Although some bloggers are hailing it as a 'new' release by Google, Quick Search Box was released as part of the Google Codes project earlier this year but it's now been given an official release by Google with it's own web page.
And you can see why Google think the tool is fitting of a major release. Quick Search Box is a basically a Spotlight-style app that can search for just about anything both on and offline. In this way, it's very similar to Google Desktop, except it's far more discreet and lightweight and there's no annoying indexing to wait for.
Rather, Quick Search Box floats on your desktop ready for action whenever you need it. Previously, it only performed basic searches on your hard and online but this official release makes it an altogether more powerful proposition.
Quick Search Box can performs more through hard drive and online searches and it can even launch applications. As you'd expect from a Google product, searches are incredibly detailed and quick and results are displayed clearly. Search for 'Firefox', for example, and it immediately brings-up the Firefox icon ready for launching. In this way, Quick Search Box acts not only as a search tool, but as a launcher as well.
You can even customize Quick Search Box to search only those online sites that you choose such as YouTube, Wikipedia, Gmail and Google Docs. To search both your Gmail and Google Docs account, you need to enter your Gmail account credentials in the 'Accounts' section in Preferences. However, when I tried to search my accounts using Quick Search Box, the search seemed to hang for a while and no results were found. Whether this was a technical glitch or a bug I'm not sure, but it was a little disappointing.
There is also an impressive number of preferences in Quick Search Box for a small application. You can customize whether to show the Dock icon, configure a hotkey to reveal it, select which sites are searched and as already mentioned, add a Google account.
Quick Search Box has come a long way since it's initial release. Whether it's good enough to replace Spotlight I'm still not convinced but it's certainly in the right ball park.