Stump the PC Club is a free tech-advice column written by members of the North Orange County Computer Club, which has been in existence since 1976. Visit the club’s site at noccc.org.
QUESTION: We occasionally want to locate a file on our computer. Can you recommend a good way to search? Do we need another program?
PC CLUB: First, let’s discuss several ways to search. One way to search is by File or Folder name and there are several free programs that do this well. Another way to search is for file contents. For example, if you don’t remember a name of a file but you remember several words that it contains, you can find it this way.
Also, different programs use 2 different methods to search. The first method uses an index that is built initially making it more efficient to make subsequent searches. The disadvantage is that indexing may slow your PC somewhat. The second method is to search on the fly which could take some time but there is nothing running in the background.
A neat, free program that can find files or folders quickly is called Everything which is available at http://www.voidtools.com. For a free program that searches based on file contents see Copernic Desktop Search at http://bit.ly/copernicfree.
A great alternative to both of these is the built-in Windows 7 Search. It takes some practice and patience to use it to its fullest but it works. The Windows 7 Search indexes the user files and folders by default but if you have data stored elsewhere, you can add the location to the Indexing setting. To do this, perform the following steps:
1. Click Start and type indexing
2. Click Indexing options at the top of the results
3. Click Modify at the bottom and in the window that opens, use the top pane to add any folders or sub folders to the list of indexed locations. It could take several minutes for Windows Search to index the newly added location(s). Click OK when finished.
To search, click Start and add your search term. You can click See more results to open the main search window. You can start with the main window by holding the Windows key and pressing F on your keyboard. Enter your search term into the Search box at the upper left.
You can refine your search by using the Kind, Date modified, Type and Size operators. For example you, can search for recipes kind=email to limit your results to email messages. To search for an exact phrase, surround it in quotes.
Ed Schwartz is a member of the North Orange County Computer Club. To send in a question, go to edwardns.com and click the Contact Me menu. Archives of previous columns are also on the website.