How do I search for files in Windows Vista?
What is the most effective way to perform file, folder or data searches in Windows Vista? Is it the same as it was finding files in Windows XP?
No! Performing searches has drastically changed in Windows Vista; what used to be a nightmare is now an easily accomplished task using Vista's powerful new Search features.
If you're looking to find an application or file, you can now use the Start Search feature found in the Start menu.
For example, let's say that you wanted to find your Microsoft Office applications; you can do the following:
1. Click the Start button.
2. Type "office" in the Start Search box of the Start menu.
3. Select the desired program, file, or communication.
The screen below shows what Windows Vista returns if you follow the above steps:
If you are working with the Documents folder, you can perform an instantaneous search using the Searches folder from Favorite Links. The new Searches feature contains a number of specific searches that Windows Vista performs on startup; if you select one of the pre-saved criteria, you get immediate results.
To use Searches:
1. Open Documents.
2. Select Searches from Favorite Links.
3. Choose one of the pre-saved search criteria; the results are displayed instantaneously.
The following screen shows the Searches criteria followed by its results.
You can also use the Search box located at the top right of any folder to look for any file or application on your computer. Once completed, you may opt to click Save Search and save it as a pre-saved search criteria as mentioned above.
There's also the Search feature available in the Start menu. The Advanced feature button lets you supply additional information that can facilitate searches, as shown below.
As you can see, Windows Vista provides considerably more, and better, ways to find what you're looking for fast.
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Written by Dave Taylor
file search vista, microsoft windows vista, vista search, windows vista
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Reader Comments To Date: 291
This is most stupidest search ever !! wtf they removed F3!! dumb idiots have created the VISTA!! would smack them with a bat!! complete idiots!! damn!!
This thread is about Vista. Well, actually I'm a Windows 7 user, so this thread doesn't really apply to me, but I wanted to reassure you all: search utility in Seven is as bad as in Vista... Guaranteed...
I'm so upset with basic XP features which were working just simply and fine and are now broken or deeply hidden in Vista/Seven (search file, "invert selection" and so on...) that last week I decided to configure my PC with a dual boot Seven/Leopard. Seven for some mathematical applications I use for studies available only with Windows, and Mac OS for photo editing, music listening and file managing (with a working search feature, LOL....)
This way, it's just fine...
Is this illegal? Maybe: Uncle Jobs doesn't want us to install OS X on PCs, even if you paid for it. But selling dear operating systems which are just crap (Microsoft) or stylish hardware which costs 3 times the normal price (Apple) should also be illegal.
the search in vista is very very bad. i cant even search for a specific word in a doc.
xp was better
I really don't see how Microsoft can get away with providing such an inferior product - it just gets worse and worse.
This "search" feature is pure crap - it's like the people who designed it are from an alternate reality "Planet Stupid" and their garbage got into our 'verse. . .
I agree with an earlier posting - a rebate and a lot of "I'm sorry" money from Microsoft is due. . .
it is a matter of survival
and MS smells like a dead animal
XP was basically a working machine but
to get some cash flow enter
which is so absurd
the only thing that could be worse
would be to offer a fix called
gotta have the cash flow
the total disregard for SERVING the community
Windows is SO intrusive:
buy my VISTA,
buy my Windows 7 and
every time I open my browser
an MSN prompt suggests the user should update
with apparently no option to remove the
scandalous MSN prompt.
next thing we see Windows
will be out on the streets
in the gutter
with a cup in every hand begging
for small change.
have ye no shame?
Basicly Vista sucks! a simple right ckick and search function will do fine, I just want to search old files on my DVD drive can we make Windows more complicated? Lets all go to Mac, I have never used Mac but I'm thinking about is.
Vista search is the worst search I have ever seen. It is SO frustrating. Anyone know of an alternative?
How do I find files on my computer ? I cant find my music or anything..
im excited to see that im not alone in having headache with vista's search function. this makes me feel good about this xp machine i'm currently working on since it can't support the memory requirement of vista. and the fact that windows xp will be supported by microsoft until 2014 means there's little reason to ditch xp and hurry up to the stores to purchase a new copy of windows 7.
YOU wrote at the top, "Performing searches has drastically changed in Windows Vista; what used to be a nightmare is now an easily accomplished task using Vista's powerful new Search features."
That is the stubidest thing I've ever heard.
The OLD search was easy and made sense.
Vista's new search is an abortion! (Do you even work with this boat anchor? I have to now.)
All I want to do is find a doc file with a phrase I remember I wrote in it and MS in it's evil stupidity has chosen to make it as hard as humanly possible.
It's like they took everything I used the most and completely hidden them from me now.
