Find Any Word, In Any File, On Your PC. Fast.

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AstroGrepWindows has a built-in search facility. You can use the search box in Windows 10, for example, to search for a word or phrase in any of your files. However, the feature relies on an index that Windows builds when you first install the OS and which it continues to update all the time. Which can slow down your PC. So many people, myself included, elect to turn off file indexing within Windows.

If you want to do the same, open Explorer and right-click on the drive C icon. Choose Properties, and then untick the option for allowing the drive and its contents to be indexed. But be aware that choosing this option will require Windows to make a tiny change to the properties of every file on your computer, so you won't be able to do anything else for a few minutes while this takes place.

With indexing disabled, you need a different way to search all your files. And if you don't use the search feature very often, then there's no point in maintaining an index. It's easier to use a program which will search every file for the word or phrase you're looking for, without needing to consult a huge index database.

My favourite tool for doing this is Astro Grep. It takes its name from Grep, the unix/linux program which does the same thing.

You'll find Astro Grep at http://astrogrep.sourceforge.net/download/ and it's a 0.8 MB download. It comes from a site which is rated as reputable by Web of Trust. Note that VirusTotal flags it as suspicious, but only from 1 of its 62 virus scanners, so I have no doubt that this is a false alarm and that the program is perfectly safe.

Once installed, just enter a folder to search, and a word or phrase to look for, then sit back for a few seconds as Astro Grep does its work. So if you remember writing a document but you don't know what name you saved the file under, Astro Grep will save the day every time. It really is an incredibly useful program to have around.

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I hae reevaluated Everything,and I now retract my previous criticism

Everything doesnt have to scan all your drives (including C drive) when it starts, if you dont want this function, which I found frustrating

If you look the Tools/Options dialog box, you can uncheck "Automatically include new fixed volumes", and uncheck "Automatically include new removable drives"
So in other words, you can tell Everything not to index and thrash all your existing drives when it starts !

As usual, the latest version of Everything 1.4.1.877 has a portable version

'Swiftsearch' and 'Everything' are very similar in function, allowing very rapid searches of files by their names, but neither allow searches for specific text within files

what about everything? https://www.voidtools.com/ this can really help you find everything in your computer. Indexes are built by the software using custom setttings. Very fast and accurate.

Before posting, tell your browser to search this page for "Everything." You'll find that it's already discussed extensively.

Had a look at Ransack Agent and Copernicus Desktop as recommended by users here. When you look at the company comparisons the free versions are severely limited as against the Pay For versions so, for me, unsuitable.

Astragrep not handling PDF is a big turnoff (thanks for the member mention)...zip files??

Anyway giving DocFetcher (again, thanks to the member mention) a try...note had to really work at (a) getting rid of an old Java ver - the Java removal tool couldn't kill it (b) getting it to fit with a fresh Java install...in the end had to use Revo uninstaller (free version Mr mod) on it's most aggressive setting to remove both Javas, Everywhere to spot and then erase an old Java directory that had survived then a reinstall of the latest Java. DocFetcher would open at last.

A word of caution - it would appear that any of these index based searchers need to build that index first so I'd say none will offer a flashing speed ALA Everything straight after install and unfair to expect that - Everything uses an existing index inbuilt in Windows NTFS as I understand.

As DocFetcher is still building I cannot comment further.

Try DocFetcher at http://docfetcher.sourceforge.net. This program is incredibly fast. DocFetcher requires that you create indexes for the folders you want to search in. For example, I have selected My Documents. Indexing takes a long time, but then any search with lightning speed.
Later updating of the index goes significantly faster.
Supported Document Formats:
Microsoft Office (doc, xls, ppt)
Microsoft Office 2007 and newer (docx, xlsx, pptx, docm, xlsm, pptm)
Microsoft Outlook (pst)
OpenOffice.org (odt, ods, odg, odp, ott, ots, otg, otp)
Portable Document Format (pdf)
EPUB (epub)
HTML (html, xhtml, ...)
TXT and other plain text formats (customizable)
Rich Text Format (rtf)
AbiWord (abw, abw.gz, zabw)
Microsoft Compiled HTML Help (chm)
MP3 Metadata (mp3)
FLAC Metadata (flac)
JPEG Exif Metadata (jpg, jpeg)
Microsoft Visio (vsd)
Scalable Vector Graphics (svg)

regards William Lie

As William Lie states, DocFetcher can index many file types, some of which Windows cannot, e.g. .epub, and some LibreOffice documents that Windows misses. To make Thunderbird messages searchable in DocFetcher, on the Tools | Options | Advanced | General tab, check "Allow Windows Search to search message". In DocFetcher, create indices for C:\Users\[user_name]\AppData\Roaming\Thunderbird\Profiles\[user_profile]\Mail and ...\ImapMail, and add extension wdseml as a plain text file.
The only complaint I have is that it requires a Java Runtime Engine (JRE), which poses additional maintenance and security issues... but the search engine is so good I installed a JRE anyway.

