Google Now Indexes Microsoft Office & Other File Types
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SearchEngineWatch reports that Google has added the ability to index Microsoft Office files, including Word, Excel and PowerPoint and return them in search results. Additionally, Google spokesperson Cindy Mcaffrey told SearchEngineWatch that Google can also index RichText and PostScript formats.

Google identifies these new file types within search results much in the way it has identified PDF (Adobe's Portable Document Format) files within results since the search engine began including files of that type at the start of 2001. The file type is noted by an abbreviation (the same as the file extension the programs use when saving a file on a user's hard drive) in blue and in a bracket to the left of the document's title. They are:

  • Word - [DOC]
  • Excel - [XLS]
  • PowerPoint - [PPT]
  • RichText - [RTF]
  • PostScript - [PS]
  • Adobe Acrobat - [PDF]

 For example, a Google search for "accounting expense report forms" returned results that included Word, Excel and Acrobat (PDF) files, with each file type clearly labeled, as noted above. Clicking on the file's title will download the file to one's computer before opening it in the corresponding software.

To save download time, and lessen the possibility of downloading a virus or worm along with the file, users should first take advantage of the "View as HTML" link Google provides. Clicking this link displays a stripped down version of the file in the web browser rather than having to download it and save it to their hard drive. Users can save the lengthier process of downloading (and scanning for viruses) to only the most important or relevant files.

Users can also limit Google's search to a specific file type. For example, the search "legal research filetype:doc" returns only Word documents containing the keywords "legal" and "research." This limitation can also be achieved using the "File Format" option on Google's "Advanced Search" page.

These features could be very useful in locating memos, tables, or other documents published on the web that might not be obviously available via pages generally viewed by the public.

Google was the first major search engine to move beyond indexing just the traditional HTML format by adding documents in Adobe's popular PDF format to its search results earlier this year.

To read more about recent additions to Google's functionality, see these articles:

 

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