Lookout 1.2 is a free, add-on search tool for Microsoft Outlook. While it lacks the power and sophistication of HotBot Desktop or X1 Search, it's convenient for anyone who relies on Outlook to schedule appointments, enter contacts, and write e-mail. Lookout also allows you to search files on local drives (for example, hard drives, and CD and DVD drives), a feature that's easy to configure via Lookout's Options dialog. This app is so hot that Microsoft recently purchased Lookout Inc., the tiny start-up behind Lookout, so don't be surprised if you see a major overhaul of Lookout soon. Our prediction: Microsoft will integrate an enhanced Lookout into future versions of either Internet Explorer or Windows. But is Outlook really the best place to conduct file searches? Unless you're an Outlook devotee, probably not.
Lookout is a small, 849KB download
that installs in less than 2 minutes--that is, if your Windows PC is already running Microsoft.Net Framework 1.1, a system upgrade essential for Lookout-Outlook integration. Our test PC did not have Framework installed, a problem quickly rectified by Lookout's setup routine, which downloaded and installed the 23MB Framework file. This extra step added 6 minutes to the overall setup time.
Lookout installs as a toolbar within Outlook and, after installation, immediately indexes your e-mail messages and attachments so that it can quickly find messages thereafter. Unfortunately, Lookout doesn't index the contents of attachments by default--if you want to search by keyword, you'll need to open Lookout Options > Advanced and reindex by file type. On the plus side, Lookout is fast. We indexed our test group of 129 e-mail messages in 32 seconds, which is very fast.
Lookout is a free search tool for Outlook users. It's fast, but it lacks a file viewer.
Lookout's biggest weakness is that it lacks a file viewer, an essential tool found in both HotBot Desktop and X1 Search. File viewers are helpful when identifying subtle differences between two similarly named files. Nor does it work with Outlook Express, but we suspect Microsoft will remedy that shortcoming in the near future.
Currently, support for Lookout includes only a FAQ on the original Lookout site (accessible through Microsoft.com). It would be nice to have e-mail or user forums for additional questions.