I have no affiliation to any program, and am happy to use whatever free search utility is most efficient

Like others I dont like Java, and so I avoided DocFetcher previously
Recently I had to install Java to use another software program, so I gave the portable DocFetcher a go after reading this article

DocFetcher indeed is a great program, if you want to index a relatively small folder
It easily and quiclky found PDFs containing the text "flower", but also had a number of nonsense results
(ie DocFetcher search results included some documents did not contain the text "flower" !)

Also, unfortunately, if you have a large drive with lots of archives in it (ie lots of ZIP files, or RAR files),
DocFetcher by default insists on scanning through all these RAR archives as well, when creating its index.
For my external 2TB drive, this scanning will take over 4 hours
That is, 4 hours of thrashing my external hard drive
And in fact, my RAR files actually have been extracted into document files, so I dont want to be scanning these RAR archives !

In comparison, Agent Ransack did not need to create an index of my 2TB external drive, and found all Word documents containing the text "Flower", in 4 minutes. Yes, 4 minutes. (No 4 hour scanning required)

Im sure DocFetcher works well, once the index is created
But DocFetcher would be better if there was an simple way to exclude the RAR archives from being searched, to reduce the thrashing of the hard drives during index creation

What is the SIMPLE way to exclude RAR archives from being scanned. I cant find a simple checkbox to stop RAR archives being included in the creation of the index

Hi Australia,
Re: "found all Word documents containing the text 'Flower', in 4 minutes."
Since Astro Grep was taking about an hour to search all the Word documents in my computer, I'm curious: how many Word documents do you have? And how many MB in total?
I have 2,000 Word documents, totalling about 130 MB.

@Australia, I agree that Agent Ransack is an excellent search utility, more like grep, allowing use of regular expressions! When I'm trying to search using multiple conditions, e.g. file size, date and contents, it's superb. For short, indexed, searches, though, DocFetcher is useful.

To reduce the time to build index, don't index the entire drive, just folders such as Documents and Mail. Second, to avoid searching inside RAR, TAR or other compressed files, simply add that mime type to the Exclude list for that folder, just as you can add another Plain text file type (e.g. wdseml or pas for email or Pascal source). This gives you the option of opening RAR files in one location and of ignoring them in another.

"to avoid searching inside RAR, TAR or other compressed files, simply add that mime type to the Exclude list for that folder,"

I couldnt find this option anywhere in the program, or in the preferences
Can you explain in simple steps where the Exclude list is located, and how to add RAR files to the Exclude list?

1. Open the DocFetcher GUI.
2. Right-click on Search Scope panel.
3. Select Create Index From and select a source (e.g. Folder).
4. The Indexing Queue dialog opens. The second panel down, File Extensions, has three lists: Plain text, Zip Archives and Exclude files. To add items to the Exclude list, use regular expressions... examples are shown, such as ".*\.class" to prevent indexing .class Java files.

The manual at http://docfetcher.sourceforge.net/en/index.html explains this and more... go directly to the authors for help, rather than relying on a DocFetcher noobie like myself.

Thats very helpful, thank you. Its not completely intuitive, but I will give it a go, and report back shortly. You may be a noobie, but anyone trying this program for the first time wont find these settings you describe, I certainly couldnt find them
I went to Preferences, and settings, and advanced settings, so the program could be a bit more user friendly. Thanks again

So when Robert says Astro Grep can find text in any file "in seconds," I found that hard to believe. How can a program read through every character of thousands of files, and finish the job "in seconds." Yes, I know computers work at speeds that are unimaginably fast, but not THAT fast.

I gave Astro Greb a break. Rather than telling it to search all the documents in my data folder, I told it just to search only files ending in .DOC or .DOCX, about 2,000 documents. It was time for me to go to bed after 35 minutes, and it was only at the 1,220 mark. Technically speaking, yes it did that "in seconds": 2,100 of them.
Actually, it would have taken longer--infinitely longer--if I wasn't doing something else on the computer while the search was happening. That's because four or five times during the search it popped up with the Word save dialog. (Why? I wondered that, too.) While it waited for a response, the search halted completely. When I cancelled the dialog box, it continued searching where it had left off. These popups were totally random, for no apparent reason.

