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Is there any utility for Windows 8 that will basically do the same thing the old "Find" dialog in Explorer did?

Often times (many times a day) I need to find a particular file, and I don't know the name of it or where it is, but I can remember a phrase in it, and approximately when it was written, e.g., it has the phrase "Duckbilled Platypus" in it and was written sometime in the last week.

The Find Files functionality in Windows 8 is lame by comparison; I know there are probably geeky ways to jump through hoops and do it, but I don't want to have to write GREP expressions, I want something easy like the old functionality...

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closed as off-topic by Karan, fixer1234, Kevin Panko, Shekhar, Scott Jun 24 at 2:36

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Doesn't something like content:Duckbilled or content:"Duckbilled Platypus" work in Explorer's search box? – Karan Nov 28 '12 at 1:43
Yes, actually it does, but it works too good/casts too wide a net. I want to be able to limit it to certain file types, such as *.txt. I reckon all this can be done with this kind of "content:"<some val>" stuff, but I feel a slippery slope afoot filled with furlongs of nefarious and hard-to-remember switches and such. – B. Clay Shannon Nov 28 '12 at 23:51
*.txt content:Duckbilled will narrow it down for you then, but I have a much better suggestion for you below. – Karan Nov 29 '12 at 14:30

6 Answers 6

up vote 4 down vote accepted

AstroGrep is extremely powerful and allows the use of regular expressions, but can do simple keyword searching as well:


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  1. Open the Start Screen
  2. Type in indexing options
  3. Select Advanced ⇨ File Types
  4. Select Index Properties and File Contents instead of the default of Index Properties
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"Index Properties and File Contents" for which file type? All of them? – Karan Nov 28 '12 at 1:37
Didn't work, anyway - Windows key + "indexing options" gave "no such app" or whatever; Windows key + F + "indexing options" returned 203 files, but...? – B. Clay Shannon Nov 28 '12 at 23:53

If you launch the Windows 8 start menu and start typing it should search files on your system with you having to know the name or where it is. I believe this also searches applications that have search providers.

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Yes, having to know the name is the part I don't like, because I don't always know it; I want to be able to search for some phrase regardless of the name of the file. – B. Clay Shannon Nov 27 '12 at 1:35

While Google doesn't promote it anymore, you can still find download for Google Desktop. Just, ahem, google it. :-)

I used to use it quite a bit. It's excellent for searching by contents across all your data: files, email, internet, etc.

Kinda sad they don't support it anymore.

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As the old gent oftmals intoned in "Never Cry Wolf": Good idea! I'll see if it runs fine on Windows 8... – B. Clay Shannon Nov 28 '12 at 23:43
It seems all it does is a google search, not a hard drive search (on Windows 8) – B. Clay Shannon Nov 29 '12 at 2:08
It definitely searches the hard drive, click around through some of the options to see if you can enable it. You may have to tell it to index your hard drive. – Steven Nov 29 '12 at 17:49

You could try also:

Just my 2 cents, hope it could help.

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If you press the Windows+ F, just typing the word you are searching for will work.

It is the same as pressing Start and starting to type in Windows 7.

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The question explicitly says it dosen't work for him... – Journeyman Geek Nov 28 '12 at 0:32
In Windows 8.1 it doesn't really work for anyone. The integrated search in Windows is now quite worthless. It's a good thing there are many excellent 3rd party search utilties available. – Ville Jun 3 '14 at 22:05

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