I'm using Windows Vista's search index service to quickly launch programs by typing Super + name of program.

However I'm having a hard time trying to understand why certain files won't appear.

I want to launch pageant.exe located in C:\Program Files\Putty with this method but it doesn't show up in the results.

In the index search options I said I wanted to index the Start menu and C:\Program Files.

I've checked that .exe files are indeed indexed and they are. I've also tried to completely rebuild the index with no luck.

What am I doing wrong?


Have you tried rebuilding your index?

When should I rebuild my index?

Your index requires virtually no maintenance. However, if the index has problems finding files that you know should be located in an indexed location, you might need to rebuild the index. This can take a long time to complete, so avoid performing this step unless you have given the index enough time (several hours) to correct any problems first. To rebuild the index:

Open Indexing and Search Options by clicking the Start button , clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Maintenance, and then clicking Indexing Options.

Click Advanced, click the Index Settings tab, and then click Rebuild.

If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

  • Thanks but I've already tried to rebuild it twice... – kevin Feb 1 '10 at 14:58
  • Have you tried deleting all folders, rebuilding and re-adding them again? – Ivo Flipse Feb 1 '10 at 15:02
  • I'll try to do that. – kevin Feb 1 '10 at 15:05

The start menu search by default doesn't search your whole computer. You'll get results from your start menu (naturally), from the PATH environment variable (so it acts like the "Run" dialog box; though not for everything, somehow) and documents from your profile.

This has nothing to do with what the index contains, afaik. I'm getting results here for PuTTY and pageant. However, for things in the PATH to be found you have to write out the name completely. There will be no partial matching.

You can put a shortcut in the start menu to the programs you want to be found. That's what I usually do and it doesn't take ages to set up either. You only have to do it once per Windows installation anyway (less so if you back up yor profile), so that was a viable option for me.

  • What do you mean by "write out the name completely" ? If I type in "pageant.exe" in the search box (the full name) I get no results. – kevin Feb 1 '10 at 15:04
  • He means fullpath/pageant.exe – Ivo Flipse Feb 1 '10 at 15:06
  • I get it now C:\Program Files\Putty\pageant.exe is working. My search index has 0 files now and I'm still able to search the files you mentioned. This means that, as strange as it is, the indexing is not related at all with the start menu search box. Now how do I setup which files I want to appear ? The shorcut to Programs doesn't seems to work... – kevin Feb 1 '10 at 15:29
  • @Ivo: Actually not, pageant should suffice; though just page should return no results. Same with things like regedit. There seems to be something else going on, though, as I can get putty and pageant here, but not svn. – Joey Feb 1 '10 at 16:54

To answer my own question, I figured out how it was working :

Out of the box the search field in the start menu has it's own setting to only search within the files of the current user. Vista's indexing options has nothing to do with that,.

You can actually tweak it to work with Vista's search index service, you'll have to right click on the taskbar and select "Properties" -> "Start menu" -> "Customize" and scroll a bit to find the options you want.

That answers my initial question. I was never pleased by the speed of this search box and it doesn't seems to "learn" what programs you often launch that's why I chose to install Launchy which is way faster and smarter.

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