(I won't even talk about how they've broken Power Point now.
Why, oh why, can't they just leave things alone?
And it's unacceptable that you can call buffoonery like that "...what used to be a nightmare is now an easily accomplished..."
Looks like this thread is still a popular topic - keeps getting replies.
And, it also looks like my feelings about Windows Search are shared by mo' folk than I imagined.
I agree with previous posters. Windows search just gets worse and worse with every new revision.
By far the best one was Win2k. You just hit F3, and start typing, because you are immediately put in the "filename: " field. And if you are searching for text within the document, then the check box is right there below it.
That's the way I want to see it because the only thing I am going to search for in a file folder is FILES. And after that, the only other thing I might be searching for is stuff WITHIN FILES.
Things like "how big is it?" and "When was it modified?" are useful, but are hardly (and I mean really pretty friggin far from) being my highest convern. I'll resort to those only if I'm searching a very, very wide scope - like the whole disk - for a very, very broad term like *.doc)
90% of the time that I hit F3, I'm either looking for a file in the current folder or below, OR, I'm looking for text in a file right here in the current folder. Searches on a larger scale than that are pretty rare.
When WinXP came around, I suffered MONTHS of trying to re-adjust to the fact that after I hit F3, it was time to sit down with a cup of coffee and wade through all the options. Click here, expand this list, find a checkbox for this...
And most annoying of all, XP just up and decided that for a whole lot of files, it was just plain gonna skip them and not include them in the search. For instance, searching for text within files would completely skip looking in .ASP files, which is precisely where I wanted it to look. Then I have to go through this weird procedure to tell it to search in asp files. (open services, find search service, right click in the treeview to expand that, select this, type "asp"... yikes!)
And now, with Windows 7, it appears that the search doesn't search for ANYTHING AT ALL inside files.
UPDATE on my last column.
It seemed to me that not even Microsoft would do something so monumentally stupid as I was describing. So, I poked around a bit more and found the "Search options" under the "Organize" drop-down. In there, you will find options for "search in files", and some other useful options too.
Just goes to show: I should either post my rants only on blogs that let me edit previous posts, or else I should be more careful not to post too soon before looking more carefully. ;-) Mea Culpa.
Glad it's not just me. Tried to search for a file last night, I knew the filename, I knew the filetype (.doc) and I knew I had dozens of copies of it scattered across my machine in various backup snapshot directories and in 'my documents' and for an hour Vista refused to find it. I am a very competent computer-literate person but eventually I had to abandon the search facility and manually search for it - when I'd found it I used Vista to scan the actual folder for the actual filename and it still refused to identify it - the search facility is nothing short of pathetic. I suspected it was buggy but this was the first occasion where I'd had the spare time to properly test and prove it was faulty.
I am so glad I found this page. I've been going slowly insane over the past two years retweaking, reindexing, and resetting the search options in Vista time after time after time. I work with hundreds of different files at a time for my work so simply knowing which directory the files may be in is not always enough.
The settings are a joke. They change within days, hours, or even minutes after setting them for the 12 millionth time. "Indexing" is likewise a nightmare. It indexes whatever the frick it feels like, WHEN it feels like. Most recently (today) it would not find a file I have downloaded twice this week. Ironically, the file is a WMA file. HA! Microsucks can't find its own proprietary file types. Advanced Search is retarded and no quicker than manually hunting down each file directory by directory. The "Search Everywhere" option is so ironic that Oxford should replace the #1 entry for Irony in their dictionary with a screen cap of the Vista search box.
On the advice of others on this page (and in sheer desperation to find a file I knew existed, just didn't know WHERE I had saved it to) I downloaded Agent Ransack. It's a simple search program that works exactly as a search program should, i.e. CHECKS ALL THE FILES on your computer to see if they match your search parameters. Are you listening, Bill Gates?!
BTW, I found this page by typing "I hate Vista search."
When i do a search for a certain word windows vista search i always get files repeated 3 or four times in the search list that was compiled. What a joke.
I'm using search on W7, and I have to say it sucks as much as people say vista search sucks.
I want to search for folders named debug or release. I used to search for "debug;release" but that won't work now. Have to do each separately. In addition, not only does it find files or folders, but it is finding any file that even mentions debug in the file! When I want that feature I will use it, meanwhile, I just want to find folders (that's directories) - not even files, but haven't found a way to do this. Meanwhile using search is even more useless than just looking in the folder !!
Micorsoft should try something they might be good at like herding goats, programming is not it. I've been in tech support for over 20 years and Vista is the new ME.
I'll second comment by 'Andy W'
had same experience.
