Copernic Desktop Search 1.63 review

With no major facelift or upgrade worthy of note for some time, it might look like Copernic is in danger of losing the Desktop plot. But as far as the impact upon system resources is concerned, Copernic 1.63 remains as gentle as ever. Left in the default mode, you’d hardly know it was running. This isn’t surprising when its share of the CPU load averaged just 5 per cent during day-to-day usage, and only 7 per cent during the initial index-building process, which took a mere two minutes, 55 seconds to complete.

Copernic Desktop Search 1.63 review

Copernic is one of the very few free search apps to index your network drives as well as local ones. In fact, it indexes pretty much everything by default, so if you want any kind of granular control over the initial indexing process you need to untick all the boxes on the Customise configuration screen when you first run the application. It will happily index Outlook 2000/XP/2003 emails, attachments and contacts if you leave the defaults alone.

What’s more, it automatically indexes new Outlook emails – both received and sent – on-the-fly (although not for Windows 98/ME users). With further support for Eudora and Thunderbird emails and attachments, but not Lotus Notes, it has popular Desktop clients covered. The Mozilla support continues with Firefox bookmarks and history cache indexing. More useful indexing options include the unique ability, within this Labs at least, to skip images smaller than 16 x 16 pixels and audio less than ten seconds in length. Anyone who’s ever seen their search results littered with system icons and event sounds will be thankful for this.

When it comes to displaying the results of a search, the simplistic Preview pane offers a surprising degree of control, with audio and video files playing from within it, images being scaled down to present the user with a filmstrip view, and bookmarks opening a live preview as the viewer doubles as a mini web browser. Although PDF and Word documents with images suffer from a text-only approach to document viewing, formatting is generally good for Office formats, but certainly not to the same wysiwyg standard of Yahoo! DTS. This has the distinct advantage of making it blisteringly fast to render results, but it also has the effect of making Copernic look a little dated as the competition raise the pace with their embedded viewer options. The inability to index within ZIP archives is something else that continues to beggar belief considering most other Desktop search clients can now manage this either natively or by way of a plug-in.

Unlike most of the Desktop applications we tested, Copernic happily supports advanced Boolean operators such as ‘+’ as well as AND and ‘-‘ along with NOT. Using our standard ‘+RWC -108’ query, Copernic delivered exactly as it should have done. The maturity of this application is evident from this, as well as the fact that it supports nested searches within parentheses. The use of a discreet deskbar means you can search from any application at any time, and the results appear within seconds.

The colour-coded keyword highlighting within document previews is well implemented, and the addition of a ‘skip to next occurrence’ button makes progress through a long document both easy and fast.

Since all the results have been pre-fetched, there’s no time penalty as you switch from one generic file-type tab to another. Also, the inclusion of an ‘other search results’ box in the search sidebar, which shows exactly how many hits are returned in each category, prevents wasting time on unpopulated tabs. It’s within this same sidebar that a ‘refine search’ dialog box appears, dependent upon the category of file you’re currently looking at. Email searches can be refined by subject, from/to fields, importance, folder or date, while audio files offer metadata refinement of title, artist, album, genre and date. We also like the fact that Copernic makes it possible to search within the EXIF metadata of JPEG images – a search granularity most can only aspire to.

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