The average desktop search tool doesn’t exactly have much initiative. Run a search for “Stephen” and it doesn’t matter how many Steves or Stevens you’ve got, records with the original spelling is all that you’ll see.
AIKIN Desktop Search ($99) uses fuzzy searching to take this further. Search for Stephen here and you might get hits for Steven, Steve, Stevie, Stephanie, right down to Staten Island any anything similar, all neatly organised with the best results (usually) at the top.
The program installs easily on Windows XP or later, optionally integrating with Outlook so that you can run searches directly from the ribbon.
On first launch there’s a delay while AIKIN Desktop Search indexes your Outlook emails, tasks, calendar items, file names and contents. There’s no complex document parsing engine here, it’s just using standard Explorer IFilters, but if you can see the contents of a document in Explorer’s Preview pane then AIKIN Desktop Search should be able to index it.
Once the setup is complete, type a keyword or two in the search box and watch as the results appear almost immediately.
This is much more than just simple wildcard searching. When we searched for “multimedia”, for instance, the program didn’t only return exact matches and a single mis-spelling. It also understood that we might be interested in results containing just the word “media”, and that those would probably be more useful than hits containing “multi”, so placed them much higher in the results list.
Semantics-aware content searching can take this much, much further, providing matches to what you meant, rather than whatever you typed. The developer gives an example of a search for “discordant tones” automatically running searches on similar phrases, then telling you if, say, “inharmonious sounds” generates more results.
However you’re searching, results are presented as names, Outlook emails, or content hits in documents, web pages and more. You can filter these in various ways, single-click to view more details (see text hits in context, say), or double-click to open the source file or record in its default application.
The program runs as a $99 Pro version for the first 30 days of the trial. After that, you can run it as a Free edition, but with major restrictions: Outlook searches are limited to 10,000 emails, it only searches default document and file locations, fuzzy content search only works on the first 150 – 500 words of the document (depending on type), and more.
AIKIN Desktop Search is available for Windows XP and later.