7 Awesome Alternatives To Windows Search

1 XX Awesome Alternatives to Windows Search Intro Image1   7 Awesome Alternatives To Windows SearchHave you ever searched for a program, file or folder on your computer only to discover that the default search application takes longer to display your search than it does for you to go find it manually yourself? I have. And I’d imagine that most Windows users face this same dilemma.

Although there are some things you can do to improve searching using the Windows Search – and the search application seems to be much more improved in Windows 7 – there are some excellent alternatives to the default Windows Search that you should consider.

These applications are all free and allow you to get your results quicker and more efficiently. And some even display more accurate results.

UltraSearch

2 UltraSearch   7 Awesome Alternatives To Windows Search

UltraSearch is a creation of JAM Software. They are also the creators of the popular hard drive space program, TreeSize. UltraSearch offers the essential features and a few extras while still keeping it simple and remaining fast – giving you search results in seconds.

It works by directly searching the Master File Table (MFT). Within the search window, all of the important file information is displayed. It also displays all of your computer’s partitions and their total size and free space. Additional options include showing folders and/or files in a search, exclude filters and printing the search results.

Snowbird

3 Snowbird   7 Awesome Alternatives To Windows Search

Snowbird has been mentioned previously on MakeUseOf as a Windows Explorer alternative, which it excels at. But it also does a great job at searching for files and quickly displaying them. If you’re using an operating system older than Windows 7, this is a great solution for both Windows Explorer and Windows Search. However, the Windows 7 Search is quite comparable to Snowbird and there isn’t much of a reason to have both. The developer makes a similar statement on the website:

These are relatively recent software, however they have largely been made obsolete by the shift to Windows 7, which provides most of the functionality of the applications below.

With that said, I still noticed a much better performance in the speed and quality in the search results that Snowbird presented, compared to the Windows 7 search.

4 Snowbird Advanced Search   7 Awesome Alternatives To Windows Search

Pictured above is the Advanced Search option. As you can see, there is no browse feature at all in the “Look in:” field. In my opinion, this renders the Advanced Search option completely counter productive. You’d be better off performing a regular search and narrowing down the folder by opening the C:/ drive (or whichever drive you’re searching), like you would in a Windows Search and then using the search box at the top right corner. This is where I got the most success in the speed of receiving results. Don’t get me wrong, Snowbird is a good program. But in my experience, it has some flaws.

FileSearchEX

5 FileSearchEX   7 Awesome Alternatives To Windows Search

If you love Windows 7, but prefer the style of the Windows XP search, this is the program for you. It has portable capability and a familiar search interface. It also uses minimal system resources. However, there is one drawback. The free version is a trial. Not in the sense that the program itself will expire, but the search window will timeout. If you choose to use this program, just be aware of that. Open the window, complete your search and close it. If you do this in a timely manner you should be fine. Overall the performance was ok. It wasn’t nearly as fast as the other programs that I tested, but I still noticed it was quicker than the default Windows Search and is a good alternative.

Super Finder XT

Super Finder XT has a very nice interface and performs at a good speed in displaying your search results. It’s interface mimics the Microsoft Office 2007 and 2010 versions. It’s not overly complicated, but offers a decent amount of features. Below is an example of what an advanced search looks like.

6 Super Finder XT   7 Awesome Alternatives To Windows Search

7 Super Finder XT Advanced Search   7 Awesome Alternatives To Windows Search

The non-supporter has quite a few features on it’s own. However, the site states that you can use the supporters version, also free, if you become a supporter – obviously. Any amount paid through PayPal will qualify you to be a supporter – which is quite nice. The perks of having this version means you can use it portably, easily exclude folders from the search, use hotkeys, enable Most Recent Used management, and select multiple files.

8 Super Finder XT Advanced Search Options   7 Awesome Alternatives To Windows Search

Locate32

9 Locate32   7 Awesome Alternatives To Windows Search

Locate32 has been previously covered on MakeUseOf. Despite the age of the article that was linked to, the program itself has changed very little since then. It is a free, simple, yet a full featured search program. And it’s good at it. I don’t feel I need to say much more about it. The article featuring it does a good job of explaining all it’s features, but it’s a great alternative to the Windows Search and this article wouldn’t be the same without it.

