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Windows Desktop Search 3.0 is now available (link to download page). It’s free, and it’s for XP. WDS enables Mac-like instant searching of files and Office items, including contacts, appointments, tasks, etc.

I know I’m late to the game on this one. If WDS is in version 3.0 already, I’m sure most people already have it. But if you don’t, it’s a must-download. WDS adds a small search box to your taskbar. It indexes your files in the background (your Office files and My Documents, by default, but you can choose additional folders), and you can search just by typing in the box. Results appear as you type. Hit Enter, and a results page opens with additional options for sorting results.

For a law office, this is particularly helpful. While a program like Time Matters keeps all this information centralized, you can now do the same thing on an ad-hoc basis. WDS is also far more flexible, and searches by document properties. So if you type in the name of your co-counsel, it will bring up not only their contact information, meetings, etc., but also documents on file that they created.

Indexing is done in the background, and the indexer will slow down or stop to allow you to work. Except for the initial install and index, I haven’t experienced any WDS-related slowdown. Definitely get this.