I've just installed Windows 7 64-bit and have found that it's file search really really sucks. What is a good alternative that I can load on my system to do file searching?

Note: I don't care about text searching in the file. I just want to search by filename.

EDIT: To sum up what is mostly in the comments:

  • Agent Ransack - Has a big bug in it, that's really limits its usefulness. Their fix doesn't work, and its been out there a few years.
  • Everything - Doesn't have very many options, and really sucks when trying to search in a specific path.
  • Fileseek - Now has a way to get around the recursive loop problem
  • 3
    Agent Ransack is not as good a choice, when compared with Everything.
    – harrymc
    Commented Nov 20, 2010 at 18:48
  • @harrymc, That was just the one I chose to use now (acceptance is an individual thing), BUT I figure on trying Everything later, and I'll change my Accept then. If you had specific details to edit into Mehper's answer that would be great. Commented Nov 20, 2010 at 19:37
  • Maybe consider using a more objective description instead of 'sucks' to make this a better question/answer for future users. why does windows search not fulfil your needs?
    – Hemi
    Commented Nov 25, 2010 at 1:56
  • @Jaips, it doesn't really work at all for finding files like the old XP search (which could also have been improved). The Windows 7 search was really made for text searching. Commented Nov 25, 2010 at 7:29
  • 2
    Windows 7 search drives me nuts! Why are there LESS features than Windows XP?
    – Mas
    Commented Aug 10, 2011 at 7:23

19 Answers 19



(Freeware by Binary Fortress Software)

FileSeek is a lightning fast, small and easy to use file searching application for Windows. It can even be integrated right into the Windows Explorer right-click menu to provide quick and easy access. FileSeek doesn’t use background indexing, so when FileSeek is closed your computer’s performance won’t be affected.

FileSeek works with 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 7.

  • 2
    Wow, I'm in love, especially since with my SSD drives I don't want to run background indexing. I'll run it through its paces this next week. Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 15:16
  • @Lance Roberts: Nice to know you like it. Please drop a few lines here about your upcoming experience. Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 16:11
  • While I'm still using this it has one bug where you can't use "C:" as the path (always returns no answers), you have to use "C:\", and even then you get a bunch of Error messages. It still works great if you know the next directory down and search from there. Commented Jul 31, 2011 at 21:27
  • This is nowhere near as fast as Everything. Everything is in an instant. and Everything does regex. I've just got Fileseek to search filenames only (you leave the query field blank and choose search type of match full string), It has taken 30 seconds so far to look for WMV files and hasn't found any yet. Everything finds a bunch within a second and with a regex wmv$ so flexible too.
    – barlop
    Commented Oct 30, 2012 at 23:50

Everything is what I use. Very fast and handy.

  • 2
    It's a pity that it does not run on normal user accounts though. I would have liked to have used it on domain accounts, only searching through user files.
    – paradroid
    Commented Nov 10, 2010 at 14:54
  • 1
    pure awesome. Took about 45 seconds from download to usage. +50 rep for this. Commented Nov 28, 2010 at 2:46
  • 4
    @Crazy, Beware that I've now found that Everything does not let you choose the path you want to search, very frustrating when dealing with multiple drives, some networked. Commented Dec 21, 2010 at 17:32
  • 2
    Everything does let you choose the path you want to search. Read the doc.
    – harrymc
    Commented Jul 26, 2011 at 11:39
  • 1
    @barlop, thanks, it's time to give it another try, I still haven't been happy with anything yet. Commented Oct 31, 2012 at 0:45

Windows 7 search is actually not all that bad once you learn some key words.

Windows 7 search uses Advanced Query Syntax (more options described here)

It sounds like you want to do some very basic search functions. Here are some examples.

The following searches for files larger than 8 MB with a name containing the text "filename", having the extension .mp3 and having been modified on the 25th.

name:~~"filename" size:>8 MB ext:.mp3 datemodified:7/25/2011

The double tilde searches for any part in the search string containing your search term. It is like doing a search for "*someSearch*" using the wildcards below. If you don't use the double tilde, it will only search the beginning of words.

For example, doing a search for name:"file" or name:"ness" when the filename is "Aewsomeness Somefile.txt" would not show up unless you had the double tilde since those search terms are not at the beginning of words.

You can also use wild-cards like in the good old days (the single tilde lets you use the older style wildcards (? and *):


The "?" is a place holder for any one character. The "*" is a place holder for any number of any characters.

