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Google Desktop comes with junk in the trunk

Being huge fan of Quicksilver (the Swiss army knife of Mac utilities), I was pretty excited to check out the new Mac version of Google Desktop. As soon as it was released yesterday, I grabbed the download, and gleefully fired up the… installer downloader? HangZhou Night Net

And that was about the end of the excitement. Instead of the usual disk image with an application, Google actually gives you the Google Updater, which acts as an installer for all of Google's applications, and downloads the latest version on demand. I'm not a huge fan of extra, useless applications (I don't mind them when they're useful), so the tedious install process and choice to use Google Updater were strike one for me. Further cementing this is the fact that Google Updater Helper is always running in the background, unless you kill it.

After I dealt with the installation, and finally got Google Updater to close (and killed the process), I was still pretty pumped, so off to Google Desktop I went. Upon launching it for the first time, Google Desktop starts indexing. And indexing. And indexing. There are options to change which folders it looks at, but I'm not sure if cutting down the number of folders will stop it from indexing everything at first launch. On my 1.5 GHz Powerbook, indexing my 47GB of files took two and a half hours, which isn't terrible. More annoyingly, though, is that fact that the indexing process cannot be easily stopped. There's no way to shut it down from the preference pane, and killing the process simply causes it to re-spawn. I'm going to count this as strike two.

Once I finished with the lovely task of trying to kill the indexer, I began to wonder just what other tricks Google Desktop had up its sleeve. Apparently John Gruber had the same question, as he's taken a look at just what files Google Desktop puts where. If you're bothered by applications throwing things around willy-nilly, stay away from Google Desktop. In addition to the application, it comes with an InputManager (which tend to be nasty hacks, and are deprecated in Leopard) that gets installed for all users, and also add some daemons and a preference pane. What really gets John, though, is the fact that Google Desktop installs to the sacred ground that is /System/Library, which apparently shouldn't be touched by developers. After reading his piece, I chalked up strike three for Google Desktop, and decided to dump it.

Fortunately, the uninstall functionality works quite well, and gets rid of all of Google Desktop's tendrils. Now, I know I'm a bit picky when it comes to my software, and I'm certainly hopeful for what Google Desktop may become in the future, but I don't see any reason to use it at this point in time. It may well turn into a great utility, but for now it's bloated with extra stuff, lacks features, and generally doesn't behave like a Mac app can (and should, especially with regards to install locations). As such, I can't see myself re-installing it any time soon.