Updates To My Favourite Text Finder

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Astro Grep text search toolSince I first wrote in this column about Astro Grep a few months ago, there has been a series of updates to the program. So whether you're already a user of this excellent utility, or you have yet to discover it, it's worth knowing about the latest release.

Astro Grep is a program which scans some, or all, of your hard disk to search for a specific word or phrase. It searches the full content of files, rather than just the filenames. And it doesn't need to build an index, which saves on hard disk space usage. While the lack of an index means that Astro Grep isn't as fast as the built-in Windows search, it's much easier to use. And more powerful.

Astro Grep is incredibly useful if you need to track down a sentence which you remember writing in a particular document, but you can't quite remember where that file is saved. Or, for example, if you need to track down all of the documents which contain a reference to a particular person.

Astro Grep is free, runs on all recent versions of Windows, and is less than 1 MB to download. The program is malware-free according to VirusTotal and Web of Trust. You'll find the download at http://astrogrep.sourceforge.net/ - just click on the download link at the top of the page and wait a few seconds for it to start.

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Comments

Its utility for me is reduced to zero by the fact that it doesn't do Boolean searches (e.g., this AND that, this OR that, etc.), so it's limited to either single word searches or you must type in exactly what you're looking for. Adding or omitting a comma, for example, will totally negate the search. I use DocFetcher for searches like this.

Rob,
Great find... but what's the problem with search tools which index the hard drive contents? You mention "saves on hard disk space usage" -- surely in the age of TB hard drives, that's not an issue. The benefit of indexed contents is that searches are instant. Really: the answer is there before I even finish typing the search!

How does this compare to Agent Ransack? I've been using that for a good while and it does what I need, though I only use a fraction of its functionality. Would this be better for simple text searches in groups of files?

Using the regex below I did a comparison of AstroGrep and Agent Ransack against the same folder tree / number of files, and Agent Ransack is dramatically faster. AstroGrep's results presentation is much nicer, and it saves unprintable characters when saving all result lines to a file. I do lots of FIX log searching, and that's a nice feature. However, for complex searches AstroGrep is so slow it's essentially not usable. Sigh. On that note, jko, have you figured out how to get Agent Ransack to use boolean operators? I've never been able to get it to work (short of using a regex similar to below).

(?=.*sfe)(?=.*mapper)

Finds lines that contain both "sfe" and "mapper"

Excellent article. Looks like it's more useful than EVERTHING by Void Tools which is/was my favorite until now.
Of course searching inside articles (Grepping) is WAYYY better than searching only Filenames. I have been using the MS ability to use 255 chrs for a filename to put key words in it, but now I can look up Paprika and brown sugar and get the BBQ recipe at once. Time? I got plenty of time to wait for it to search and not me. Thanks, Rob.

This and everything do completely different things. Everything can find files _by file name_ and using regexes if you wish. It is blazingly fast and yet doesn't have to build or maintain indexes because it uses the one maintained by NTFS itself. Brilliant concept, extraordinarily well done and massively useful.

Astro Grep, on the other hand, like any grep variant or descendant, searches flexibly for CONTENT in files. I haven't looked at this package yet but if it doesn't support booleans that would make it much less flexible than it should be and a deal killer for me.

But there are LOTS of Windows greps out there. I use Bare Grep extensively, though not for the exact same use case as the OP does.

I tried ASTRO GREP and I can say, I finally found the Boolean part to use, so it DOES have Logic for the words. I still like putting key words into the filenames and using "Everything" for searching. YMMV. I'm off to find and try your "Bare Grep". Thanks.