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Search Tools Put Desktops in Order

Monday, March 28, 2005;

Whoever came up with the desktop metaphor for computer interfaces -- a clean workspace, below which you can find files sorted neatly away in folders -- had no idea how accurate that concept would be.

Except it's not the ideal desktop that we're talking about -- computers just imitate the real desktop, where our documents are stacked in random piles, with the newest stuff at the top (but not always). It takes an earthquake (or a spouse's intervention) to unearth some of the oldest material, even if we actually need to find it ASAP.

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The file-search applications I reviewed in yesterday's column accept that reality -- they go to work with the computer you have, not the computer you might want or wish to have. I found something to like and something to gripe about in each of those six programs: Ask Jeeves Desktop Search, Blinkx v2.0, Copernic Desktop Search 1.2, Google Desktop, MSN Toolbar Suite Beta and Yahoo Desktop Search.

Read my review here. And I'll be online at 2 p.m. ET today to talk about these programs. If you can't join me then, please submit a question or comment early.

Also in Sunday's Business section, Kevin Savetz tried out two printers that have their own WiFi receivers (and looks at two adapters that lend the same capability to your existing printers).

Leslie Walker's Web Watch column featured an interesting, vaguely blog-esque travel site (along with a genuinely bizarre attempt to fuse graffiti tags and Web hyperlinks).

We featured reviews of three games, and this week's Help File addressed how to undo a disk partition that's grown too small.

More on Desktop Search

I finished my research for the search-software column by seeing how well-mannered each of these programs was during its own uninstall. In case anybody's curious, the Ask Jeeves, Copernic and Google desktop-search programs were entirely painless to remove. Blinkx took a little too long in comparison, and Yahoo's uninstaller wasn't smart enough to shut down the Yahoo Desktop program before starting the removal process. MSN would have been up there with Ask, Copernic and Google, but it required a restart.

The good news is, none of these programs left any visible traces behind -- no leftover desktop icons, system-tray shortcuts or Start Menu links. If only every program's uninstaller was as clean.

The order in which I removed these programs may also tell you something about my relative preferences. Ask Jeeves got the boot first, followed by Blinkx. I voted Yahoo and Copernic off the island next, then MSN and finally Google.

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