From the freaking annoying department...

published: Tue, 14-Jun-2005   |   updated: Thu, 16-Jun-2005
Helmsley Castle, N. Yorks

I used Google Desktop Search. I installed it ages ago when it first came out and it seemed to do what I wanted. Then I got worried that it didn't seem to be picking up my most recent files. Cue, without further ado, a major rant and a major waste of time.

I looked at the Google Desktop Screen. Properly, this time. There was an error message (with no differing color values to make it stand out): "Google Desktop Search has reached its maximum size. New items will no longer be indexed. You can still search for old items." The date of the last item indexed? March, three months ago.

Damn. No problem, it must be an item on the Preferences screen. I change it, it indexes the new stuff, I get on with my life. Nope. Not there. No option for setting the index size. Though I did find the local folder containing the index (about 6GB in several multi-GB files).

I googled a bit on the error message only to find that it's a "known issue" (see here) and that a fix will be appearing "real soon now" (see here).

I uninstalled Google Desktop Search and recovered my 6GB.

I downloaded MSN Toolbar with Windows Desktop Search. I tried to install it: error message saying you have to be an administrator to do so. No problem, I sign on as admin using my admin command line shortcut. I install.

(By the way, more ranting. I hate the fact that the installer prompts using check boxes to change my web search URL to MSN Search and home URL for IE to These check boxes are selected by default and are at the bottom of one of the pages in the wizard. Easy to miss, and friggin' annoying if I hadn't seen them. Also what's with the install wizard? I moved it to a position on another screen to see it better. You know, accessibility, like. Every page though insisted on displaying itself back in the center of the other screen. WTF?)

Microsoft Antispyware pops up warning after warning. An error comes up at the end saying that the installer couldn't display the toolbars in Explorer, IE and Outlook. No problem, it gives instructions on how to do so. I do it (ooh, look, MSN butterflies) and try to start the Search feature.

Unfortunately, the Windows Desktop Search refuses to start. I try various things. It crashes and wants to send the usual to Microsoft. I let it. I try again to start Windows Desktop Search. It crashes. I send the data on up.

The error states that MSN Toolbar must be reinstalled. I try installing it again. It refuses: I must first uninstall. OK. I uninstall MSN Toolbar. It needs to reboot my machine. I let it.

When it comes back up, I fire up my trusty admin command line and install MSN Toolbar again. Microsoft Antispyware again goes ballistic. Again the installer refuses to install the toolbars properly, but hey, I know how to do that now.

Windows Desktop Search again crashes on startup. I send the data to Microsoft, wishing I could add a choice phrase or two at the end. You know, helpful-like, to gently point the developers in the right direction.

I google for "Windows Desktop Search" and "crashes". Nothing relevant to my case.

I uninstall it again. It reboots. I go in and see whether I need to clean up anything and suddenly realize that the reason it's probably crashing is that I'm installing it as Administrator and hence the index is being built in Administrator's Documents and Settings folder to which I, peon that I am with my normal user account, do not have privileges.

I download Aaron Margosis' MakeMeAdmin utility (it launches a command line with your usual user account temporarily elevated to admin). I run it, and then install MSN Toolbar for the new command line. Antispyware again wears out the pixels in the lower left corner of my screen. Again the installer refuses to add the toolbar to Explorer, IE, and Outlook, but, remember, I know what to do now . Unfortunately, this time MSN toolbar didn't even register with Outlook, so I couldn't display it there. I don't know why; I did exactly the same thing as before except from a more elevated position (yes, I stand at the keyboard when I'm admin).

Anyway it's now indexing my entire disk (196,000 files and counting). I'll report back if it doesn't work or something, but I have fairly high hopes this time. After all the two hours I lost to all this must mean something in the grand scheme of things. Right?

Update 16-Jun-2005

Several readers have written me to recommend Copernic's Desktop Search program as a good alternative to the big boys Google, MSN and Yahoo! (yep, apparently Yahoo! has a desktop search program). And it's written in Delphi to boot. This goes into the "if only I'd known" file, at least for now. It took a good five hours to index my disk with MSN (I didn't realize that I had that much indexable data, but it also indexed all my source files as well).

If MSN Toolbar annoys me in operation as much as it did in installation, it's outta here and I'll be trying Copernic.