MSN Search Toolbar with Windows Desktop Search

I’ve been writing about tabbed browsing for over two years now. Considering that it’s been so long, it’s kind of ridiculous that we’re talking about downloading an add-in for Internet Explorer to enable tabbed browsing.

The add-in in question is the MSN Toolbar. It actually sports a few features that Firefox’s tab implementation doesn’t — a toggle button for opening all links in new tabs, and the ability to bring a new tab to the front or leave it in the back. I’m not particularly excited about the front/back option, but I’ve written about the ability to open all links in new tabs in regard to Firefox.

The problem is that the tabs are sluggish and on my system cause some screen flicker. This is not unexpected with an add-in.

But the real gem of the download is Windows Desktop Search. It is far superior to the Find/Search tool that comes loaded with Windows, and it’s even better than Google Desktop. Yahoo! also has a desktop search tool, and I’ve read that it is comparable to the MSN version, but I have never used it. Google was fine, but I like the way results are presented to me in the MSN offering much better. The kicker is a preview pane.

I had one issue with Windows Desktop Search. When I installed it, I had Norton Antivirus 2004 Professional installed, which gives you an undelete feature one step beyond what the Recycle bin does. I was never crazy about the feature because it was slow, its interface window was small and not resizable, and I never needed the feature. Well NAV Pro keeps its data in cryptically-named files located in C:RecyclerNProtect, and every time one of those files is accessed, a file with a similar name is created.

A heads-up to anyone who’s never used a desktop search program: Before you get functionality, the utility must scan all your hard drives for all files, and then create a table of contents or index which is somehow superior to the file allocation table. The index is what makes Google Desktop, Yahoo Desktop Search, and Windows Desktop Search superior to the search tool that comes with Windows.

So … it doesn’t take much imagination to figure out that the Windows Desktop Search got stuck in an endless cycle. Each time it accessed an NProtect file, Norton created another file, which WDS then decided it had to index …

The saving grace here is that WDS provides a very useful status window that you can bring up at any time. It tells you how many file are left to index, the file currently being indexed, and allows you to start or pause indexing or put it on snooze. When I found that the indexing was still underway even though it had far surpassed my estimated time of completion, I opened up the status window. It showed six files remaining. Then eight. Then seven. Then five. Then eight. Then six … and on and on. So I opened up the C:RecyclerNProtect folder, and I could clearly see what was going on.

To get around this, I added to WDS’s list of file extensions to skip. The extensions that got me out of the endless loop were .001, .002, and .003.

A couple days later, I bought Norton Antivirus 2005 (standard) at Staples because Norton offered a $20 summer rebate and a $20 upgrade rebate, and Staples offered a small rebate to cover everything else, and I got it for free. I lost two features, one of which is the “enhanced” Recycle bin and the other I can’t remember.

Final word, Windows Desktop Search is better than Google Desktop, and that surprises me.

MSN Search Toolbar with Windows Desktop Search