I just need to search a file that I know that i had created or mdoified between two dates - the result an entire impossibility!!!
Why did they have to change a reasonably good search system - the mind boggles -or maybe this is a microsoft genetic defect?
I have been having many problems finding files too.
One way around is to add a wildcard, "*", at the beginning and end of the search term.
Dave, are you really serious?
For the sake of your immortal soul I really hope MS didn't pay you money to say this!!
Vista search sucks, in so many ways!
It doesn't even let me decide myself when to search for *either* file names or file contents, and I can't use wildcards in the search.
And often it doesn't find anything, even though it's there, or else it finds completely unrelated stuff.
I have tried all kinds off possible settings, including disabling indexed search (but also indexing "everything"), but nothing works.
In my opinion there should be a federal law against MS operating as a software company...
I vigorously disagree with any claim that this is a powerful new search tool. It is in fact so poorly designed that it would not be unfair to suggest Microsoft assigned idiots to the work.
In the past I have regularly searched for single words or phrases within files and until Vista's arrival had never any reason to complain.
I reset my search preferences to include file content and the search tool continues to be worthless.
Now when I am looking for a specific word, which frequently is how I carry out searches, I must go through my documents separately and use the edit/find function.
This truly was an incompetent bit of work for which the staff and especially designers who carried it out ought to have been handed reprimands as the least of the consequences to be desired.
I have Vista Ultimate 64 on my computer, refusing to pay Microsoft's eye gouging 219 dollars for top of the line Windows 7. When this computer is ready to be replaced - I intend to switch to Apple, for no reason other than, I have had enough of Microsoft
What astounds me is that Apple never even capitalized on this in any of their commercials. Had I known of this flaw, I would have resisted our office upgrade to Windows 7. I'm furious at my IT guys for not researching this better. At this point, I will push for reversion to XP.
I am astounded that anyone would think the search feature in Vista or system 7 is an improvement. What we have is quite the opposite. They are not alone the search feature that have developed in Apple OS land have been just a appalling. The basic assumption coming from the developers is that everyone has filed everything away in an orderly way that they can remember without having to do a search. I hate to break it to them but I use a computer in order to do this kind of stuff. It is not a small little nice feature it is an essential tool that allows me to function. I need to be able to search for all my files. It is hard to imagine that on this planet there is an idiot out there who thought it was reasonable when I put in a search criteria to return email messages. I have millions of emails. Yes I am not exaggerating millions of emails. When I am searching for a file name I expect files with that criteria to return. Can the developers grasp just how much more useful the old ways were? In Apple OS land they seem to have gone nuts trying to come up with a clever name making the search feature harder to use. On the windows side of things the simplicity of being able to search using * as a variable so that you could narrow in by file name was extremely useful. Now too much is hidden. I feel like I am being pushed to think in a way that is counter intuitive. It just leads to frustration. Why is it now so easy to find things using google and so hard to find things opn ones own computer. How could this opportunity to make things easier have been missed?
Well, I thought I must have fallen asleep and woken in a parallel universe when I read Dave's introduction!
Vista Search is a nightmare - it just doesn't do the job.
However.... I think I may have a clue as to what the problem is.
In earlier versions of Windows, the facility was called 'Find', which certainly implied that whatever you were looking for would in fact be found.
Then it was renamed to 'Search' - which doesn't guarantee that anything will be found.
So you see, it's just a game...
Vista would be a joke, except it's not funny and it wastes my time, expensively. I take it from other posts here that no notice was taken by MS of the feedback regarding 'search' and it's the same in W7? Can that really be true?
Do MS really think we want to play hunt the thimble with our files? Or do they think the only thing we ever look for are photos and music?
I have Used vista search for the first time today and i was amazed how confusing it is. Especially on first use.
I like a few people above was getting no results when i knew there should be some; even after i moved the folder where i keep a really large number of docs to 'My documents': which I believe is an indexed folder. There is a microsoft paper which includes a macro that seems to fix this.
I suppose I will be ok now and will get some results a bit quicker now i know how to use the thing. But it is really cumbersome and could have been implemented better. Like some one said people are either looking either for a file they know part of the filename for or they want all the files containing a certain key word. Why couldn't they have one of those dropdown arrows after the magnifying glass to switch between searching for filenames and in file names? It would be still a bit hidden away but at least not as bad as trying to activate the advanced search.
How much did you get paid from Microsoft for writing this bull that this search better? because it sucks
To search a folder for all files with an extension, e.g. *.PSD I found this works:
(Technically not the same search, but just trying to cope here.)
