Editorial: Has Windows Search Got Any Better Over The Years? Hint: It Hasn't

By Julio Franco ยท 47 replies
Nov 7, 2012
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  1. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,671   +1,960

    So true :)

    Nice article! ;)
  2. Punkid

    Punkid TS Guru Posts: 422   +7

    Nice article.. and I couldnt agree more on the categorization of results in windows 8, that is just downright stupid...
    if anyone knows a way around that, please comment :p
  3. I always use search tools from third parties like this tool called "Everything" just google it :D
  4. Puiu

    Puiu TS Evangelist Posts: 2,672   +1,102

    In metro search is the only thing I use and it's only because I'm forced to. I find it really annoying.
    psycros likes this.
  5. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    Well said Per, it all leaves you biting the carpet over how stupid younger developers can be. How can the new ebay search be called an improvement? Don't they actually use these things themselves?

    Plenty of opportunity for third-parties to do better. I would also like to know how such artificial stupidity (as opposed to artificial intelligence) can actually help people find things at our present time where information is just exploding in quantity and complexity beyond all reason.

    Google still seems (just about) on top of how to return the most relevant results of searches incredibly quickly. Long may it stay that way.

    Right now, we are at the point where MS systems are actually making work less productive. I would welcome a comparison with how things are done under competitive OS's such as Linux and Mac OS.
    PC EliTiST and psycros like this.
  6. ET3D

    ET3D TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,384   +172

    I'll second the vote for Everything.

    Also if you use Windows key + F you get a global search which has more filters and can search in more places, and also displays the result in a much better format. I have no idea how else to get to it, so it's certainly possible that few people know about it (hey, I didn't until a few minutes ago).

    I hated it when Google removed support for '+'. There's now no way to tell the search engine "I really want this word in the result".
    psycros likes this.
  7. Darth Shiv

    Darth Shiv TS Evangelist Posts: 1,811   +472

    Agreed. Up to Win7 I turn off indexing because I don't know what it is skipping. Win2k search ftw!
    psycros likes this.
  8. raybk

    raybk TS Rookie Posts: 31

    It's true.
    The searching function in Windows 7 is rubbish, total rubbish!!!
    In Outlook, I can see the word in my email but it cannot find it. I need to turn off indexing to make it work.
    In file/folder, I cannot search the file content I need easily. I need to do some setup for that folder or file type to make it work. If the folder is network folder, it completely fails!
    TJGeezer and psycros like this.
  9. I use locate32....works in a similar way to linux locate but with a gui.:D
  10. Per Hansson

    Per Hansson TS Server Guru Posts: 1,960   +218

    Thanks for the recommendation, for me it's not really a choice to install some third party search software on all machines I use at work though...
    Edit: And after some more research it's not very usable in a large corporate network, from their own FAQ: ""Everything" will only locate files and folders on local NTFS volumes."

    For me this search box is no different than the one shown in my screenshot in the article.
    It is the same search box that you can invoke when performing a search under the start-menu in Windows 7 and then press "See more results" at the bottom of the menu... (Or in 2000/XP by going to "Start > Search > For Files or Folders...")

    I don't turn off indexing but when I don't find what I'm looking for I feel the need to login to a pre-vista machine and perform the search there, just to be sure...
    -And indeed in about 9/10 cases when doing this I do find what I'm looking for!?

    This might be useful if you are having problems with indexing on servers btw: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/...es-using-the-index-frequently-asked-questions
    See the questions "Why aren't files from an indexed folder showing up in search results?"
    And "What if I'm using Windows Server 2008 R2?"
  11. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 1,877   +1,298

    <standing ovation>

    This article so nails it, and so exemplifies the laziness and outright idiocy of the modern developer. We've went from free-form queries with instant response to "exact text only" that takes an age; from unlimited multitasking to "dual panes"; from point-and-click to type-and-pray. No doubt the next step will be doing away with the GUI altogether, because pure text is "so minimalistic". Because that's what I want from my quad-core smartphone or octa-core PC with a high-powered gfx chipset - bland, unattractive, user-unfriendly minimalism. Windows 9 is shaping up to be DOS 5.0, and if Microsoft wants to kill itself, I say more power to 'em. Somebody will happily take their place.
    TJGeezer likes this.
  12. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 1,877   +1,298

    Oh, and for a <b>real</b> search utility: Agent Ransack. It slams.
  13. Amigosdefox

    Amigosdefox TS Booster Posts: 100   +10

    I'm using windows 7 64 bit and I really like searching in the start menu and having results show up as I type and clicking enter to launch programs(I wish pressing enter would work with files and not only with programs). It's great to launch applications and pretty much eliminates the need to have your desktop cluttered with shortcuts. However as you state in the article the system is broken. As I posted here for some reason results for searches disappear as I finish typing file names. Also, indexing frequently stops working and I have to restart Windows search as described here. It's a shame that what worked in Windows 7 has been eliminated in Windows 8. Just for this reason I wont upgrade anytime soon.
  14. Jesse

