back to article How are we going to search our hard disks now?

Regular readers will know my occasional whinges about the sad state of the market for email clients – these generate hundreds of emails and comments. But there is another product category that is looking decidedly shabby these days. It is one which every so often becomes fashionable for a few weeks, and then goes on to suffer …

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Solr?

Has no one adapted Solr to do a desktop search?

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Anonymous Coward

Yeah, first thing I thought of too

You could probably configure it and script it up over a weekend.

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Spotlight

Never found a problem with Spotlight in OS X.

Very fast when coming up with a response, and in day to day operation it doesn't slow your computer down by constantly indexing (I'm looking at you Windows Search for XP) due to low level kernal hooks.

I have a Win7 laptop too -- though waaay better than XP's woeful standard search, it's still not nearly as fast (or easy to organise) as Spotlight.

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Unhappy

Ah nuts

I've never really used Google Desktop, and it was never quite happy with Opera browser, which is my default. I'm sure it's fine and dandy in Chrome.

But my wife is really going to miss Google Desktop: she had to fight tooth and nail to keep it at work since she uses it on a daily basis. She's still on Win XP too, which is pretty rubbish for search. Outlook's search is still terrible too.

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Anonymous Coward

Ugggh

Been off work for a while, I'd forgotten about the abortion that is search in Outlook. Thanks for reminding me what I'm going to have to deal with when I get back (wishes it was the worst thing too)

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Happy

Cygwin and find/grep

works wonders for me.

(I don't like animated dogs, what a complete waste of CPU cycles that idea was).

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Tutorial?

Many people say Windows 7 search is not half bad but I suspect I am not giving it a fair go. Anyone recommend a tutorial?

I want the functionality to remain as near as possible to what I have now with Google Desktop on XP... type in "horcrux" and it will find any mention of horcrux either on local filestore or Outlook mail.

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Unhappy

"And they don't show information in context, which is vital."

^ This.

I've just tried a search on my Mac. I have some similar filenames e.g. filename_1, filename_2 etc but the Spotlight results are truncated so I only get a long list of identical-looking "filenam..."

Then I have these backed up onto an external hard drive, so I get a repeat of each of these with no indication (unless I hover over the result and wait for the tooltip to show) as to which one is where.

That isn't very helpful at all. At least (IIRC) Google Desktop showed the path of the results.

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Truncated?

Try clicking the "Show All" at the top of the list. That'll open a window where you can see the full name.

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Anonymous Coward

Thanks

Thanks, that helps.

Any idea on how to solve the 2nd issue of knowing where the files are? e.g. How to differentiate between my main folder and a backup folder?

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Paths

At the bottom of that Show All window is the file path for the highlighted item. You may have to hover over long folder names to see them fully.

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FAIL

WIndows 7 search in explorer is a waste of space

XP was better. 7 is rubbish with wildcards, no date ranges except "a long time ago" or "earlier this year". Stupid pile of ....

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Agent Ransack

I found this an excellent replacement for Windows's built-in search, it's not index based though, so it's not particularly fast, but it's way more flexible, searches any kind of file, and it's free.

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Silver badge

+1 for Agent Ransack

...also a special mention for Agent Ransack's bigger brother File Locator Pro. If you're just looking for a file, then Everything is hard to beat:

http://www.voidtools.com/

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FAIL

You don't know how to use Spotlight

Just click on "show all in finder" and you will see the full name of the file.

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I know the feeling...

I was quite happy with Microsoft's desktop search 4 on XP. I could get it scanning UNC paths and all was well.

Now having upgraded my hard drive to SSD and installed Win 7, I'm at a loss what to use for search. I've had to disable the built in Win 7 search for several reasons...

1) I can't find where it's buried the ability to add UNC paths

2) I can't find how to move the index to my D drive so it doesn't murder the SSD

3) Searching specific file extensions is a pain in the arse.

Basically they've tried to make it so user friendly, that doing slightly non-standard things is now very complicated... I'm sure the things I want to do can be done, and it would be great if someone could tell me how to relocate the index, but until then I guess I am just going to have to use my old XP machine running in VirtualBox (I won't go into the Virtual PC pain here) to find things!

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Flame

On the subject of search, and XP vs 7

On IE7 (which is not available on Windows 7) I can right click on one of the folders in my favourites bar, and choose the "search" option - this is not available on IE8 or IE9.

It would be really nice to have a utility that is a GUI for modifying the registration of file extensions - so that the inbuilt Windows XP search can search for text matches in files that have different extensions, such as .php, .html, .htm, rather than having to resort to registry edits to achieve it...

(and I do not mean "windows desktop search" - which in my experience is a Utility in Futility.)

I must admit, contextual search would be nice - but isn't that what folder structures are for?

;-)

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SearchBlox

Shame about Google desktop as it was actually quite good, but if you want a few more features use a lucene based search such as SearchBlox which I have found to be perfect for simple and complex searches across a multitude of filetypes. http://www.searchblox.com/

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Anonymous Coward

title

never had this problem... I organise my data into a folder structure that makes sense to me, why would I waste CPU time when I can remember instead?

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Meh

Why search?

I just have my system in a reasonably organised state and know where I put things. The only time I have a problem is with extremely badly written software that arbitrarily decides to poo all over the hard drive - such software is quickly removed.