Wow... so it DOES suck, and it's not just me. How can they get away with this??? I can't find simple files that I KNOW are in folders. Why can't the search pick them up????
I'm afraid I don't agree with Dave either. The previous Windows search (I set XP back to even earlier versions of search which was just fine) offered me to search something like
This would immediately return any word doc that contained that part of a name.
I could choose if I wanted only the filenames searched or the whole document inside, choose by date, size, etc.
With Vista the search takes considerably longer and often returns not what I know is there. I then go manually and find what I looked for within the next half hour with the EXACT spelling I entered in the file name, and Vista search returns nothing. That just sucks.
Google Desktop Search is the ideal solution so the suckery stops and I get my files listed in no time.
Sorry, Dave, but this post needs updating.
I am constantly wondering, if the vista search is working properly, where did all my files go that it should have found? I have to fall back on opening up and inspecting every folder, which is to say, searching manually because the automatic search is unreliable. But I will admit, if you want to search for files in a way that occasionally sometimes works for simple tasks, vista is easy. I wouldn't mind keeping it around, but I would want someone to provide me an actual reliable search engine for those times when I really need to find something.
When I click "Start" to open the menu window, the "Search" choice (above recent items on your example) is missing. How can I add it to my menu?
Has anyone tried Agent Ransack on Vista or 7? It was much better than the XP search, to start with, and it probably is MUCH MUCH better than vista or 7, since they are totally worthless.
Personally I won't upgrade from my (most used) Windows 2000 machine, as it works the way I want, and performs much better than any other computer I use. I have two XP units and hate them. Windows 2000 is much easier to get running the way I want it to, no jumping through hoops to get 3 pane view in Explorer WITH a background picture (possible but a pain in XP) etc.
Windows Vista and Windows 7 search is the poorest, most feature desolate search I have ever seen.
I have many text files produced by my software, with a custom extensions. In XP, I could easily search their content.
In Windows 7, it is impossible as far as I can see. I've followed the instructions of 5 different websites. Win 7 search is great if you can't remember where you put your word doc, but if you want to use it for something serious, it is utter excremement.
I searched for AA. Vista returned msp.doc.
How did that meeting go? "Hey, let's default to indexed searching, but let's not index everything!"
Really? So now the search feature gives the wrong results, but hey, it sucks much faster now.
You must love Vista search. You must love search for Vista and Windows 7 because it was ordained. You must love Vista search, even though it can't ever find anything, and is otherwise a waste of disk space, you must love it. Love it, search it.
Agree with many earlier comments: "vista search function is the worst it has ever been."
Absolutely drives me MAD when I try to find anything using the Vista Search function. It fails to find what I'm looking for and throws up a lot of distracting clutter, after taking forever to try to find what I'm seeking. Am used to Win98 and Win2000, and have never used XP, but Vista is absolutely DEMONIC--and I'm convinced that MicroSnot/Gates has deliberately made it maddening to use... WHY? Maybe Gates is really SATAN in disguise!??? Anyway, does anybody know where to find a good REPLACEMENT SEARCH ADD-ON to replace the built-in Search (cr@p) that came with Vista?
I must agree with the complainers - Vista search is terrible. Just terrible.
Folks, at first I was thinking Vista search sucks, I've been using Windows since 3.0 ..
Today I was getting annoyed, wanting to smash and I did a little researching. To expand your search capabilities, go into CONTROL PANEL
click CLASSIC VIEW
click FOLDER OPTIONS
and notice the tab at the top that says 'SEARCH', there you will find an array of options that hopfully you can modify to acheive what u need to..
I was trying to figure out where Vista hid the normal.dot template file for MS Word and was unable to find it, had to also allow to show hidden and system files. This is not my computer, but I know the main user and she's not going to be deleting random system files (I hope)
Good luck anyway
Unbelievable !. It's just taken me HOURS to read all these comments, and it's still SOooo much quicker than tryin' to find ANYthing with this ridiculous Windows Vista Search !. I WAS looking for a solution to this problem, and somehow, between all the Intense Profanities I've just thrown at MicroShaft (Via Google) I still managed to find this site. But now I just don't care where my soddin' files are. All I want to find is 1).A reasonable sized WMD, and 2).Coordinates for MicroShaft HQ !!... Give me those two things young Dave, and possibly a Big Red Button to get things started, then I'll be only too pleased to buy you a cup of coffee at StarBucks !..
Amazing. Since March 24, 2007 people have been constantly complaining about Vista's search function and the insanity of this article. it seems Dave Taylor, the author, makes a post ever 6 months or so saying he is going to update the article, but never does. (ctrl+f for Dave Taylor at least that search still works).
