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I'm looking for a simple windows tool that is able to go over all the files in a tree of directories and perform a full text search on all the files.
I simply don't trust the Vista search because it seems to be picky on which files it opens and it doesn't match partial words.
Anyone got a good suggestion?

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closed as not a real question by Karan, Dave M, Breakthrough, Journeyman Geek, soandos May 31 '13 at 6:48

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Silly full text search? – arathorn Jul 21 '09 at 0:58
@arathorn: You might be surprised at what some people do with their computers. ;-D – Randolf Richardson Aug 23 '11 at 22:11
up vote 11 down vote accepted

I've used Agent Ransack for years and highly recommend it.

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Holy frijole, I can't believe I used windows without Agent Ransack for so many years. Thanks for this tip! – mtyson Nov 20 '12 at 21:08


findstr /s "foo" *
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I use the free, open source FAR Manager for this:

  FAR Manager

It's a native Windows application (32-bit and 64-bit versions are available) that uses text mode.

When you are using FAR Manager, use these keystrokes to get to the file searching feature after navigating to the desired path:

  1. Alt-F7 (to bring up the "Find File" dialogue)
  2. Fill in the desired criteria (text string, code page, plus some other options)
  3. Choose "Search Area" (defaults to current directory)
  4. Press "Enter" to start the search

Here's a screenshot: enter image description here

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If you're looking for a command-line program, try the built-in "findstr" command. It was recommended at

I use it as my "windows grep" command since I don't have to download or install anything.

Documentation and examples for "findstr" are available at

Use /s to search all sub-directories. Here's the official example from technet for your finding a string in all files in a directory and all sub-directories:

To search every file in the current directory and all subdirectories that contained the word Windows, regardless of the letter case, type the following:

findstr /s /i Windows *.*
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BareGrep does live, as you type search, and shows the context that matched. I've used AgentRansack too, but I really like the live search.

BareGrep screenshot

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This seems like a solid program that can accomplish what you're asking for.

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I believe Windows 7's explorer will do this with its search box, but if that doesn't work...


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I tried using Windows 7's built in search. However, it did not work in my case because I am searching non-standard text files. – Ryan R Apr 26 '11 at 17:31

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