Windows 10 isn’t all bad. For example, it introduced a number of helpful File Explorer tricks and lots of new features in the Task Manager, making it one of the most productive versions of Windows so far.
But some aspects still aren’t as good as they can be—like Windows Search. While there have always been some neat Windows Search tips and tricks, it has never been on par with the search features of Mac or Linux. And while Windows 10 did lessen the gap in a lot of ways, it’s still slow and imperfect.
If you find yourself constantly searching for files and folders throughout your system, you may be better off switching to one of these third-party tools instead. Windows Search is only good for basic and casual use.
Once that’s done, all you have to do is type anything into the text field and you will get instantaneous results as you type. And as long as you allow Everything to sit in the background and monitor system changes, it will always be instantaneous.
Lookeen does the same thing as Everything, but is a more full-featured solution. It can search for content beyond just file names and it does so with speed. The search window can also show previews of certain file types, even allowing you to edit text files directly.
Lookeen can also search external drives in addition to local ones, and there are a few filter options you can use to narrow down files further than with text queries only.
If you visit the Lookeen site, you’ll have a hard time finding the free version—but a free version does exist! This is not the same thing as the free 14-day trial for the business version.
Of all the software on this list, Listary is probably the most unique. Not only is it extremely minimal in design, but it stays completely out of your way until you need it. When you want to search, just start typing! It’s as easy as that.
And as you type, Listary will show a list of all files on your system that match the query in real-time. Listary can also execute commands like “Open Folder” and “Copy Folder Path”, and you can even use Listary to quickly hop into a different folder just by typing that folder’s name.
Some of its best features require Listary Pro, which is $20. But even with Listary Free, you get a lot of power and flexibility.
Back when I was a serious programmer, grepWin was one of the most useful tools I had at my disposal. With it, you can search through any directory tree and it will find files by matching contents with your search query (regular expression are supported).
AstroGrep is a great alternative to grepWin in case the latter doesn’t fit your fancy for whatever reasons. It does the same thing—finds files that match your search query by content rather than file name—but is slightly less advanced and easier to use.
You can designate which file types to search, view file contents within AstroGrep itself, and save or print results for later. Potential future features include searching through PDFs, MP3s, ZIPs, RARs, and more.
AstroGrep has been around since 2006 and continues to receive regular updates.
SearchMyFiles may seem helplessly primitive at first glance, but it’s deceptively flexible. Once you get over the slight learning curve, you’ll be able to put together complex search queries using filters and wildcards.
Copernic has been in the search industry since 1996, starting first as a web search engine but eventually becoming known for its spectacular desktop search application. In fact, it’s considered by many as the #1 desktop search tool in the world.
It comes in a free version and a commercial version. Unfortunately, the free version can’t search network drives, external drives, cloud storages, Outlook emails, Lotus notes, and has an index limit of 75,000 files. But for basic home usage, it’s more than enough.
Exselo Desktop isn’t as well-known as other desktop search options, which is a shame because it’s actually quite good. It supports powerful search queries, has a simple interface, securely share data, and even integrates with Outlook.
Not only can it search local drives, but Exselo can also comb through network and cloud stores. And best of all, the Free edition is feature complete. The only difference between Free and Enterprise is support for multiple users.
Duplicate & Same Files Searcher is a tiny portable program—less than 1MB in size—that finds all files that are identical by content (not by file name). As such, the scanning process can be a bit slow, but you can filter and set parameters to speed things up.
And not only can the program delete said duplicates, but it can replace them with “hard links” that are basically shortcuts to one single file, thus saving you space without breaking anything in the meanwhile.
10. Registry Finder
Registry Finder is a free tool that makes registry navigation easy. It also has the ability to search keys according to when they were last modified, meaning this tool comes in handy when you want to see all recent changes that were made (e.g. for troubleshooting).
What’s Your Preferred Windows Search Tool?
For better and faster search results, go ahead and pick one of the above tools. The built-in Windows search is getting better, but there’s still a long way to go before you can rely solely on it.
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