  • Thanks for the info. I read through the AQS link you had, but it didn't explain what the tildes and double-tildes were for. Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 15:12
  • @Lance Roberts The second link (Using Advanced Query Syntax Programmatically) describes the double and single tilde under the "Query Operators" section. I updated my answer with more details on tilde and double tilde.
    – James T
    Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 19:17
  • a +1, The syntax becomes second nature once you get used to it, and built in solutions are always preferable. Commented Feb 11, 2012 at 9:42
  • I submitted an edit to fix the link to the Advanced Query Syntax reference. Use this now: msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa965711%28v=VS.85%29.aspx
    – 11101101b
    Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 21:30

Google desktop

  • 1
    Well, I installed it, didn't get to really test out its search capabilities before it ticked me off because the close function in the menu for the sidebar didn't work. While I thought I'd love the sidebar, there are times that I would need to close it (and I really hate the work ethic of the lazy programmer who put the line in the menu but didn't make it work). Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 5:25
  • 3
    Some time ago, I used Google Desktop. It was way too heavy. If you use it, you will probably notice slowdown. Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 13:45
  • Since it works during idle-time - slowdown is imperceptible... firewall and AV make more feasible affect )
    – stim
    Commented Jul 26, 2011 at 12:12
  • -1 [Google desktop has been discontinued ](googledesktop.blogspot.com) Commented Jan 1, 2012 at 7:23
  • Very funny )) Don't you think that it's been a long time since the answer was given?)
    – stim
    Commented Feb 1, 2012 at 23:56
cd where.to.start.searching && dir /s /b *part.of.filename*
  • yes, the good old Command Prompt - but if you want to search fast, then you should consider to place these in a .CMD file with search critieria as parameter Commented Jan 9, 2011 at 12:31

I've always liked Agent Ransack, one of the best free file search utilities out there. You can search for file names or file contents and it has lots of other options such as boolean operators. It also comes in 32 or 64 bit.

  • It also lets you save searches for future use.
    – Isxek
    Commented Nov 10, 2010 at 12:02
  • also known as filelocator lite mythicsoft.com/page.aspx?type=filelocatorlite&page=home Commented Nov 20, 2010 at 17:44
  • Agent Ransack has a lot of options, but one big bug (in Windows 7 64-bit). It does some kind of recursive loop search on the directories and returns 20 or 30 results instead of 1, with the paths just recursively becoming larger. Commented Dec 7, 2010 at 6:45
  • 2
    Here's the link to fix the Agent Ransack bug. Commented Jan 6, 2011 at 23:41
  • Agent Ransack is excellent. It will find any file that exists on the drive. If you don't search so often that you need indexing, or only search specified locations, use it. If kept open after a search, later searches are faster. But its big brother, the non-free FileLocatorPro, is a better choice if you want indexing. Then Windows indexing can be turned off.
    – Abraxas
    Commented Jul 24, 2011 at 22:35

Since I've used Everything Search, I haven't cared where I save my files anymore. Everything even looks inside the Recycle Bin.

  • Regular expressions on filenames work.
  • You can search only specific paths by adding the path to the search string, e.g. "ctures\ *.jpg" for images in any user folder. The path cannot have wildcards though.
  • Its FAQ provides instructions on bypassing the UAC prompt. It's real unfortunate that ES hasn't updated in almost two years to add this scheduled task automatically or during setup. Well, just do this setup once and forget about it. Running it in startup is actually advised, because ES startup takes a few seconds in large file sets.
  • Just a tip: So ES won't slow the system down, if you have a background process that creates hundreds of temp files in a certain path, exclude that path.
  • There are some nice features there, though the path stuff doesn't work well, in fact if you right-click on a drive and select Search Everything it comes up with the wrong syntax. What they really need is choices like Agent Ransack has in combination with their search capabilities. Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 2:10
  • 1
    Hi @lance-roberts, in four years of using it, I've never tried right-click>Search Everything. I've always used a hotkey to open ES (no UAC prompt!) and I always type a "\" to restrict the search to paths. That drive letter behavior is indeed strange, so use "c:\", "c:\ *.jpg" or "c|d|e:\ *.jpg" instead. But Lance you gotta admit that you love ES's results-as-you-type, and that its background indexing is very lightweight and barely noticeable. I see that CrazyJugglerDrummer is convinced, so what else are you looking for?
    – William C
    Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 6:12
  • Yeh, I do like their quick results. One disturbing thing I've seen is that when I don't get results, I left wondering if it's still thinking, there's no indication that I've noticed telling me of the Fail. I'll be exercising it more over this next week, and see how it goes. Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 6:16
  • The said hotkey is Win-G, by the way. In the said four years, I also tried Google Desktop, X1 and Copernic. I always end up back to ES. :)
    – William C
    Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 6:32

Not an answer to your direct question but:

You can search by file name in windows search using the special syntax 'filename: %query%' in the search box. Though its probably fair to say this is much less discoverable than it should be. See this post (microsoft forums).



