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I've just installed Windows 7 64-bit and have found that it's file search really really sucks. What is a good alternative that I can load on my system to do file searching?

Note: I don't care about text searching in the file. I just want to search by filename.

EDIT: To sum up what is mostly in the comments:

  • Agent Ransack - Has a big bug in it, that's really limits its usefulness. Their fix doesn't work, and its been out there a few years.
  • Everything - Doesn't have very many options, and really sucks when trying to search in a specific path.
  • Fileseek - Now has a way to get around the recursive loop problem
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Agent Ransack is not as good a choice, when compared with Everything. – harrymc Nov 20 '10 at 18:48
Windows 7 search drives me nuts! Why are there LESS features than Windows XP? – Mas Aug 10 '11 at 7:23

19 Answers 19

up vote 11 down vote accepted


(Freeware by Binary Fortress Software)

FileSeek is a lightning fast, small and easy to use file searching application for Windows. It can even be integrated right into the Windows Explorer right-click menu to provide quick and easy access. FileSeek doesn’t use background indexing, so when FileSeek is closed your computer’s performance won’t be affected.

FileSeek works with 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 7.

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Wow, I'm in love, especially since with my SSD drives I don't want to run background indexing. I'll run it through its paces this next week. – Lance Roberts Jul 25 '11 at 15:16

Everything is what I use. Very fast and handy.

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It's a pity that it does not run on normal user accounts though. I would have liked to have used it on domain accounts, only searching through user files. – paradroid Nov 10 '10 at 14:54
pure awesome. Took about 45 seconds from download to usage. +50 rep for this. – Gordon Gustafson Nov 28 '10 at 2:46
@Crazy, Beware that I've now found that Everything does not let you choose the path you want to search, very frustrating when dealing with multiple drives, some networked. – Lance Roberts Dec 21 '10 at 17:32
Everything does let you choose the path you want to search. Read the doc. – harrymc Jul 26 '11 at 11:39
@barlop, thanks, it's time to give it another try, I still haven't been happy with anything yet. – Lance Roberts Oct 31 '12 at 0:45

Windows 7 search is actually not all that bad once you learn some key words.

Windows 7 search uses Advanced Query Syntax (more options described here)

It sounds like you want to do some very basic search functions. Here are some examples.

The following searches for files larger than 8 MB with a name containing the text "filename", having the extension .mp3 and having been modified on the 25th.

name:~~"filename" size:>8 MB ext:.mp3 datemodified:7/25/2011

The double tilde searches for any part in the search string containing your search term. It is like doing a search for "*someSearch*" using the wildcards below. If you don't use the double tilde, it will only search the beginning of words.

For example, doing a search for name:"file" or name:"ness" when the filename is "Aewsomeness Somefile.txt" would not show up unless you had the double tilde since those search terms are not at the beginning of words.

You can also use wild-cards like in the good old days (the single tilde lets you use the older style wildcards (? and *):


The "?" is a place holder for any one character. The "*" is a place holder for any number of any characters.

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Google desktop

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Well, I installed it, didn't get to really test out its search capabilities before it ticked me off because the close function in the menu for the sidebar didn't work. While I thought I'd love the sidebar, there are times that I would need to close it (and I really hate the work ethic of the lazy programmer who put the line in the menu but didn't make it work). – Lance Roberts Jul 25 '11 at 5:25
Some time ago, I used Google Desktop. It was way too heavy. If you use it, you will probably notice slowdown. – Mehper C. Palavuzlar Jul 25 '11 at 13:45
cd && dir /s /b *part.of.filename*
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I've always liked Agent Ransack, one of the best free file search utilities out there. You can search for file names or file contents and it has lots of other options such as boolean operators. It also comes in 32 or 64 bit.

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Here's the link to fix the Agent Ransack bug. – Lance Roberts Jan 6 '11 at 23:41

Since I've used Everything Search, I haven't cared where I save my files anymore. Everything even looks inside the Recycle Bin.

