Google today released Google Desktop for Mac, the first version of the desktop tool available to Mac users. Most Mac users are probably using the built-in Spotlight search tool, but Google said its service would work perfectly alongside Apple 's tool, which is built into Mac OS X 10.4.

"We designed Google Desktop for Mac to be a companion for Spotlight," said Rose Yao, Google Desktop for Mac product manager. "Google Desktop searches users' web history and you can set it up to search Gmail too."

Using Google Desktop is like launching a widget without the need to go into Dashboard, according to Google. Two taps on the Command key brings up a small search window, and as soon as you start typing Google begins showing results, whether it's a document or an application.

The results window shows the last 10 items that match your search query. If you can't see what you're looking for, a link at the bottom of the results lists all the items found.

This launches your default web browser and opens a page that looks exactly like the Google search page on the internet. The results page shows you how many of each type of document Google Desktop found. It shows results for e-mail, web history, files, media and others.

"This is a big step for Google on the Mac platform," Yao said. "If you know how to use Google, you know how to use Google Desktop for Mac."

The results page in your browser also has a search box, so you can continue to search your hard drive from there if you want to. Or you can just search the internet for your query in the traditional way.

If you have Google Desktop installed, a new search criteria will be displayed on Google's search page. Alongside Web, Images, News, and Maps, you'll find Desktop. Clicking on this tab will display the results Google found locally on your computer.

Google Desktop does not see or record the results it brings back without the user's permission, nor send the results to its servers. The integration option can be disabled in the preferences menu if you're concerned about your data.

According to Google, deleted files can also be found. Google Desktop creates cached copies of files and other items each time you view them, and stores these copies on your Mac's hard drive. As a result, Google Desktop can be used to find prior versions of your files or ones you've accidentally deleted.

Any installed Spotlight plug-ins will also be used, Google said.