There are very few apps I can’t imagine life without, but at the top of that short list is Everything. I’ve used it for over a decade, and it’s an integral part of my Windows experience.
What Is Everything?
Everything is a windows freeware file search application created by programmer David Carpenter in 2008. We shared Everything with our readers for the first time shortly thereafter, and some of us, like yours truly, have been using it ever since.
The single most notable thing about Everything is the speed—which is why we give it a shoutout whenever we talk about searching Windows faster.
If you’ve ever used Windows file search or even some third-party file search tools, the most memorable thing about the experience is how long it takes
Even after all these years, Windows file search is agonizingly slow. Truly, it’s agony. In an age of inexpensive SSDs with instant booting and instant program loading, waiting thirty seconds for Windows to grind through a search feels like torture. It doesn’t matter if you’re still using Windows 7 or upgraded to Windows 11, Windows search has never been speedy.
Everything sidesteps the shortcomings of the Windows file search by doing something that was novel when the application was first released and remains novel: it taps right into the file table at the file system level for lightning-fast search.
How fast is it? It’s so fast that if you create a new file, by the time you open up the Everything search box a moment later, the file is instantly in the index. It’s unlikely you could create the file and get to the search box fast enough to beat the nearly instantaneous addition of the entry into the Everything index.
The only downside to Everything is that it works off the file table and the file names and does not index the contents of the files. If you need a tool that will look deep into documents and help you find key phrases, this isn’t it. But if you’re just trying to find where, exactly, you put that
2022 Johnson Farms Drilling Proposal Rev.A.pdf file or your tax returns from five years ago, it’s almost magical in its speed and efficiency.
And Here’s Why I Find Everything Indispensable
I titled this piece “I Can’t Imagine Using Windows Without the Everything App,” and I say that without a bit of hyperbole. I’ve used Everything daily since it came out and across multiple versions of Windows—Windows XP all the way to Windows 11—multiple computer upgrades, and on every Windows machine I’ve owned.
It’s a perfect tool for somebody like me. I have a huge number of files, across a huge number of folders and drives. But as long as I name files and folders sensibly as they come in, it doesn’t matter where they end up. They could be on the C drive, the G drive, or even buried in a network drive hosted down in my basement (you can enable network drive search in the Everything settings).
No matter where the files are, I can find them if I remember even a fraction of the folder or file name. Old taxes, work forms, Photoshop projects, comic books I hoarded five years ago, you name it. If I want it, I can churn it up to the surface with a few keywords.
For example, Nintendo recently sent a cease and desist letter to the Internet Archives to pull their massive archive of old Nintendo Power issues. Naturally, as a lifelong amateur archivist, that made me say, “Didn’t I squirrel scans of Nintendo Power away somewhere?” and sure enough, I did. I might have forgotten where they were, but Everything didn’t.
It instantly powered through 3,558,139 files and folders on my computer and the attached drives to find exactly what I wanted when I wanted it.
Now you might not have 3.5 million files. And you might not have random old files from a decade ago that you want to find. But even for files from last month, it’s an unbelievably time saver. If you can remember anything about the file—part of the name, the file extension, the root directory it might be deeply buried in—you can dig it up with a few keystrokes.
Even on my laptops, where the files are definitely not stacked ten terabytes deep like on my main computers, I still install Everything immediately. I just can’t live without that instant file search, and I certainly don’t want to be stuck waiting for Windows search to sift through the files at the rate of a folder a minute.
In fact, after writing this veritable love letter to the app, I’m going to go donate to the project, and I hope you download the app and maybe shoot a few bucks their way too.
And hey, if you’re on the fence… it’s freeware. Download it. Try it. Feel the unbelievable thrill of searching, well, Everything, on your computer instantly.
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