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I found a good Visual Studio extension, Entrian Source Search, but it only searches one solution at a time, and only the solution you have open.

In other words, I need to open a solution in Visual Studio before I can query against it.

Is there a lightweight piece of software I can say "index this folder", like the root folder where I store all my projects, and control which files and/or folder patterns to index and which to not?

I know I have an indexer built into Windows 7, but I don't feel I have enough control over it. For instance, a simple query for a text gives me hits inside the Mercurial repositories and the bin directories, and that's not all that helpful.

Is there a program with an indexing engine more tailored to programmers, just not for a single solution/project at a time?

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I use a free program called TextCrawler for doing mass code searching/replacing. It lets you setup filters for file types so you can limit it to actual text code files.

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You're right that Entrian Source Search needs a solution to be open before it works, but other than that it does exactly what you're asking:

  • It can search any directories, not just those under your current solution
  • You can arbitrarily control which files and directories to index by specifying inclusion and exclusion rules (which wasn't true in 2011, but is true now)
  • It can share indexes across solutions, so you could have just one index that includes all your projects, and search that index regardless of which solution you have open. (You could then search just one project via a directory filter like dir:project_one.
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