    Jesse TS Evangelist Posts: 358   +42

    I disagree. The standard image at my workplace is a windows xp image. I use a non-standard windows 7 machine and people come to me just to search for things on the network because I can find things ten times faster than the xp machines.
  15. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 7,676   +991

    As mentioned in the article, I have my own issues with Windows search especially with 7/8 for not delivering good results across all files, programs and settings. OS X does it with better and makes it look effortless since you're rarely bothered by any "indexing" service: http://d.pr/I/XFtC

    While in the topic, I wanted to bring up another Windows annoyance that's been present since Vista, but from what I've observed has been resolved in Windows 8. Browsing a local directory or network address can sometimes take ages for no good reason; the address bar would keep "working" showing a progress bar so 1 minute later it would show results? At least in the month I've been using Windows 8 final that's never happened. Crossing fingers.
    psycros likes this.
  16. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,177   +990

    Hmm; I'm using Win/7 Pro SP1 and find no need for the global '*' prefix. For fun I searched for '.doc' without the quotes (yea, 100's of them) and got both folder and file names returned. A suffix like PDF without the dot performs well too. Tokens mid-file-name also finds all variations just as well.

    My folder view has the Search tool and using it finds files nicely, even in nested folders if so requested.

    One annoyance to me is searching for example check, I get results which include specific files like topic185.html and mysql-DataTypes.html which makes no sense!

    I'm not trying to denigrate the article, but only to note sometimes we see different behaviors due to configurations which are totally inexplicable.

    On the whole however, the article makes several good points.
  17. Per Hansson

    Per Hansson TS Server Guru Posts: 1,960   +218

    jobeard what you say is true on my system aswell.
    For example I have one file named: dogbone profile.docx

    I can find it by searching for just: .docx
    And I can find it by searching for: dogbone
    But I can not find it by searching for just: bone
    To do that I need to add the asterisk, so this works: *bone

    And that is what I meant by the quote "That's not so bad you might say, but why make the change, and why isn't it consistent? Why can I find vnc if I search for "tight" or "ultra" without an asterisk at the end of the string?"

    As for your search: "check"
    And it returning files like topic185.html & mysql-DataTypes.html
    That is because the content of those files contain the word "check"
    This is the nice thing IMO with Win7 search, it indexes file content aswell, making it possible to find files that you have no idea what they are named, so long as you know what is written in the files...
  18. EXCellR8

    EXCellR8 The Conservative Posts: 1,835

    Windows search is largely useless; skips entire directories.
  19. Kralnor

    Kralnor TS Enthusiast Posts: 37

    Great article! I have to say that I miss Wink2 sometimes.
  20. Darth Shiv

    Darth Shiv TS Evangelist Posts: 1,811   +472

    Finding things 10x faster is one thing. The problem is the index can skip things and not display the results you are after. To me that is unacceptable and the reason I don't bother with indexed search.

    Also configuration of the content indexing... there is no automated smarts for this. It is manual config to set it one way or another and have you looked at the list of extensions windows has registered?? Who wants to spend hours or even days configuring the settings or validating the existing ones from some seemingly endless list??
    psycros likes this.
  21. Kyriacos

    Kyriacos TS Rookie

    Seems to be a nice article, but I won't bother reading it...
    Windows search has been amazingly improved, ever since windows Vista, then W7 and now it even works better, if you know what you are looking for...
  22. nickblame

    nickblame TS Enthusiast Posts: 43

    3 out of 4 times I want to search something in a Windows machine, I type the search, I wait 5 seconds, I get bored and I try to find the file while waiting for the "search" to "find" files. As it turns out I tend to put files where I will most probably find them if I search for them (I know me quite well :) and I always find the damned file after some careful browsing in my directories. Then I return to the "search results" which almost never have any non ridiculous findings and close the search so that the hard drives stop crunching.

    Locate32 is awesome. Thank god there is that solution for Windows too. Shame to MS for not doing it right after so many years.
  23. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,177   +990

    while my search for check operates as if I entered *check*.*
    and I do find checklist.doc, user_checks.xls, etc . . .
  24. PC EliTiST

    PC EliTiST TS Enthusiast Posts: 51   +7

    Wow! First time I see an image of Apple's search mechanism... It's so simple and all I could dream of... Why, oh, why are we in the dark for so many years? Damn gaming... Especially on Metro, couldn't they make it behave a little smarter? Why must I click on each category?

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