It also has potential to be unstable, system resource hogging, and all around a pain in the neck. Luckily configuring it right is really easy.
To configure your copy of Google Desktop, right click on the GDS icon in your system tray (it should be a swirly looking colorful icon on the right side of your task-bar). Near the top of the menu that pops up, click Preferences (it’s right above Lock Search).

You’ll be taken to a page with 4 sections listed across the top, and a button that says “Save Preferences.”

Section 1: Local Indexing

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The first option that warrants notice is the option to search inside password protected documents and secure web-pages. This is highly ill-advised, leave the boxes unchecked. Having these files indexed, with their full text freely available to anyone sitting in front of your computer, sort of defeats the purpose of securing them in the first place.

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Another useful feature of GDS is the ability to be readily extended by anyone with a little programming knowledge. Clicking the link here will allow you to browse a massive library of extensions. Some are better than others, but that’s a topic for another day.

That’s it for Section 1, scroll back up and move on to:

Section 2: Gmail and Search Across Computers

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Yup, GDS will search your Gmail account for you. If you’ve got one, search it, it’s very handy. If you don’t have a Gmail account, you should seriously consider getting one.

Next there’s a huge section where you can enable the uploading of your index files to Google’s servers, that way whichever computer you’re on you can search all your other computers. It’s pretty neat, but useless to Average Joe Computer User.

Should you have multiple computers and decide to use this just remember this universal rule: for the love of god, do not allow computers you share with other people access to your Google account.

Section 3: Display

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Here you can configure how you will typically see GDS. I’ve found that the best option here is “None,” since I like software that doesn’t speak unless spoken to. The sidebar can be handy as hell, but tends to suck system resources and can be quite unstable at times. It also really adds to your computer’s start-up time because it loads like amputees run–slowly, painfully and with a tendency to fall flat on its face.

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The quick search box is a new feature to GDS, and is the reason why just a moment ago you chose to have no constant display of GDS.  With these settings all it takes to bring up an instant search of your computer is a double tap on the Control key.  Bringing up the quick search box, all your files are instantly at your fingertips with instant results appearing as you type, search results, and even an option to apply the same search to the web.  If you don’t find what you’re looking for (unlikely), all it takes to make it go away is another double tap of the Control key.

Section 4: Other

There’s only one option in this section, and it’s really just a matter of taste.  I personally trust Google with my usage habits, so I enable the advanced features.  If you don’t want to, though, that’s your prerogative.

That’s It! Click Save Preferences and enjoy your properly configured copy of Google Desktop!

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