At IveTriedThat, we love nothing more than to review something that won’t actually cause us to lose money. That’s why, when Google released the Google Pack, we were jumping with joy to hear that we got a whole mess of free software to review. Seriously. I had a hard time convincing Joe to keep his pants on.
Either way, Google offers a pretty useful collection of free software that should be installed by any PC user. To start things off, the pack consists of Google’s current list of available software, which includes Google Talk, Google Earth, Google Desktop, Google Toolbar, Google Photo Screensaver, and Picasa. At this time, the Google Pack also features Adobe Reader, Spyware Doctor, Norton Security Scan, and Skype. The list of third-party applications changes from time to time. Due to these changes, I will only be reviewing the software provided by Google.
I have been using Google Talk since it first premiered. It has become my main form of communication through instant messaging clients and it easily allows me to contact other Gmail or Google Talk users. If you don’t currently have a Gmail account, I would recommend skipping this in the installation process because it won’t serve much purpose for you now. Although, you could always register a Gmail account and take advantage of web based email and Google Talk.
Now this is a pretty nifty piece of software. You essentially have the power to browse entire globe within the confines of your monitor. Most importantly, Google Earth offers more than just overhead views of your house. You can find local businesses, get driving directions, see places you’ve never seen before, and instantly jump from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Pyramids in Egypt. It truly is a remarkable program.
This program offered little usefulness because I have Windows Vista installed; however, if you haven’t made the transition to Vista just yet, then Google Desktop may be the program for you. This program has two parts: the desktop side bar and the search function. The sidebar includes a number of Google Gadgets that range from the current weather to a slide show of pictures found on your computer. The second feature, the search function, automatically indexes nearly every file on your computer. This allows you to search for pictures, files, emails, or documents without having to browse through every individual folder.
This program is rather simple but offers a lot. Although, this is the one program that you will never interact with. Why? Because it’s a screensaver and only works when you aren’t using the computer. This program allows you to designate pictures stored locally on your computer to create a screensaver of either a slide show or a collage of photos. It’s simple and pleasant and worth the install.
Picasa is easily the crowning jewel of the Google Pack and it’s my favorite piece of software offered by Google. Picasa searches your computer and conveniently organizes the pictures it finds. From there, you can create albums, add labels, password protect pictures, and rate photos. Even better yet, this program doesn’t stop at organization. You can easily edit and manipulate photos in seconds to get that perfect picture. If you own a digital camera and store pictures on your computer, Picasa is pretty much essential to keeping everything organized.
The Google Pack
The Google Pack simply makes using your computer a much easier process. It’s functionality rivals programs that would easily cost a couple hundred dollars, but Google does a beautiful thing and offers everything for free. You can now keep your computer organized and updated with the things you need most often right at your fingertips. It’s free and easy–what could be better?