Applications that let you access the files on your desktop from anywhere else are wonderful things, but the traditional remote-desktop app has one annoying flaw--you must browser for an e-mail, photo, or document in often tall, brambly file trees. Copernic Mobile (see slide show), in a sturdy prerelease build for Windows XP and Vista, offers the thorough indexing of a remote-access tool, but with a search component that makes finding those individuals files as simple as using a desktop search tool like Google Desktop--or Copernic Desktop Search.

Copernic Mobile on the PC
Copernic Mobile--for XP and Vista--simplifies remote access from your phone's mobile browser. (Credit: CNET)

It works by downloading Copernic Mobile's remote access application to your desktop and registering for a free account. If you're using Copernic Desktop Search in the free or pro version, or Windows Desktop Search, the app will connect up with the desktop search tool's index of your computer's contents to let you search for files, e-mails, music, photos, videos, contacts, favorites, Web history, and anything else the search app keeps tabs on. It doesn't yet play nice with Yahoo or Google's desktop search apps, which is a missed opportunity to engage some stalwart users before either company begins marketing a similar solution.

After logging into from any Internet-equipped cell phone and entering your credentials, you'll be able to launch a search (clink the proffered link to enter a secure server.) The search return interface works on the spectrum of mobile phones and browsers (I tested it on three), with a more stylized look for iPhone. Depending on your phone's capability, you'll be able to view, download, and e-mail a result. The search function worked flawlessly during our tests, and navigating the app was fast and easy on Wi-Fi, 3G, and Verizon's regular, old data network on a BlackBerry Curve, iPhone, and Samsung Omnia. While other remote access apps like the mobile-specific Sugar Sync, the Internet-portal LogMeIn Free, and others do remote access equally well, the seamless search function makes Copernic Mobile my current favorite.

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.