I have a PHP website in a directory on Vista.

Many files in that directory have the word "output" in them. In Windows Explorer, I type "output" into the search box. It finds two files but does not find the others.

What do I have to do to make Vista's Explorer search accurate and reliable?

Currently I solve this by opening Eclipse and doing a global search which works great, it would just be nice if I could do this without the 20-second wait to open Eclipse every time.

alt text

Here are my search options; I've got everything turned on:

enter image description here

7 Answers 7


I have also searched far and wide for this. It seems the "include non-indexed" options still excludes certain file types (I have set up a similar test, and if I rename the file to .txt it works, rename back to .php and it can't find it). It seems the only way to get around that is to actually force vista to search that file type instructions here.

However for me prepping Vista for every extension I might want to search isn't a solution. I tend to use a free utility called agent ransack. It allows you to specify a folder, and will search for file contents, and considering its brute force mechanism, it is surprisingly fast.

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  • +1. After getting sick of trying to kick Windows XP's built-in search into some sort of useful shape some time ago I was writing my own search tool - then I was pointed to Agent Ransack and found it did everything I needed. Commented Feb 12, 2011 at 11:40

I use Notepad++ for that kind of searching. It's lighter to open than Eclipse and you have a nice output and many other options. Of course there are many other tools, but I like this one.


Find In Files


You might have to go to options for searching under control panel and enable it to search hidden files and folders?

  • in the screenshot above I've checked "include non-index, hidden, and system files" do you mean somewhere else? Commented Jul 16, 2009 at 22:18

Recently I found a really cool tool Everything by voidtools that does this very well.

It maintains an index of all your filenames (hidden, system, normal: everything).
It is super fast and has a very minimal but pragmatic user interface.
You can search it using parts of filenames, wildcards and even regular expressions.

Much better than all these "indexed search" resource hogs that don't show you the files you are really after.



May be you should check out a free utility named Locate32, which indexes only the filenames, dates, sizes, etc, not the file contents.

It works as the already mentioned Everything, but this one works on all kinds of drives, not only NTFS, and can be configured to also search the file contents (eg, you can tell him to search for files whose name start with "Report", are smaller than 20 MB, not in the "Archive" directory, and then, for files matching that, to search within the contents for the string "Needed now!")

I configured the Win+Shift+F key to bring its search dialog, and I haven't found a faster way to reach any directory or file.


go DOS !

open a cmd prompt and search using 'findstr'

C:\> findstr /I "$output" C:\data\*.php5

check out all the options doing findstr /?

You can even 'pipe' or 'redirect' the output

  • 3
    That's not DOS, fwiw. Commented Aug 21, 2011 at 16:56

Run powershell:

"Matches found in:`n"
Get-ChildItem "FolderPath" | Foreach {
  If((Get-Content "$_.Fullname" | Select-String "output")){

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