Then, find / -name "Name of file". I don't have much experience with Windows command line searching but the find utility ever fails me. Again, a batch/bash script file would make this an easy way to use a powerful search.

  • I admin some Unix systems and have to use find a bit, though not enough that I always remember the funny syntax. Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 2:38
  • The good thing is you could write a small batch file with the command already in it. I admit that the syntax is a little tricky but this is a good path for you to explore and maybe learn. The utility is extremely powerful (you could even combine it with something like grep/egrep) and the time spent learning it would definitely save time searching down the road.
    – nopcorn
    Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 2:50
  • Yeh, I like batch files and try to use them when I can, I'll have to think about this one. Does Cygwin have diff in it also? Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 3:22
  • Yeah cygwin has GNU diff
    – nopcorn
    Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 11:02
  • You don't necessarily need Cygwin. Gnu find is also included in the GnuWin32 package (gnuwin32.sourceforge.net). But in any case, it might be a good idea to rename the exe to gfind.exe or similar, so it doesn't clash with the Windows find.exe (which is something like a lame grep)
    – mivk
    Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 20:18


FileSearchEX is the no nonsense file search utility for Windows 7. It offers the simplified search interface like Windows XP yet in an updated and modern fashion. Unlike other search tools, FileSearchEX works well with millions of items in the result pane.

  • Low system requirements.
  • Extremely simple search interface.
  • Portable application for easy network deployments.
  • Millions of search results can easily be navigated.
  • Users don't need to learn a new file search utility. XP style search.


FileSearchEX is free for personal use on a personal computer.

  • 1
    I like this one too. They just updated it with some more features.
    – pcunite
    Commented Aug 11, 2011 at 21:34

You can try the search with command prompt. Very few people know about this.

Command Prompt Search


I use Lookeen myself. It is an Outlook tool but can be used as a Windows Search solution as well. Unfortunately it is a bit expensive. But there I found a test demo. You should try it.


Super Find XT is another one.

  • I downloaded and installed this today, but to even change the filename (or path) you have to have the 'supporters' version, so I can't even test it. Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 2:21
  • There is also a startup bug (in Win7 64bit) where it's looking for some unknown drive. Commented Jul 28, 2011 at 3:18


(Freeware by Janne Huttunen)

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/7.



(Freeware by www.easexp.com)

XSearch is a classic search tool with more features Windows Search does not provide. It works in classic way: no indexing service keeps scanning your files continuously in background.

It supports to search for files by file name, size, date time and words. Unlike in Windows Search, you can specify the exact size (Byte, KB, MB or GB), the exact date and/or time, and the different date time (Modified, Created, Last Visited).

You can specify the word or file name options such as "Any", "All", "Exact phrase", "Without" etc., and case sensitive, hexadecimal value, UTF8 and Unicode.

The HexView tool included in XSearch allows you to view files in hexadecimal, it acts like a read-only editor, and supports large files.

Supported OSes: Windows 2000/XP/Vista/2008/7

  • 1
    A HexView tool sounds enticing. Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 15:17
  • 1
    Such a nice tool. All others don't work without admin rights... This should be the selected answer.
    – Quandary
    Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 12:54

Install Cygwin and do Unix-style searches with find, grep, et al.


I am a real fan of Windows "Classic search" from 2000/XP, so for me EaseXP's free XSearch utility fills that gap on my Windows 7 x64 PC. It has a nice explorer-like results pane where you can manipulate the found files (open/cut/copy/delete, etc). However, I've experienced capricious application faults with XSearch; when this happens I tend to fall back to Astrogrep, which despite its name, can do file name only searches, and has seen some active development this year. I'm also leaning towards using Nirsoft's SearchMyFiles, which has useful duplicates and non-duplicates search modes, as well as a standard search mode.

To expand on a previous CMD.EXE solution, you could put the following in your CMD.EXE startup script, if you have one. (the full path to your startup CMD script needs to be defined in HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Command Processor\AutoRun registry key).

doskey f=dir /s /b "$*"

Example usage:

f D:\installers\*.msi
f C:\Documents and Settings\win*

Try a program I wrote a couple of years ago: SwiftSearch

It only works for an admin account, and only for NTFS.

Update: I just open-sourced it! (see updated link)

  • Actually, I'm always running an admin account. Commented Jul 30, 2011 at 21:35


FileSearchy is a quick, powerful and easy to use utility to search files on your computer. It provides real-time search by file name. Unlike other search tools with instant file search, it also allows searching by content string, date and size. FileSearchy supports many popular formats and highlights found text in file name and contents.

Free for personal use.

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