Robert is down on indexed search programs because:
* "can slow down your PC." I never notice this on my PC. The indexing happens while the CPU is paused.
* "a huge index database" -- 700 MB is "huge"? Maybe it was back in the old days, but not with today's terabyte drives. That's less than 0.1% of the hard drive, in exchange for a tremendous increase in productivity.

Copernic Desktop Search, another indexed search program, is almost as good, and it's free. That's why TechSupportAlert.com gives it a high recommendation in the "Best Free Desktop Search Utility" category. I'd recommend Copernic to anyone, far above any of these programs which promise, "Just wait a sec; I'll find that for you in a jiffy."
[Commercial references removed as per site rules]

I agree with Bruce.

However, for indexed searches, which is really the only way to go for certain things, I love Copernic Desktop Search.

I'm not sure exactly what they changed, but the developers of Copernic recently changed something, so that the program is now all of a sudden able to easily index very large PDFs/DOCXs, which is something it choked on in the past. In the past, it was impossible to add files any bigger than 7 or 8 MB to your index, because clicking on one in the results pane brought everything to a halt. However, the other day I suddenly noticed that I could click on a result in a 100MB PDF, and it works now! This is extremely good news for me as a translator, because I now can use Copernic to index all manner of extremely large scanned/OCRd dictionaries in PDF form.
[Commercial references removed]

Michael

A few notes about AstroGrep
The supported file searches are for these file types:
HTML, Word documents, TXT, Java, JSP, ASP, JS, INC, SQL, BAS and several source code formats, including VB, CS, CPP, C, H or ASM.
A portable version is available

I did search for text within PDF files, and AstroGrep can't help me
I did the same search for text within PDF files, using Agent Ransack, and the results were obtained quickly

My preferred file search utilities - I use Windows 7 (and I have no affiliation to any of these programs)(all freeware of course):

1)Instantaneous search for file names
- SwiftSearch
- MasterSeeker
- Everything (older utility, and slower, so I dont use it)

2)Searching for text within files
- Agent Ransack

3)Analysing hard drive for what is taking up space (disk space analyser)
- WizTree - the fastest results, and very easy to understand layout
- Folder Size (also great, but slower)

I prefer Agent Ransack too for searching text in files.
You call 'Everything' slow???? Old maybe but it's very fast in my opinion. I use it all the time when searching for files on my system.

I have used 'Everything' since 2013, and I was a fan
But 'Everything' is slow, because it insists on scanning all the drives before allowing a search to be performed
For example, on my Windows 7 computer, when I start 'Everything'...
it spends 30 seconds scanning C drive, then 30 seconds scanning my D drive, then (finally) 30 seconds to scan my G drive (external drive, where all my data is !)

In comparison, when you start SwiftSearch, you can immediately start a search of any drive (eg C, D, or G drive alone), and SwiftSearch wont thrash the other drives unnecessarily, eg C drive
If you know how to stop Everything from scanning C drive everytime it starts, and just lets you scan one particular drive, let me know

Indeed, 'Everything' does this on my system too (altough it doesn't take 30 seconds) but that's because I close it every time I don't need it anymore. I think you can keep it running with low recources so that it will start searching the moment you type.
I don't know SwiftSearch but doesn't it run in the background too (with a service of some kind)? Probably the same strategy.

Agent Ransack is a good program for finding words in files,but version 2016 is quite a resource hog. It loads at about 6MB but when doing a search, it quickly climbed to over 700MB RAM and slowed down my Windows 7 Ultimate computer (right now I only have 2.9GB useable RAM) . But Agent Ransack searches within .zipfiles, a definite plus,when searching for data within restored cloud backups. https://www.mythicsoft.com/agentransack/download

For finding files it might be also worth looking into Wise JetSearch: http://www.wisecleaner.com/wise-jetsearch.html, which is very fast, but does not search in zipfiles. It also has a floatable widget that hides at the top of the screen for quick file name searches that can be set to run on start-up.

Would this app be similar to "Everything" which I use and find to be a great program for this job?

Everything is fantastic, for what it does. I use it every day.
Everything finds files ONLY by filename and foldername. Astro Grep can search for contents inside the file.

Thanks for this. Works similarly to Fileseek.

After trying it out more thoroughly, I think I'll stick to astrogrep. Thanks again!

I just hope they keep updating it.