Saturday, April 16, 2011

Tool: Search Everything – A wonderful File management tool for Windows

A significant amount of the time that we spend on our computers is around storing and retrieving files. As the amount of content grows, we as users tend to create complex folder structures and soon we get overwhelmed by the situation of not being able to retrieve the file we want quickly and many times not being able to retrieve the files at all!

The solutions that exist today in the form of desktop search engines from google, yahoo et al provide a deep capabilities on retrieving files based on content based text search. While there are great options, they come at a hefty cost of heavy indexing that consumes CPU storage and memory, making the machine slow many time unresponsive. Additionally these solutions seem an overkill as more than 80% of the time we are looking for files just based on their names and not their content.

Some time back i found a tool that just fits the above criteria of finding files fast without the burden of a typical Desktop search engine.

The tool called “search everything” from voidtools provides path and name based file management with a simple interface and provides explorer features to complement its search so that we as a user don’t feel the loss of some powerful explorer features.

It has helped me reduce time and effort drastically that i rarely use windows explorer additionally i occasionally amaze audience with the speed that i retrieve files during presentations and discussions.


Here are some salient points of Search everything

  1. its download footprint is ~ 500KB
  2. it works on the ntfs index and therefore is instantaneous on its index and file retrieval, if the disk drive knows, search everything knows
    1. a typical 500GB drives gets indexed in under a min. and remains instantaneous as changes are made.
  3. it provides both path, name and full name search
  4. its search provides regular expressions to do advanced search as described below
  5. it allows sort on every column that gets listed
  6. it provides all windows explorer commands on its outcome result + some additional features for the user
    1. regular, drag drop files into other applications as attachments
    2. all explorer commands on right click
    3. provides full name path as an option on right click, which is extremely useful in attaching files in some web services like gmail, etc..
  7. some limitations of the tool are
    1. only indexes ntfs drives for fat32 is out of bounds. would suggest a first time user to reformat USD flash drives and external HDD to NTFS to get maximum returns from
    2. based on file name search, so needs some discipline in file naming to get more purchase out of the tool.
    3. does not search file properties as that forms internal content of the file, this includes create date, modified date, file size etc.. such filters cant be applied

Some tips while using search Everything  that i follow to extract maximum juice out of this utility

  1. file naming becomes critical, so i add as much tags into the file  names while storing files including
    1. date of the file in ddmmyyyy
    2. context tags like person who sent it, the company, organization
    3. type of the file like whitepaper or report etc…
    4. a typical file name in my system would now be structured as below
      1. Infrastructure Sense Response viramdas black 201102 ssnet.ppt
  2. Using Advanced search to retrieve files better [voidtools provides a complete guide check that out, there is also a F1, chm help file ] from Everything
    1. ! is a an expression to exclude, this way some drives could be regularly excluded like C: in my case where only system files reside [!c:
    2. | can be used for OR search exp when looking for multiple doc extensions like ppt, pptx, doc, docx
      1. *.ppt* | *.doc* would be the search term
    3. Everything provides search options like whole word search and fullname search and case matched search, use based on the context

I have gained significant benefit from this tool and like the attitude of its author to provide it free with only expectation of a donation if the user finds it useful. I now consider this as a top 5 should have for all windows users, and after about 2 years  of use i have made the donation to the author.

This should be a standard feature on all enterprise image and i am surprised why microsoft have not done this as a core feature! Hope you will download and enjoy the tool and pass it on..


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