Find files faster

Are you able to find information online faster than you can find a document on your own hard drive? Search your own computer more efficiently with these software apps, and tell me your own solutions for managing local files.

Last week, in an article about optimizing hard drives, I mentioned that I'm a digital pack rat. I'm continually bumping up against my disk size and burning files off to DVD.

While maintaining my hard drive is no big problem, finding the files I need among 120GB of images, songs, movies, Web pages, Word docs, and other personal data can be a challenge, especially when I need something ASAP.

Google Desktop
Google Desktop allows a persistent search box in its sidebar. (Credit: Google)

The big boys of online search (Google, Yahoo, and MSN) all offer desktop apps that work reasonably well. Despite accusations of bloat and recent security issues, GoogleDesktop is the king so far, most likely because of its domination of online search.

Yahoo tried to compete with a free Yahoo Desktop Search product but stopped development to partner with X1, perhaps most famous for its e-mail search. Yahoo's new desktop search app is now simply X1 Professional Client, which offers a 30-day trial for its $50 software.

Don't worry, Microsoft still wants to own your desktop search too. Its free client, Windows Desktop Search, is widely used, free, and integrated well with the Microsoft Office Software suite.

Among the small guys, one of the user favorites on CNET is Copernic Desktop Search. It's free and some nice features, like a customizable preview pane.

Create your own file taxonomy with tag2find. (Credit: tag2find)

A new program (still in beta) is tag2find, which incorporates the popular practice of adding "tags" or keywords to your files. You're probably familiar with ID3 tags for your MP3 music files; tag2find uses the same concept, but with all of your files.

What do you use to keep the files on your hard drive organized? Tell me about it in the comments.

About Peter Butler

Peter has been working at since 2003, when trialware was shareware and toolbars were those large metal rods for smashing car windows. Currently, he wrangles the reviews, videos, newsletter, blog, and special collections for, as well as managing the program data throughout the software directory.