This might be the most laughs I've seen on the interwebs for a long time. It did wonders to easy my frustration that is Vista's search.
Best advice i've seen so far is to open any folder and use the search box. better than clicking the start button.
Thanks for explaining Dave, but I think the opposite is true, what used to be a simple search by file size in XP has turned into a nightmare in Vista, many things that were simple and easy to find in XP are a nightmare in VISTA.
I think you are all being really unfair on both Dave "Im gonna update this article" and Microsl*t by implying that there may be some problems with the vista search facility. You've all taken everything out of context because the search facility DOES NOT WORK - AT ALL!!! It's like saying I'm having trouble harvesting my million acres of wheat with this little butter knife. The fact is, ever since the good ol days of Windows File Manager when you could look at 2 drives at once and simply move files (younger users - believe me, such a creation once existed) MS has been hell-bent on trying to get everyone's minds to follow the warped logic of their unwashed developers. We then slavishly fork out the dough to do all their debugging and solution finding for their full price undercooked offerings. Question did the word "workaround" exist before Microsl*t? BTW is anyone game to talk about - "the ribbon" ??????????
Alright, alright, the reason I never updated this article is that I'm now using Windows 7 and haven't looked back. If you're running Vista I strongly encourage you to upgrade as in my eyes, at least, Windows 7 is really "Vista fixed", because we all know that Vista had a pile of hiccups, glitches, and quirks that kept it from being a stable, useful OS with *cough* a functional search capability.
Dave, even your excuse for not answering fails to address the question - upgrading to Win7 does not appear to fix the problem. The number of Windows users out there must run into the billions, and they have the right to backwards compatibility if they upgrade - that is what the word 'upgrade' means, because in my book Vista should never have been sold on those terms, but as a different OS designed uniquely for media, internet and gaming usage, but not for business or home use. As Windows has given up backwards compatibility (other than from one heap of money-wasting ordure to another), there's no reason to stick with it. When one adds in their failure to support older systems forcing you to upgrade, bye-bye MS. My next upgrade will therefore be a big one to Linux.
To generalise MS' faults, they have redefined user-friendliness into dumbing down. A whole string of problems follows: security turned into a nightmare, where you no longer own your own machine or anything on it (I've had a clean machine wiped by Vista). They've replaced the configurable menu with an unmanageable ribbon, which may suit those with low IQs, but neither suits experienced users nor those with average or higher IQs. Add that to their arrogance and track record of serious design faults, then I can only conclude that this is not a supplier with long-term credibility. As one of the tail end of the first generation of computer programmers, I started in the OS ethos and it is there I will end.
my problem is my Windows Vista Home Premium SP2 is not able to search within RAR or ZIP files...I search for a word within it and either 1) doesn't find it or 2) finds it, display the archive where the word is but doesn't show the file the word has in it......I'm going crazy.
I clicked on the screen the box to search within archives, but to avail..
HELP PLEASE!!! This is basics, man!
I never realized until now just how much garbage Microsoft puts out, really. This is the last version I'm going to deal with at home.
Anyway, if you want to go old-school, just click on Start, Run/Search (depending on your interface view and type cmd. Assuming your file is on the C drive, type:
or using filename wildcards:
It'll be a bit slower, but it will find the file and tell you precisely which folder it can be found.
I tried Windows Vista search to find files that have been created after a certain date- nothing found,despite I had clearly some new files. I hope they will fix this revert back to some old Microsoft search functionality. This is so frustrating - my laptop was Trojan infected and I was trying to find out files that were created beyond certain date. No use search could not find anything,even though I had created several my own files. I just wish I can revert some older versions of window where search was flawless..
Dave - I take it that you now concur that the Vista search doesn't work. However, Windows 7 is still a pretty inadequate solution. I have this system on my work computer and the search facility (which happens to work, just) is still woefully inadequate. The user is presented simply with the little search box in the top RH corner with no clue as to what to type into it. If you click in the box it appears you can add search functionality of "Date Modified" and "Size". If you happen to be using it when in the Libraries folder (this is clearly how MS imagines everyone will now work - how wrong can they be!!!) you are additionally offered "Type" and "Name" - Whoopee. Thank goodness for delightful little programmes like Agent Ransack. Do MS ever ask users what they want??
Vista sucks and it's file search engine does too.
Oh my god. I just queried for all files created today (created:today), and when I went to change the columns to sort on different attributes, the UI had to redo the entire search.... Not to mention I can't sort anything until the search is done. What a load of s h it. I am in safe mode trying to hunt down the origin of a piece of malware. Thanks for not helping Vista Business.
