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  1. #1
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    Getting the most from Windows Search Part 1




    WOODY'S WINDOWS

    Getting the most from Windows Search — Part 1


    By Woody Leonhard

    Searching in Windows used to be a frustrating, error-prone exercise in which you depended on slow, space-hog programs to bring you dubious results.

    In Windows 7, search has improved enormously. But there are tricks that make work even better — some of which are applicable to earlier versions of Windows, too.

    The full text of this column is posted at WindowsSecrets.com/woodys-windows/getting-the-most-from-windows-search-part-1/ (opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.
    Last edited by Tracey Capen; 2011-09-21 at 16:00.

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    My Win7 laptop is in the shop so I'm ranting from memory, but...

    I think the W7 search stinks, to put it mildly. I haven't found a way to control it at all so it returns zillions of hits from email messages &etc when I'm just trying to find a file with "xyz" in the filename. You can't sort the results to try to isolate them by filename or location.

    Actually looking at http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/w...ing-in-Windows I see there are a bunch of keywords to control the search. So maybe I can limit it to search filenames if I can remember their obscure syntax. But I'd like some simple things like sort capabilities. Am I missing something?

    I generally use the Everything search engine (http://www.voidtools.com) if I need to find something by filename.

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    Win7 Search Stinks!

    Win7 search is really aggravating in more than one way, in addition to just not showing the proper results it comes up with a LOT. If you look at one of the finds to see if that is what you are looking for the search disappears and you have to do the search including entering the search terms all over again. There should be a way to avoid this but I haven't found it. Instead, I just NEVER use Win7 search.
    After looking around I found FileSearchEX which is a lot like the search in XP, MS's high point. I use it.
    Bob Kerns
    Last edited by Deadeye81; 2011-09-22 at 18:36. Reason: Removed thread introduction

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    iFilters

    I hope Woody will address the subject of iFilters in Part 2 of this article. As for the PDF iFilter, I currently use Foxit, but wonder if Adobes
    is better.

    Bill

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    Quote Originally Posted by garyfritz View Post
    My Win7 laptop is in the shop so I'm ranting from memory, but...

    I think the W7 search stinks, to put it mildly. I haven't found a way to control it at all so it returns zillions of hits from email messages &etc when I'm just trying to find a file with "xyz" in the filename. You can't sort the results to try to isolate them by filename or location.

    Actually looking at http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/w...ing-in-Windows I see there are a bunch of keywords to control the search. So maybe I can limit it to search filenames if I can remember their obscure syntax. But I'd like some simple things like sort capabilities. Am I missing something?

    I generally use the Everything search engine (http://www.voidtools.com) if I need to find something by filename.
    Actually, you can sort with the W7 search tool. Click the Orb, enter a search term, then when the initial list appears, click on See More Results at the bottom. This brings up an explorer windows where you can sort on any one of the columns.

    Bill

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    I'm a very big user of desktop search and have been using Copernic Desktop Search constantly (making on average perhaps 50 searches a day) ever since it came out. After reading Woody's article I keep asking myself, what is the point of trying to learn all these workarounds and subtleties of Windows Search when you can use free software like CDS that does instinctively what you want.

    There are two reasons why I will not even try Windows Search:
    1-If I have to know which folder to look in it really defeats the purpose of the whole thing. What I want is a tool that tells me if a phrase has been used in the past somewhere without having to know where (if I know where it is, I probably can find it by myself without a search tool). CDS allows you to find your stuff without the need to be overly organised or even knowing if you've saved a document or just received or sent it in Outlook, it will find it. This saves me a lot of time (if I'm not sure if I'll ever need a document I'll just leave it in Outlook knowing that Copernic will find it if I need it even if I don't know if I saved it on my hard drive or left it in an email).
    2-I don't want to have to fiddle with it if my documents are not in the Documents library or folder. I've never used the Documents feature since nearly everything I do are documents.

    I do not share at all Woody's preference for Google Desktop as it indexes just the first pages of a document (at least that's how it worked when it came out, I haven't looked at it since). I've got lots of documents that have hundreds of pages or more (one has 4 million words) and these are the most useful to my work (translation) as they are glossaries or databases converted to text files (so that I don't need to have Lotus Notes).

    In short, I'm really not convinced that there's any reason to prefer Windows 7 over a free tool. The only one I can find is to save the time of installing a third-party program, but that takes less time than actually reading the article, let alone figure out how to optimise it.

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    3 Star Lounger Woody's Avatar
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    @Bill -

    I use Foxit, too. Works for me.
    Woody

    For Dummies book author, Senior Contributing Editor for InfoWorld, and long-suffering Windows victim. Check out the latest at AskWoody.com.

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    Woody, I hope you tell us how to make the path show for the results in searches in the Start Menu.
    often that is really what I'm looking for, a family of documents or like items. enjoy your writing. thanks

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    3 Star Lounger Woody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by geospi View Post
    Woody, I hope you tell us how to make the path show for the results in searches in the Start Menu.
    often that is really what I'm looking for, a family of documents or like items. enjoy your writing. thanks
    Fastest way I know: do your search from the Start Menu (which notoriously turns up all sorts of junk! better to navigate to the location you expect, then launch the search from there). Right-click on the file and choose Open File Location. Click once in the navigation bar at the top, then Ctrl+C - and you've got the fully qualified file name, including path.
    Woody

    For Dummies book author, Senior Contributing Editor for InfoWorld, and long-suffering Windows victim. Check out the latest at AskWoody.com.

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    Use "Everything" from www.voidtools.com (look in the forums for an updated version, either build 451 or 452).

    It doesn't search inside files, but is the fastest searcher of filenames I have every seen. And it's a freebie.

    It indexes all attached disks by reading the NTFS master file table (much faster than reading each folder), then displays an incremental search box. As you type in the name of a file, it narrows the list down to display all files with whatever you've typed, in the name or extension.

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    Former MSFT Fan Begrudgingly On Win 7

    I used to be a MSFT bigot back up until about ten years ago. I increasingly relied on Linux for my clients from mid-90's on, but moving over 100% when Vista was pushed. Today I begrudgingly use Win 7 for some work (I move as much as I can to my personal Linux systems) and fell into the same catagory as those who are giving up on MSFT's dumbing down.

    I tried a few of these suggestions and determined that I still am hours behind each week if I try to struggle with Win 7 search. I have nearly 40GB of documents, truly documents and not video or MP3s on my work laptop. Many have multiple applications, so even with my careful filing into logical folders, I almost always struggle to find what I need right away.

    The result is that I defaulted back to the now ended Google Desktop (I understand the why of Google's decision but it is painful for me) or Agent Ransack. Thanks for trying to help, but the additional steps are mind numbing compared to the ease of searching for a file under XP.

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    Search is a very personal thing to people. The first time I used Windows 7 search I felt personally insulted. The fact that you have to wrangle it to get it to do basic things I think speaks of the polarizing effect it is having.

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    I just found out recently that Google desktop was no more. I really hated to learn this. It still works and I will continue to use it as long as possible. I've been singing its praises for years. Not because I'm a Google fanboy but because it has worked very well for me. Is there anything that comes close to what Google desktop does?

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