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How to Get a Blazing Fast, Powerful, XP-Style Search in Windows 7

00_filesearchex_main_window

Are you one of the many people frustrated with the way the search utility changed in Windows 7? Handy features from previous versions have been moved or removed and it can be very slow for a lot of files.

You can tweak the Windows 7 search utility to speed it up and you can even disable the search tool in Windows 7 so you can use a third party program, such as Everything, to search for files. We found another utility, called FileSearchEX, that provides a fast, Windows XP-like simple search interface with low system requirements.

FileSearchEX is not installed in the standard way and administrative rights are not needed to run it.

To install FileSearchEX, extract the downloaded file (see the download link at the end of the article) and copy the FileSearchEX.exe file.

01_copying_filesearchex_executable

Paste the FileSearchEX.exe file in the %WINDIR% folder (generally C:\Windows). At this point, there are two methods of finishing the installation. If you are uncomfortable editing the registry, then you can use the easier method, which is to double-click on the FileSearchEX.exe file to run it.

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On the FileSearchEX main window, select Install from the View menu.

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On the Install Options dialog box, select the Enable folder right click menu option to add the FileSearchEX option to the right-click menu and change the name of the menu option in the edit box, if desired. If you want to uninstall FileSearchEX, select the Remove folder right click menu (uninstaller) option.

04_install_options_dialog

The program automatically makes the appropriate changes to your system to make sure FileSearchEX runs.

Close FileSearchEX by selecting Close from the File menu. The program interface opens automatically when you use the Search via FileSearchEX option on the right-click menu.

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To use the second method, double-click the Advanced Manual Install.reg file included in the .zip file you downloaded. Confirm the two dialog boxes that display.

05a_using_reg_file_to_install

To search using FileSearchEX, right-click on a local drive, network drive, library, or folder and select Search via FileSearchEX (or whatever you named the option) from the popup menu.

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The FileSearchEX main window displays, showing the selected drive or folder in the Look in edit box. To search for text in a file name, enter the search term in the Search for files or folders named edit box. If you want to search for text inside a file, enter your search word or phrase in the Containing text edit box instead. Click Search to begin the search.

The Stop button flashes red while the search is being performed. You can cancel the search by clicking Stop.

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The results of the search display in the right pane. By default, the name of each file, the folder in which it each file was found, and the size and type of each file displays in the right pane.

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To filter the results by date, select the Date check box. Options for specifying date parameters display. Use the drop-down list to select whether you want to search based on the date Modified, Created, or Last Accessed. You can also choose to search for files modified, created, or last accessed in the last number of months or days or within a date range.

09_using_the_date_option

If you know the approximate size of the file you want to find, you can search based on that. Select the Size check box and choose whether you want to find a file that is at Least or at Most a certain number of KB. Enter the number of KB in the edit box.

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Additional settings to filter the search are available under the Advanced Options check box. Specify where you want to search or not search, whether you want the search to be case sensitive, and whether you want the Search string modified by selecting the appropriate check boxes.

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FileSearchEX allows you to customize the details that display for the results in the right pane. To change these settings, select Choose Details from the View menu.

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On the Choose Details dialog box, select the check boxes in the Available fields box to turn on and off columns in the right results pane. You can also specify which column on which you want to sort the results. The columns you selected in the Available fields box are available in the Choose sorted column and direction drop-down list for selection. Indicate whether you want to Disable the sorting for the selected column or sort Up or Down. Change the width of the column you selected to sort in the Width of selected column (in pixels) edit box.

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There are a few general program settings you can change by selecting Settings from the View menu. You can choose to skip drives when searching in My Computer and change how a search of My Computer behaves. When searching inside files, you can tell FileSearchEX to only search inside of certain types of files by enter extensions separated by vertical bars in the bottom edit box.

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You don’t need to go back to Windows Explorer to perform basic operations on the files found in your search. For example, to get the properties of a file, select the file in the right pane and select Properties from the File menu.

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You can also perform the same basic actions from the File menu, plus Cut and Copy from the Edit menu, by right-clicking on a file (or multiple files) and selecting an option from the popup menu. The Edit menu also allows you to easily select all the files in the results pane or clear selections you have made.

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FileSearchEX is able to handle millions of records in the results pane. It will also run in Windows XP and Vista.

Download FileSearchEX from goffconcepts.com.

Lori Kaufman is a freelance technical writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.

  • Published 08/26/11

Comments (12)

  1. markiz

    i always though W7 default search was blazing enough. it’s pretty good.

  2. gyffes

    Massive fan of Everything. Way simpler than this, I think, yet incredibly complete. It’s easier and faster for us to download Everything to a machine than to drill down into a filesystem looking for a particular file.

  3. Annie

    I use Locate32 on W7. Very fast. Easy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locate32

  4. Meena Bassem

    well, @ gyffes : if you mean “Everything” desktop search engine, then i use it too, but it can’t be added to R.Click menu

  5. Roger Newton

    W7 has a bad habit of losing files the W7 default search can’t find – FileSearchEX found them!

  6. Dakota Red

    I have used Agent Ransack for a few years, and it works flawlessly. Like FileSearchEX, it has a context menu that allows you to open the program with a right click. What I like about Agent Ransack is that I can search multiple drives simultaneously, along with setting very specific criteria such as dates, file sizes, file types, etc. Plus about a dozen or so search locations are preserved making it quicker to return to specific folders for regular searches.

    With only a quick trial installation of FileSearchEX, it appears to have very similar functions, so I will give it a fair shot against AR.

  7. Joel

    I personally think that the Win7 search is very fast but it royally BLOWS because I am unable to easily search for files by their extension and other options that XP allowed to filter searches by…Why Windows decided that the search filters and quicklaunch was such a terrible idea I don’t know, otherwise Win7 is an awesome OS

  8. Ben

    Yes, you can can add Everything Search to right-click menus very easily: goto Everything’s General options, check “Show shell context menus” — tada, right-click menus in Explorer.

    And enabling Win+S or Win+F hotkey in Everything makes it really handy also.

  9. georgeBS

    Most of these alternative search tools are simply a different front end to MS search.

    This [not very well advertised] http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/desktopsearch/technicalresources/advquery.mspx may help.

    Oh, don’t turn off indexing, it really doesn’t save resources, just mucks up search no matter which front end you use.

  10. KIMMY

    Tried to manual install, and I HAVE administrator rights.. it kept tell me that I didn’ so I installed from the main download folder and it works perfectly.

    Thank you.

    Win 7

  11. Chester

    Free Commander works very well just by using its filter feature. I can find a file in a few seconds. No administrator rights needed.

  12. James

    Is there any software application which can also search words in the document like word. I use everything desktop search application but it only searches for files. It would be great if I can find by words in the document because I don’t know the file name but I know the words in the document.

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