The best this page (sorry dave) or MS could do (on their other pages) is say, "use the start--"search" function!" - Well we are one of the millions upon millions that do not have the 'search' function on our 'start' section. (under 'games' it just goes to 'recent items').
We know nothing about computers really, but we or even monkeys could have done a better job making an o.s. with common sense. switching to apple.
their pieces don't expire and everything works.
In case no one has mentioned it yet (no, sorry, I haven't read all 2 miles of responses), the way to search for a file which includes a certain piece of text is to go to the search bar (upper right hand corner of a folder window) and type the exact text you want in quotes or in parenthesis. "text" searches for the word text, and (text1 text2) searches for either text1 or text2. It searches the folder and all folders beneath. It really is easy. Just damn near impossible to find.
I have to agree with most of the negative comments that are here. I was in a directory looking for a file that was likely in a subdirectory, when I couldnt find it manually.
I would normally just do a right hand click and select search........... but no more....... lots of extra steps to find what I was looking for...
I can't figure out how to search for a file by name. I have a file that I put on the disk, and I can't get any search to "find" it. This isn't simpler or better. I don't konw what they were thinking, but once again, MS shoots me in the foot.
Sorry but it's rubbish, its not intuitative, and its functionality appears dubious. I would not hire you as a software tester or actually anything apart from possibly a marketing stooge.
XP search worked very well. The Microsoft engineers got paid to mess up something that wasn't broken just for the sake of selling a new OS that feels different. XP was better. Maybe that's why it lasted so long and Windows 8 is already being prepared a year after Windows 7.
Having just "upgraded" Vista-64 from XP, I found that Vista file search is useless. I have tried both the Start menu search and the search box in the upper right in the Computer window. Agent Ransack is a great solution, and it also has the capability to search for text within files like WinGrep. For me, a further improvement is to switch to the Classic Start menu. Then Agent Ransack can be accessed from Start>Search.
Dave Taylor's instructions are fine, and yes, even tho' hidden, those options are present. But they still don't work intuitively at all and often lead to inconsistent results. For some reason,telling Vista to include the non-indexed, hidden and system files has resulted in it showing ONLY those 2 of 3 times. I probably have some other setting wrong, but it isn't obvious; another problem with Vista search. Basically, this is just as bad as the rest of Vista.
Windows 7 is a total nightmare. What used to be easily found in XP is now gone forever. Things I opened two minutes ago can't be found! What used to be my lifesaver: start, documents and your most recent 10 or so folders would display regardless of which drive it was on, now is a totally useless waste of space. I bought this new computer thinking that we were finally past the nightmares, but no, we're not. Also, have the XP virtual drive, but unfortunately, it's useless, too.
To make it work like I want, I go to Windows Explorer/Tools/Folder Options/Search tab. Then I select "Always Search file names only" (if I want to look inside files I will come here again and change it for that search.) Then I check "Include subfolders..." "Find partial Matches" and most importantlyly "Don't use the Index when searching the file system..."
FINALLY, I have search that is useful on Vista.
Vista search is worthless! It can't file a file when told where to look for it. Example: Look for file named "a" in folder "b". Did you find what you were looking for? HAHAHAHAHA NO
Windows Vista search is easier?
What planet are you on?
Vista does not have a functioning search engine. It is simply not possible to EVER trust the results you get because you never know where the search engine is looking and where it is not --- nor do you know what sorts of files it is looking in if you are doing a search for text contained in a file for instance.
There is NEVER ANY EXCUSE for typing in the exact name of the file you want to find and the search engine being unable to find it when it is present on your computer. The fact I even have to point this out is infuriating beyond belief. Literally billions on man hours have been wasted trying to work around Vista's failed search feature. If you totaled all of these hours up it would be the equivalent of killing hundreds of thousands or even millions of people due to Microsoft's arrogance and stupidity. These people will never get those hours restored to their lives and it was all easily preventable.
IMO the negligence here is every bit as bad as a car company putting a car on the road without tightening the bolts on the wheels properly. The only difference is if you die in a car wreck there is a chance you will go to heaven. With the Vista search feature every minute is spent in a living hell.
XP had the best file search abilities. The interface was simple.
Really searching for stuff using an asterix* is all you need, and specifying the root directory of the search
can i ask .. why does other function of my win.vitsa laptop does not work in win. XP?