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Spotlight — hmm

I don't like Spotlight deciding what files I want to include in my searches. I'd quite like to have my Library files - particularly things like my Firefox userchrome.css - come up in searches, but Spotlight stubbornly refuses to index it, even if I try to force it to include the target directories. A search engine that thinks it knows better than me where I want to look, and won't let me change that, ain't on to a winner.

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Anonymous Coward

Not a problem

@Matt K: "I don't like Spotlight deciding what files I want to include in my searches"

I've already answered this above, but this is only the default behaviour (for people who don't even know they have a Library folder). Just add a search criterion for "System files" "are included", and you're away. And *all* files are indexed - they results are returned like lightning.

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NirsoftSearchMyFiles

http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/search_my_files.html

Works for me, better than the nonsense Vista and 7 search.

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Agent ransack

Not too bad and still around. May be slow but works.

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Anonymous Coward

Everything!

Haven't people heard of Everything http://voidtools.com/

I personally prefer the awesomely powerful brute-force search in Dr. Opus it is can do stuff which most search tools can only dream of doing.

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Boffin

amazing that search is so borked

I need search to work on my local drives; I have thousands of source code files in multiple development languages and trying to find functions, tags, variables in source and related log files or other output files (XML, CSV and PDF etc) that contain key words is stupidly hard for something that should just work (and used to).

Windows 7 and built in search can help narrow files it knows about, but is amazingly slow; I can start a search for a keyword in an indexed location, and manually open a command window, grep and find the files I need faster than it can complete. WTF?

Google Desktop was even faster, but didn't give much in the way of narrowing selections (I didn't generally want email searched for instance). Sad but true - in 2011 we still have to resort to command line grep

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Alert

When my brains go fizzt...

...which is quite a lot now (age) a TRUSTED content indexer is valuable. (Just this last week I spent ages certain that I'd already written a particular routine ...) Copernic worked for me but I had to block its ability to talk to the internet. before it was acceptable. Now it looks as if it needs a re-install for some unknown reason.

By the way. Lots of people use non MS legacy apps. Older search programs are often useful in this respect. The moral of the story is do not uninstall older search engines until you're sure the newer version is aware of all your 15 years of archive.

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Free search engine

I snagged this freebie from CNet - UltraFileSearch. The interface is a tad clumsy, but it's a damned sight better than that POS in Win7.

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Holmes

Elementary -- Total Commander!

I gave up bothering with Windows' file management nontilities years ago. Couldn't now live without Total Commander. Costs about 32 euros but you can try it free for 30 days. TC is also regularly updated and -- thus far -- once you've paid for it, subsequent updates are free. Agree with the comments about using folders to sensibly differentiate files. But, if I'm looking for something within a file, TC is the answer. Why not give it a trial?

http://www.ghisler.com/index.htm

(I have no connection with Ghisler; just think that a good product deserves to be recommended.)

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Holmes

Nice spotlight frontend...

Hi,

A nice Replacement for Spotlight is "houdahspot" or "tembo".

And well,for some what larger needs, MS Windows Enterprise Search 2010 Express is still free.

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Thanks, Andrew Orlowski, you have made my day

Hey Andrew,

You put to words how I have been feeling all weekend since I learned that Google Desktop is being killed. There is no equivalent to this program, and the built-in search in Windows are brain dead compared to Google Desktop.

Can we petition Google to turn Google Desktop into a commercial product? Maybe if we all ofter to pay 50USD / 50GBP / 50EUR (depending on where we live), Google will decide to keep this "unprofitable" program in development.

Quite honestly, I was blown away by the quality of Google Desktop when it came out, and to this day I can't believe that Google has been giving it away for free.

/ Wm

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RIP Google Desktop

Or is it?

Its unlikely that they are just going to hit a kill switch and everyones google desktop will just stop working ... its still better than the competition.

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UltraFileSearch

I use UltraFileSearch and prefer it to the built-in search of Windows 7.

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Coat

Blinkx Pico

You may scoff, but Blinkx Pico worked brilliantly for me, especially for long, complex queries. Seems to have gone from the Blinkx website now - pity.

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Coat

KDE - Nepomuk/strigi, anyone?

Ok, so I'm feeling brave today.

I know it really sucked in earlier KDE 4.x versions, but ever since 4.6 (i think) it doesn't eat too many resources anymore, doesn't get in the way, searches tags, names, file content and what have you. And it's nicely integrated with dolphin, too.

For example, you can tag your photo's in digikam, but you can use the same tags for other stuff as well. So you can connect whatever you like, in whichever way you like, and you'll even be able to find it later.

Mine's the fireproof coat. Or at least I seriously hope so

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Why is this such a big issue?

I'm always amazed by how much searching people need to do. Why not just remember where you put things? It's much easier. For those times when you really can't remember, Spotlight seems to do the trick very nicely - I've never personally understood the great need for Spotlight replacement apps such as Caffeine but I know some people who swear by them.

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Anonymous Coward

The low quality of Windows search

The low quality of Windows desktop search seems to be a constant; they keep changing it but it doesn't get better.

I've been using "Locate 32" for a couple years now.

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This does files only, but the best job at it

http://fwd4.me/0Ang

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WTF?

no problems with SpotLight

i'm a very happy SSpotLight user on OSX - I agree about searching on WindowsXP/vista/7 being generally crap... and on BSD/Linux I'm quite happy with locate and find

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