Search Everything

10 Everything   7 Awesome Alternatives To Windows Search

With a name like that, your expectations are automatically high, but this program doesn’t disappoint. Search Everything, by Voidtools, is probably the most renowned search application. It’s portable, free and just an all around great program. Upon starting it for the first time  with your computer, it will build a database of all your files, but it does this fairly quickly and updates all of the displayed files and folders as you type, narrowing down your search in a “live” sort of way. There isn’t really an “advanced search” option, but it doesn’t really need it because it is it’s own advanced search.

Honorable Mention

Launchy

11 Launchy resized   7 Awesome Alternatives To Windows Search

If you haven’t heard of Launchy already, you’re in for a real treat. Keep in mind that this has been given a honorable mention because it is an excellent program for searching programs. It doesn’t perform searches for files and folders – only executable files (programs), but it does an exceptional job. It’s very customization friendly. If you have a certain theme on your computer or just like the look of a certain skin, you can apply it to Launchy. It’s most useful by prompting it with a keyboard shortcut. This means that you probably want it running on your computer all the time so that it is quickly accessible whenever you want to find a program. It removes the need for excessive amounts of desktop icons that clutter your workspace and it is faster than the default Windows Search on the start menu used to find the program you are looking for.

Conclusion

Now that you have been bombarded with more search options than you know what to do with, it’s up to you to make the right decision. My best advice would be to try one out that you feel suits you and if you find yourself using it a lot than it’s probably a good fit. If not, either you need to change a habit or there’s something about the program that just turns you off. This isn’t a bad thing, just come back to this article and find another option that sounds good. Bottom line though, you really can’t go wrong with any of these options. They are all great and all fast at displaying your search results – although some are faster than others. Others may offer a few more features or an interface that you find more appealing. It’s up to you!

What current methods are you using to find your programs and files? Do you use an alternative to Windows Search that wasn’t mentioned here? How do you think Windows 7 Search compares to the search application in previous versions of Windows?

UPDATE: It’s been noted by one of our readers that Launchy can also search for documents (and any file extensions for that matter). You can do this by right clicking on it or the icon in your toolbar and then click “Options.” Make sure you’re on the “Catalog” tab. Then on the right side you’ll see “File Types.” Click the “+” to add additional file types. You can also add additional directories and include them in the search.

Image Credit: Magnifying Glass Over Folders via Shutterstock

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

If you have any questions related to what's mentioned in the article or need help with any computer issue, ask it on MakeUseOf Answers—We and our community will be more than happy to help.

55 Comments -

1 votes

musicphann

Everything is fast! Definitely my go to choice.

0 votes

Aaron Couch

Yes it is! It’s my choice too, but I was quite surprised to see how many other alternatives there are available when I researched them.

0 votes

David

Launchy can search files and folders in addition to executables. You just have to add/change the file type to “*.xls” or “*.*” in the catalog. I think by default Launchy only catalogs .ink files, because most people use it to run programs.

0 votes

Aaron Couch

David,

Thanks for pointing that out! I never realized that, but after looking at the settings I do see where you can change it. I’ll see what I can do about changing that in the article.

Thanks for your feedback and for reading.

0 votes

David R.

Seriously, No mention of Agent Ransack! [http://www.mythicsoft.com/page.aspx?type=agentransack&page=home]

Fastest, Most Powerful, Free search tool that I have ever used and have been using for years.
Supports filtering by RegEx, Wildcards, Dates, and Size.
See instant context results for containing text searches. (Supports PDF and Office text searching.)
Detailed print results dialog.
Etc…

I personally feel that it deserves consideration above all others listed here. You do not have to take my word for it; just try it out.

0 votes

Aaron Couch

Another reader also commented about Agent Ransack, and I must say, it looks good! I honestly just didn’t know about it. Thank you for sharing this in the comments though for readers to consider that one as well!

0 votes

David

Some good ones there, but the best for me is FileLocator:
http://www.mythicsoft.com/Page.aspx?type=filelocatorpro&page=home

0 votes

Aaron Couch

David,

That looks like a good program, but is there only a free trial version? That could be a deal killer for a lot of people.