If you think Vista is bad with its file search, 7 is much worse. At least with Vista I could still access the traditional file tree and manually search. Windows 7 has completely eliminated that option, or at least hidden it when I can no longer find it. They took a perfectly good user friendly format and turned it into a freakish nightmare. And I have no clue why they tied the file search system it into the web browser. I don't want to type in a file location and get an internet search result. After I called customer service with a MS office product key issue and couldn't understand the Indians, I finally made up my mind, wiped Windows out, and installed Linux Ubuntu. It's painfully obvious Microsoft no longer cares to provide its consumers with quality customer service. The only regret I have is not trying Linux sooner. No more antivirus to slow my system down and extort money from me, no more goofy, useless user interface that combines the file and internet search engine, no more viruses, no more crashes, no more sluggish performance, and finally no more having to deal with customer service reps that barely speak English.
Other than being able to find a file, another good thing about Linux Ubuntu is that I am no longer irritated by the sound of my hard drive continually straining. zzzzzzz ggrrrrrrr zzzzzzzzz glick, glick, glick --ggggzzzz grrrrrr zzzz zzzzzzz grrrrrrr zzzzzz. At least my hard drive is now happy and I now only hear the whirling of my cooling fan.
YES! Agent Ransack free download works perfect! Microsoft BLOWS. Vista search is USELESS, raises my blood pressure every time I try, and is a complete waist of time!@!!!!!
A better search? This seaech absolutely sucks - it is dumbed down, you cannot specify file type nor the contents of the file. The NT/XP search was the best part of those OSs and Microsoft toally hobbled the search in Vista and ist it still crappy in Windows &. A Huge disapointment, still.
In XP you could search:
Larger than 1MB
Created/modified/accessed during a specific date range.
I could specify files only or only folders, user partial names or search a group of types such as *.html, *.jsp, *.txt
The current search is for the Apple crowd that us a PC for listening to music and watching you tube videos.
For the intelligent folks who actually work on a computer the Vista/Win7 seacrh is about 10 steps backwards.
I don't usually register at sites to post just one comment but I did this time because Vista is just so bad, and search in particular, that I had to add my voice to the multitude that are saying Vista sucks....and you, too, Microsoft.
Forget searching using vista utilities. Just download agent ransack and use it
You say "What use to be a nightmare is now easy"
I've been using Windows since v2.0. It's Vista search that is the nightmare. It's almost useless!!!
I gave up years ago even trying to search for things in Vista. It simply sucks. If I've lost something it's bon voyage baby! I lose.
I never ever write on such forums but today I have to. I have just wasted one hour of my life thanks to the useless Vista search tool. How could they come up with something so bad? Is it a joke?
Well, Microsoft search hasn't gotten any better with W7. I try it in outlook, can't find squat. Try it in Visual Studio, can't find squat. I opened up a new MSVC web project, was looking for Application_Start. Doesn't find it. Later I find it myself after googling for it on the web. Outlook-- I look for text in messages that I can plainly see are there, it returns no matches. This is absolutely the most brain-dead thing I've ever seen. Unbelieveably bad, completely useless.
I performed the searches commenter’s said didn’t work for them and received so many results that Windows advised me to be more specific to narrow down the results. I have an engineering background though so researching is a significant percentage of what we do. I have received much better results with the windows search utility than I have with say, Copernicus and others. Copernicus is supposedly so great but I found it to be one of the dumbest of all. ‘Everything’ is a good one. I love Google but it’s desktop engine is really stupid.
Wow, there are strong opinions on searching! Let me throw my fav into the ring ... I use FileSearchEX because it looks and acts very similar to Windows XP search for Windows 7.
Files are difficult to find for a reason. It is microsofts intention to take as much control form the user as possible, so they and the RIAA and the government can spy or sell us the sky eventually. It is a marketing strategy. They do not want you to find every file on your computer because it risk you stealing their proprietary content, so they have made it difficult. Their developers have nothing but contempt for the user who needs a decent file system and search to work efficiently.
"...what used to be a nightmare..."?! You've GOT to be kidding! Pissta is the absolute worst. Looking for tax forms filed from previous years, I searched for "1040", which would presumably return any 1040 document including instructions, 1040EZ, 1040A, and 1040. Pissta tells me I have NO documents on my computer that match my search criteria. Turns out, a search for "1040f" would have worked. This is supposed to be better?! Hmmm... askdavetaylor.com becomes a site whose information CANNOT be trusted.
Ditto on the general opinion that Vista and Windows 7 searching is incredibly lame. It is designed based on the assumption that the user does not know what a file is, and pretty much only uses a computer to manage media files, Office documents and email.
Unfortunately for moderately skilled users (i.e. those who know what a file is) the interface is very clumsy. If I want to search for a file by name, for example, anywhere within a directory (yeah, I still call them "directories" instead of "folders"), I should be able to do so trivially.
Why not design search functionality to be good for both beginners and advanced users?
