How to Fix Search in WinXP

by Al Beecy December 19, 2008
Something must happen to a company when it passes a certain size and when its survival is no longer tightly tied to its producing products that actually work. Have you ever tried to use Windows search to find files using the "a word or phrase in the file" option and had it come up empty even though you knew there were matching files? Of course you have.

I'm sure the reason it doesn't search all files by default is performance-related but, despite having spent the last two decades working in the software field, I honestly cannot imagine the series of conversations that must have taken place between sales, product management and engineering that led presumably intelligent people to the conclusion that an animated puppy would be more useful to the search process than, say, a checkbox along the lines of "search in all files".

Fortunately, there are several hacks that can fix this problem to varying degrees. The best is:

  1. Click Start, and then click Search (or point to Search, and then click For Files or Folders).
  2. Click Change preferences, and then click With Indexing Service (for faster local searches).
  3. Click Change Indexing Service Settings (Advanced). Note that you do not have to turn on the Index service.
  4. On the toolbar, click Show/Hide Console Tree.
  5. In the left pane, right-click Indexing Service on Local Machine, and then click Properties.
  6. On the Generation tab, click to select the Index files with unknown extensions check box, and then click OK.
  7. Close the Indexing Service console.
For more info on this see the following Microsoft article:
Using the "A word or phrase in the file" search criterion may not work

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Annoyance Avoidance

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January 23, 2009 #

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