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Tutorials – Recoll

Article from Issue 212/2018

Even in the age of cloud computing, personal computers often hold thousands of files: text files, spreadsheets, word processing docs, configuration files, and HTML files, as well as email and other message formats. If it takes too long to find the file you need, chase it down with the Recoll local search engine.

Recoll [1] is free software for Linux and Windows systems that adds a local search engine to your desktop or local network. And if you think that desktop search engines don't make sense in this age of cloud computing, I beg to disagree!

Look inside any school, NGO, small/medium enterprise, or individual computer used for more than a few years: Almost always, you will find big archives of mostly textual content that will never be uploaded in the cloud or otherwise exposed to an online search engine. Sometimes the reason is mere lack of time, bandwidth, or money. Sometimes it is privacy. Sometimes the reason is easier compliance with regulations like the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) [2]. In all cases, deploying local search capability could make thousands and thousands of files much more useful for their owners.

Recoll is an excellent answer to the need for a local search engine. The Recoll search tool offers flexible interfaces, good documentation, and easy installation. Thanks to a relatively simple search language, Recoll can analyze and index text inside all the most common document formats, even when those documents are "hidden" inside other files (for example, an OpenDocument file zipped and attached to an email message). In most cases, you can preview or open the files found with your search by just clicking on them inside the Recoll window.


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