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Friday, September 29, 2006

XP Search Not Finding What You Need?

If you've already experienced XP's marvelous *ahem* built-in file search feature, you probably already know that it is flawed in many ways. Want to test it? Just create a file named geeks.ttt containing a few strings of test characters and try doing a context search (searching for text within a file) on your C drive for all files containing this text. So, did XP provide you with the expected result? Of course it didn't (unless you already applied the proper registry tweak).

The XP file search engine is flawed in two ways:


  • It fails to find text inside files with the "wrong" extensions.
  • It misreports finding the match if the file name has the matching text even if the file content does not.

Fortunately, there's an easy fix to the first point (and unfortunately, none for the second)

WARNING: If you use Registry Editor incorrectly, you may cause serious problems that may require you to reinstall your operating system. We cannot guarantee that you can solve problems that result from using Registry Editor incorrectly. Use Registry Editor at your own risk.

  • Go to Start->run, type "regedit" in the run box and click OK
  • Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SYSTEM \ CurrentControlSet \ Control \ ContentIndex
  • Create a dword value named "FilterFilesWithUnknownExtensions" (without quote) inside the ContentIndex key and assign an HEX value of 1 to it.

VoilĂ , that's it.

Now, try your search again.

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4 Comments:

  • Or you could use Google Desktop. ;)

    By Blogger Jono, at 12:06 PM  

  • i find that google desktop reduces your machine's performance by a ton! It's always indexing, and causes your hdd to thrash -- it's just not worth it for me..

    Here at work, in an environment where our developement teams build their products at their desktops, they need all the hdd speed they can get... and Dell, in their wisdom, install Google Desktop on all of their builds...

    I remove it the second the machines come in.

    By Blogger AlRo, at 12:54 PM  

  • And google desktop only does it locally..

    Never used it, I usually do just like Al.

    By Blogger Kiltak, at 1:12 PM  

  • Weird, I've never had any speed problems with GD. Works like a charm on several machines.

    Once it's finished the initial indexing it should be fine.

    By Blogger Jono, at 8:51 PM  

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