Perhaps I'm old school, but I like to have control over my computer.
Hey Fixitman, thanks for the link to Agent Ransack. I't nice to have an alternative.
Mind boggling that four years later Microsoft still can't or won't fix there search tool. Are they completely oblivious? Of the millions of Microsoft users, all but one user (Dave) are completely disgusted with the search functionality, do they have any awareness of user opinion?
Is this a general property of large corporations with rigid hierarchical structures that the decision making body simply doesn't have enough surface area to be aware of user opinion? For example, Google used to be aware of user opinion before the recent management reorganization, and now they too are becoming more like Microsoft.
As an IT professional working for over 25 years most of the time in cutting edge technology and breaking new IT ground this has to be the biggest failure I've ever seen. It's not a matter of functionality, which I greatly question as "better" it's a matter of interface and communication. The utter arogance to change the interface so dramatically; the stupidity to not properly test it; and the removal of functionality that is systemic to primary usage is nothing short of a disaster.
I have never used the windows search "facility"
Why ? I use the command shell which I have on my desktop, and which should be on EVERYONE's desktop.
Here are examples of how to list directories and to find strings with the command shell :-
>dir [/a:sh] //list non hidden contents of current dir. The option lists hidden/system files
>dir /s //as above but include subdirectories below the current dir
>dir /? //dir "help"
And to use the "pipe" (look it up. It's the bottom left key on the keyboard) to pass the output of one command to another
command (like find)
>dir /s | find [/i] "qwerty" //finds all nonhidden files & subfiles containing the string qwerty
>dir /s *.exe | find "26/03/2012" //finds all files & subfiles modified on the 26/3/2012 (in the UK!)
(useful to find an exploit you have just been infected with - but repeat the search with the /a:sh option)
>dir /s /a:sh | find "26/03/2012" | find "16:" //finds all hidden/system files in and below the currrent dir modified on
the 26 between 1600 and 1700 hrs.
>dir /s /a:sh | find "26/03/2012" | more //paginates output
The command window you install on your desktop should be cmd.exe, NOT command.exe (there are two) and it should be modified by
right clicking on its title bar
1. to change its colours to black text on a white background (and popup text to blue)
2. to invoke the quick edit and insert edit options
3. to change its screen buffer size to a (suggested) height of 4096 and width of 180 (option "layout")
With the above options text can be cut and pasted from and to the command window by right clicking.
To copy text from the command windows highlight the text and right click on it. This places it in the clipboard
from where it can be, for instance, be pasted by "ctrl c" into the explorer address bar. Within the command window text in the clipboard can be pasted by right clicking
The find command
find /? //lists find help
find /i "QwErty" //finds all examples of qwerty regardless of case in the files in the current dir
find has a deficiency (well it is MickeySoft) in that it will not search subdirectories
For this reason the windows version of "grep.exe" should be downloaded and placed in /system32/.
grep WILL search for strings in files in directories AND subdirectories
Oh - one other very useful feature of the command shell.
Softkey "shft 7" lists all the commands executed in the current session so you can quickly & easily select and repeat a command string already executed
"Softkey "shft 7" lists all the commands executed in the current session so you can quickly & easily select and repeat a command string already executed "
"Softkey F7 lists the commands executed in the current session so you can quickly & easily select and repeat a command string"
And an error
dir /s /a:sh does not find both hidden and system files. Hidden and system files must be searched for separately viz
Oh yes - don't expect dir /s filename to *always* find filename. Occasionally stuff is missed, this must be a consequence of Mickeysoft's flaky file index updating.
Microsoft has deliberately crippled SEARCH in VISTA and MS7 to prevent the user to access files and content (MS operating system, collusion with government for snooping via Patriot Act, copyrighted media files, etc). This is a deliberate strategy and there is no patch on the way, trust me. Microsoft wants to own your computer, even though you paid for it. The ridiculous amount of time it takes to do an imperfect search is to run through algorithms to determine whether or not you should be able or not to view a file and surreptitious communication via the internet if possible.
I found it. to search contents file, in Vista. (Excuse me: my english is poor, but I try to write, answer)
1. search a word
2. on the top of page , click on "search tools"
3. select "search option"
4. in the openend windows,
4.1. select "search" tab.
4.2. at the "what to search", select "Always search file names and contents (might be slow)"
5. now you can easily search in contents.
Example: I'd like to find text file with name "history"
5.1. write in the search pan:
5.2. (search contents) for search word "system" in the "*history*.txt" files
I do have a lot to say, and questions of my own for that matter, but first I'd like to say thank you, Dave, for all your helpful information by
buying you a cup of coffee!||
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