Google Desktop for Mac is a beta program that indexes the text in local files and allows the user to search that index for files containing the specified keywords. It returns results in the user's Web browser, just like Google.com does. It can also index specific online files, such as the e-mail messages in the user's Gmail account, and make them searchable and accessible, even when offline.
Google Desktop is based on the Windows version of search software, but Google says it spent considerable time rewriting the code for the Mac.
"We know that simply 'porting' to the Mac is not a good idea," said Mike Pinkerton, a Google software engineer, on the Google Mac blog. "So we took the time to develop a product that deeply integrates into Mac OS X and maintains its high standards of usability. This is a Mac product through and through, from the bezel on our search box down to correctly (and securely) handling multiple users and FileVault."
Although Mac OS X comes with its own capable search software called Spotlight, Google Desktop offers features that complement Apple's native search technology. Google Desktop can be used as a file backup utility, for example. Some corporate IT managers may see this as a security threat. Even so, it's quite useful to be able to restore an accidentally deleted file from the Google Desktop index.