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Windows Desktop Search

Windows Desktop Search

I’m sure you know the scenario: You are certain you sent an e-mail about that dinner appointment awhile back, but where is it now? Or you recall making out an agenda for the next club meeting, but can you find it? Not on your life!

Also, the longer you’ve had your computer, the more files you get and the harder it becomes to find what you are looking for, right?

Wouldn’t it be good if you could very quickly find those files or e-mails based on one or two words you have remembered? And wouldn’t it be nice to have a look at it before you open it to make sure it is the right one?

Admittedly, you do have a search function in Windows and Outlook, but they take forever to find what you are looking for and they come with no great degree of certainty!

Well, now you can find that file easily by the courtesy of our friends at Microsoft.

It’s called Windows Desktop Search and it’s 100 percent free! (Note: this program is for use in Windows XP only).

So, let’s see how easy it is to set up and use this searcher and how indispensable it will become.

First of all, pick up a copy of Windows Desktop Search from Microsoft’s download site right from here. (You may also have to go through the Microsoft validation process to ensure you have a genuine copy of Windows. See the picture below for help with this).

After downloading, click on the file and run through the setup process (see below).

When you’re done with that, you will find that you have a search window (number 1 in the picture below) and a magnifying glass icon (number 2 in the picture) at the bottom of your screen.

Before we can use this, we need to configure the program to suit our needs and requirements.

Right click on the icon (number 2 in the picture above) and select Windows Desktop Search Options.

This will produce the following screen, from which you should select Modify (1) so that we can select the drives and folders from which we want to be able to find our files, etc. Then this screen appears:

From here, you can select the folders you want the Desktop Search to include. For instance, you might have a folder you just use for downloaded files that you have no need to check out, so this need not be included.

If you want the whole drive to be included, click the drive letter and it’s done. On the other hand, if only selected folders are needed, then click on the folder so that a tick mark is placed in the box (see illustration above).

If for any reason the Desktop Search will not allow you to do this, you have not given permission for this drive to be indexed by Windows. Therefore, you need to go through the following procedure.

Go to My Computer and click on the drive you want to be included. Right click the mouse to produce the following menu, on which you should select Properties.

On the General tab of the next box, make sure you tick “Allow Indexing Service to index this disk for fast file searching.”

You will then be asked if you want to index the whole drive or just the highlighted folder. Select subfolder and files) and then click OK.

Now, we can go back to where we were. Finish selecting the folders we want to index. When completed, go back to this screen:

This time, select Advanced (2), which will give you a screen like this:

This is useful if you have some files with “unusual” extensions that you would like to be indexed. If you don’t, you can just ignore this step.

Make sure all the types of files you want indexed are ticked or rectify them if they’re not.

Finally, ensure the line Index Properties and File Contents is selected (see picture).

Now, we are ready to use the Windows Desktop Search (right click on magnifying glass icon and select Search Now).

Let’s have a look at what we can do here. Here is the bar at the top of the page:

At (1) or (2), we select whether the search is on the computer or the Internet.

At (3) to (8), we can select locations and types of files (for example, documents, e-mails, music, pictures and videos).

Clicking the arrow on (9) reveals this, where we can make specific choices:

So, enter the word or phase you want to search on (maybe a word or two you remember from the document or e-mail) and the type of file you think it is. (Just click Everything if you are not sure).

After searching through the files, the search will come up with something like this:

At the top is a list of the files containing your search term and at the bottom, a preview of the file so you can get an idea whether it is relevant or not.

Incidentally, if you prefer to have the preview box elsewhere, selecting View, Preview Pane will give you a few options for positioning.

If you double click on the file you have selected, it will load up in the application that produced it (for instance, Word, Excel, Outlook, etc).

So, no longer will you be frustrated with not being able to find that elusive document or e-mail. With Windows Desktop Search, courtesy of Microsoft, you will be able to find it quickly and get on with some productive work.


~ David Woodford