  • Regular expressions on filenames work.
  • You can search only specific paths by adding the path to the search string, e.g. "ctures\ *.jpg" for images in any user folder. The path cannot have wildcards though.
  • Its FAQ provides instructions on bypassing the UAC prompt. It's real unfortunate that ES hasn't updated in almost two years to add this scheduled task automatically or during setup. Well, just do this setup once and forget about it. Running it in startup is actually advised, because ES startup takes a few seconds in large file sets.
  • Just a tip: So ES won't slow the system down, if you have a background process that creates hundreds of temp files in a certain path, exclude that path.
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Hi @lance-roberts, in four years of using it, I've never tried right-click>Search Everything. I've always used a hotkey to open ES (no UAC prompt!) and I always type a "\" to restrict the search to paths. That drive letter behavior is indeed strange, so use "c:\", "c:\ *.jpg" or "c|d|e:\ *.jpg" instead. But Lance you gotta admit that you love ES's results-as-you-type, and that its background indexing is very lightweight and barely noticeable. I see that CrazyJugglerDrummer is convinced, so what else are you looking for? – William C Jul 25 '11 at 6:12

Not an answer to your direct question but:

You can search by file name in windows search using the special syntax 'filename: %query%' in the search box. Though its probably fair to say this is much less discoverable than it should be. See this post (microsoft forums).

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Then, find / -name "Name of file". I don't have much experience with Windows command line searching but the find utility ever fails me. Again, a batch/bash script file would make this an easy way to use a powerful search.

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FileSearchEX is the no nonsense file search utility for Windows 7. It offers the simplified search interface like Windows XP yet in an updated and modern fashion. Unlike other search tools, FileSearchEX works well with millions of items in the result pane.

  • Low system requirements.
  • Extremely simple search interface.
  • Portable application for easy network deployments.
  • Millions of search results can easily be navigated.
  • Users don't need to learn a new file search utility. XP style search.


FileSearchEX is free for personal use on a personal computer.

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I like this one too. They just updated it with some more features. – pcunite Aug 11 '11 at 21:34

You can try the search with command prompt. Very few people know about this.

Command Prompt Search

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I use Lookeen myself. It is an Outlook tool but can be used as a Windows Search solution as well. Unfortunately it is a bit expensive. But there I found a test demo. You should try it.

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Install Cygwin and do Unix-style searches with find, grep, et al.

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(Freeware by Janne Huttunen)

Locate32 is software which can be used to find files from your harddrives and other locations. It works like updatedb and locate commands in Unix based systems. In other words, it uses databases to store information about directory structures and uses these databases in searches. The use of these databases provides very fast searching speed. The software includes a dialog based application as well as console programs which can be used to both update and access databases. Supported operation systems are Windows 98/ME/NT4/2000/XP/Vista/7.

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(Freeware by

XSearch is a classic search tool with more features Windows Search does not provide. It works in classic way: no indexing service keeps scanning your files continuously in background.

It supports to search for files by file name, size, date time and words. Unlike in Windows Search, you can specify the exact size (Byte, KB, MB or GB), the exact date and/or time, and the different date time (Modified, Created, Last Visited).

You can specify the word or file name options such as "Any", "All", "Exact phrase", "Without" etc., and case sensitive, hexadecimal value, UTF8 and Unicode.

The HexView tool included in XSearch allows you to view files in hexadecimal, it acts like a read-only editor, and supports large files.

Supported OSes: Windows 2000/XP/Vista/2008/7

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A HexView tool sounds enticing. – Lance Roberts Jul 25 '11 at 15:17

I am a real fan of Windows "Classic search" from 2000/XP, so for me EaseXP's free XSearch utility fills that gap on my Windows 7 x64 PC. It has a nice explorer-like results pane where you can manipulate the found files (open/cut/copy/delete, etc). However, I've experienced capricious application faults with XSearch; when this happens I tend to fall back to Astrogrep, which despite its name, can do file name only searches, and has seen some active development this year. I'm also leaning towards using Nirsoft's SearchMyFiles, which has useful duplicates and non-duplicates search modes, as well as a standard search mode.

To expand on a previous CMD.EXE solution, you could put the following in your CMD.EXE startup script, if you have one. (the full path to your startup CMD script needs to be defined in HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Command Processor\AutoRun registry key).

doskey f=dir /s /b "$*"

Example usage:

f D:\installers\*.msi
f C:\Documents and Settings\win*
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Try a program I wrote a couple of years ago: SwiftSearch

It only works for an admin account, and only for NTFS.

Update: I just open-sourced it! (see updated link)

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FileSearchy is a quick, powerful and easy to use utility to search files on your computer. It provides real-time search by file name. Unlike other search tools with instant file search, it also allows searching by content string, date and size. FileSearchy supports many popular formats and highlights found text in file name and contents.

Free for personal use.

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