Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Using Windows Search to find files

Windows Search, formerly Windows Desktop Search, has become an indispensable part of my computing experience. It's so convenient that I no longer bother organizing email; I use search to find whatever I'm looking for instead.

However, I've found Windows Search to be less than ideal when the goal is to search for files with a particular name (or pattern) as opposed to searching the contents of files. Since it searches content by default filename searches would yield so many results that wading through them to find the file was no longer convenient.

The former search mechanism, Search Companion, was slow but had built in support for searching file names instead of file contents.

Turns out you CAN do filename searches/globs by limiting the store ala:

store:file *.reg

will search for all filenames ending in the .reg extension (registry edit files).

A few other search qualifiers I'm finding useful are:

kind:email - when you only want to search through email (although this will also search emails saved to file).
from:"firstname lastname" - when you know who sent the message.
sent:last week - obvious from the qualifier.

By adding the platform SDK include directories to the list of indexed locations Windows Search becomes a great way to search through header files (e.g., WM_NC to search for certain window messages).

With the help of the store: qualifier I can finally bid Search Companion farewell.

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