Google's Instant Search is probably a love-it or hate-it feature. Some might find it confusing, while others might find it useful to see your search results as you type. Gmail doesn't have instant search built-in, but if you want lightning-fast searches, you can try CloudMagic. You get instant-search functionality for your Gmail messages, which is something akin to OSX Spotlight or Windows 7 Search-as-you-Type. CloudMagic even gives you the added functionality of offline search. We recently gave CloudMagic a try and we're pleased with the results.

CloudMagic is a lightweight extension that installs directly to your browser, and provides a quick way to search your Gmail, Google Docs and contacts. Because CloudMagic is a browser extension, it works seamlessly in combination with the actual service you will use it for, namely Gmail and Google Docs.

Instant Search

Downloading and installing CloudMagic takes only a few minutes. Visit cloudmagic.com, and click the "Install Now" button, and you will be led to a page with a few instructions. The extension works on Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, and the actual download is just less than 3 MB.

Cloud Magic Indexing

The first thing you need to do with CloudMagic is define your accounts. You can include an unlimited number of Gmail and Google Apps accounts, and CloudMagic will be able to index all of these within a few minutes of installing (depending on the size of your inbox). Just make sure you have the "All Mail" label visible in IMAP.

Combined Search

CloudMagic gives you three ways of accessing instant search for Gmail:

  • First is the search box at the top of the Gmail interface. You have the option of replacing the default Gmail search box with CloudMagic, or just have both appear side by side, which is the default.
  • Second option is by clicking the CloudMagic icon. This can be used independently of a Gmail window, so you can do a search even when viewing other sites.
  • Third is a standalone CloudMagic window, which gives a better view of your items. Results from emails, documents and contacts are displayed on a single window.

Cloud Magic Search Window

Another benefit of CloudMagic is that you can search across all your Gmail accounts. This includes native Gmail or Google Mail accounts, and also Gmail from Google Apps. So if you have your own domain email hosted by Gmail, you can use CloudMagic to search for relevant items from all the accounts defined. You can setup combined search results in the CloudMagic Preferences page.

Offline Search

Perhaps the biggest advantage that CloudMagic gives users is offline search. Data is indexed locally on your hard drive, which lets you search your Gmail messages, Google Docs and contacts even without an active Internet connection. Content can be read (sans attachments and images) right within the CloudMagic search results box. CloudMagic assures users that the storage data uses is minimal, as it only includes text. Images and attachments are not included in the index file.

CloudMagic View Item

Should You Use CloudMagic?

Gmail is email from a search company, and so you might expect perfect search results every time. But if you want the added functionality of combined-account searches, offline search and instant search-as-you-type, CloudMagic is a good extension to try. CloudMagic is a free software and service from Webyog, Inc., and is currently in version 2.60 beta.