Using CloudMagic for unlimited searches is no longer free, but $5 per month is a small price for power users to pay for the Pro editions.
CloudMagic is growing up. This super-speedy search service debuted a few years ago and over timehas evolved to offer some very useful features, including Facebook and Twitter search. Now, though, CloudMagic is making some of its biggest changes yet, including the ability to integrate your personal search results with Google’s global Web results. And the company is no longer offering unlimited searches for free, a move that may alienate some users. However, 50 free searches a month will suffice for many; the unlimited searches of the Pro subscription costs $5 a month.
CloudMagic’s core search tools work the same as always: you sign up for an account, and link the services you’d like it to search. It supports a huge range of services, including AOL, Box, Dropbox, Evernote, Facebook, Gmail, Google Apps, Google Talk, GMX, Hotmail, iCloud, Mail.com, Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, Microsoft Office 365, MSN, Outlook.com, SkyDrive, Twitter, Windows Live, and Yahoo.
Once access has been granted, CloudMagic then begins indexing your accounts, which can take some time if your accounts are sizable. It took several hours to index a Gmail account containing thousands of messages, but only a few minutes to index a newer Twitter account. You can begin searching right away, but waiting until the indexing process is complete will deliver more accurate results.
The service is still available as it has been in the past, as a browser extension for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, an add-on for Internet Explorer, and a mobile app for the iPad, iPhone, and Android devices. The browser extensions and add-ons appear as simple search box on any relevant Web pages; if you surf to a page that doesn’t support CloudMagic, you don’t see the box. You can move the search box around the page if it’s in your way, and you can minimize it to a corner, too.
You enter your keywords in the search box, and CloudMagic goes to work, instantly (and I do mean instantly) displaying results as you type. The results appear in a column that appears below the CloudMagic search box as soon as you begin typing. Results are organized by source; if you enter a search string while on your Gmail page, you’ll see results from there, but you also can scroll down to see results from your other accounts, like Facebook and Twitter. In CloudMagic’s latest iteration, the results are as accurate as speedy as they have always been.
What’s new about CloudMagic is how you can access its search results. It is no longer limited to displaying results in its own search box. CloudMagic now lets you see your personal CloudMagic results when conducting Google searches. This feature, which is available using Chrome, Firefox, and Safari with the browser extension installed (except Internet Explorer) works whenever you enter a search query in Google. CloudMagic displays your personal results—from any accounts you’ve indexed—alongside your Google search results. If you search for a local restaurant on the Web, CloudMagic could, for example, display any tweets or Facebook status messages your friends may have posted about it. It’s a handy way to mix personal and global Web search together. Results are displayed right on Google’s results pages, in a box that appears to the right side of Google’s results. You can see messages, tweets, Google docs, and more, all of which are organized by source, just like any other CloudMagic results. They don’t interfere with your Google results, as they sit off to the side, but when a relevant result is returned, it’s easily accessible.
While all users will appreciate CloudMagic’s new search tools, some may not appreciate the new price tag that comes along with using them too frequently. CloudMagic is still offering a free version, but it’s not unlimited, as it was in the past. The free version of CloudMagic is for users who need less than 50 “previews” a month; anyone needing more will have to pay $5 a month for its Pro account. CloudMagic considers a preview the action you take after getting the search result, in which you click the result that seems relevant and you’re shown a quick preview of the content it returned.
In all of the time that I’ve been using CloudMagic, I’ve never used more than 50 previews per month, but if I needed to search more often, I’d be willing to pay for CloudMagic Pro. $5 a month is a small price to pay for one of the best search services around.
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Liane Cassavoy is a veteran technology and business journalist. She contributes regularly to PCWorld and has written about business issues and products for Entrepreneur Magazine and other publications. She is the author of two business start-up guides published by Entrepreneur Press.