I'm looking for a lean and mean search solution program for Windows that does the following things:

  1. Non index searching (I'm still not convinced that disk indexing comes without a performance impact)
  2. Search for patterns in file names and content
  3. Gives progress on what's going on
  4. Has a decent explorer integration that lets me use the files found directly
  5. Is free

Total commander supports all this, but it's not free.

Technically all this is something that vistas search should do, but I constantly manage to do searches that fails to find the files I'm looking for even if they are there. I also find it hard to know whether the search is completed or if it's just showing what it has found so far.

  • Dupe? superuser.com/questions/8654/… – fretje Jul 23 '09 at 12:03
  • Actually that question inspired me to write this question. For me it was important to be explicit about searching file in contents and not using indexing. – Laserallan Jul 23 '09 at 12:16

Everything would meet most of the 5 criteria. But it doesn't do content just filenames, but the search is instant and the indexing is amazingly fast.

  • And only supports NTFS... – fretje Jul 23 '09 at 12:00
  • 1
    and only as admin. But if you're an administrator using ntfs it's fantastic. – Phoshi Nov 2 '09 at 21:54

Google Desktop does use indexing, but only starts indexing when your not using your computer for 30 seconds.

Plus I would believe Google knows how to search

Wikipedia on the indexing:

After initially installing Google Desktop, the software completes an indexing of all the files in the computer. And after the initial indexing is completed, the software continues to index files as needed. Users can start searching for files immediately after installing the program. After performing searches, results can also be returned in an Internet browser on the Google Desktop Home Page much like the results for Google Web searches.

Google Desktop can index several different types of data, including email, web browsing history from Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox, office documents in the OpenDocument and Microsoft Office formats, instant messenger transcripts from AOL, Google, MSN, Skype, Tencent QQ, and several multimedia file types. Additional file types can be indexed through the use of plug-ins.1 Google Desktop allows the user to control which types of data are indexed by the program.

One unfortunate aspect for users with large hard drives: Google Desktop only indexes 100,000 files per drive during the initial indexing period. If you have more than 100,000 files in a particular drive, Google Desktop won't index all of them during this initial period. However, Google Desktop adds files to your index during real-time indexing when you move or open them. [2]


grepWin (not wingrep) is exactly what I was looking for!


Cygwin, using combinations of find and grep (with some sed thrown in for good measure)

Or wingrep if the command line is not to your linking.

  • +1 for wingrep. It functionally seems to do exactly what I'm looking for however its user interface seems to be from the stone age :) – Laserallan Jul 23 '09 at 11:08
  • 1
    Cygwin just for find/grep? I would suggest UnxUtils instead. – user1686 Jul 23 '09 at 11:56
  • didn't know about wingrep. Just started it and I would agree, the UI is not something i like – Joakim Elofsson Jul 23 '09 at 11:57
  • Actually it adds a shell extension that's way more useful than the wizard style interface in the application. – Laserallan Jul 23 '09 at 14:12

I personally recommend the ultra minimalist approach of XFind. Works for XP, but unsure if this works for Vista?


Try the free version of Agent Ransack. It has a nice GUI, doesn't use an index and is still pretty fast. It can use regular expressions for the string to find and the files to find, and it shows a handy preview of each matching file.

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When extensive searching is required where the Windows Indexed searches would be typically recommended, I usually use locate32.exe.

But, I usually give in to a Cygwin, bash, find with sed, grep and sometimes AWK, to get a file.

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.

I suspect it is not meant to search inside file however.

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