0 votes

DeepForest

My choice goes to Ultra File Search , listing hiden files , atributes , all info about a file , the choice to manage search options to everywhere including USB and FAT32 , cons is not having a database , so is slower . 1T +4USB full of data checking took 20-30 sec . I tried Everything but no FAT32 option .
http://www.ultrafilesearch.com/screenshots.html

0 votes

Nikro000

The free version of it is called Agent Ransack and it is unlimited. The good thing is that it searches inside many file formats

0 votes

Aaron Couch

Interesting. Thanks for the info! I wonder why I’ve never heard of it. Hope you found the article helpful. Thanks for reading.

0 votes

Saiwal

My favourite is ava find. It is not in development since 2004 but the ‘search scout’ and ‘favourite picks’ feature is very handy.
http://www2.think-less-do-more.com/avafind/

0 votes

Aaron Couch

Thanks for sharing about AVA Find, Saiwal. I will have to check it out. 2004 is a long time ago to not have updated software though… how does it work with Windows 7?

0 votes

Saiwal

it still works great in windows 7

0 votes

Aaron Couch

Good to know! Thanks!

0 votes

Paruhang Chamling

I had been using Ava Find for 7 years now… I started using it with XP, I used it with Vista and 7 andI recently installed it for Windows 8. Now it doesn’t work very well anymore. It crashes every once in a while. :(

0 votes

Terafall

Launchy is great but it hasn’t been updated for awhile

0 votes

Aaron Couch

Your right. I wonder why that is. Get with it Launchy team! :P Thanks for reading Terafall :)

0 votes

Vipul Jain

Everything patron here :D

0 votes

deepforest

Evrything no FAT 32 search so my vote goes to Ultra File Search .

0 votes

Vipul Jain

yeah i guess some people are still with FAT32drives. but why dont you format it to NTFS.. :o

0 votes

Aaron Couch

Thanks Vipul! I hope you found the information very useful. Thanks for reading.

0 votes

Paul Girardin

Nice article!

My engine of choice is Search Everything (it simply is excellent!)

But I recently found out about a new one called wise jet search from the folks behind Wise Cleaner.

It is free and can be found here: http://www.wisecleaner.com/wisejetsearchfree.html

I just started using it for searches and find it good but Search Everything is still faster.

0 votes

Aaron Couch

Thanks for reading Paul.

Everything is my choice as well. Thanks for sharing about Wise Jet Search!

0 votes

deepforest

I”m not very impressed about wise cleaner

0 votes

Ales Mole

It’s a shame that Google stopped with Google Desktop development…it could search anything :(

0 votes

Aaron Couch

It really is. Thanks for reading Ales! Hope you found this helpful.

0 votes

Ben

Super Finder XT does it for me. I particularly like the user interface.

0 votes

Aaron Couch

Yeah I was really impressed by that interface. It was really a toss up between Super Finder XT and Everything. I’m sticking with Everything as my primary search tool, but we’ll see :P

0 votes

Antonio

I cannot believe that Agent Ransack is not cited.

0 votes

Aaron Couch

Antonio,

Yeah I found out about it after writing this article. It seems like a really great program. Thanks for reading!

0 votes

Shine Somanath

Do we have an alternative which could search inside MS outlook, like emails and attachments within. Windows Desktop search does this but it takes up lot of memory during indexing and slows down your system.

0 votes

Aaron Couch

Shine,

Sorry for overlooking this comment! I didn’t mean to. Have your tried Search Everything by Voidtools? I don’t personally use Outlook, nor have I found a viable solution to your question in my research prior to answering, but I would think Everything would do it since those emails are on your computer.

Let me know if that helps.

0 votes

Ranjit Kumar

With various versions of Windows OS searched have gotten difficult. Even in XP, you need to start search, and from the search dialog you are required to launch file search. These options seem to fill the void. I wish the author had his/her own ranking for these options, its not easy trying out all of these 7.

0 votes

Aaron Couch

Thanks for reading! I usually take the approach to give readers a somewhat unbiased opinion of all of them. This is because each of our needs and preferences are different. What one person may like, another may not. Personally, I like Search Everything by Voidtools, but it’s not the only excellent alternative out there. That’s why I included six more with it that I felt were at the same level or had unique characteristics that set them apart from the rest.

0 votes

ferdinan Sitohang

very helpful, i will pick one of this

0 votes

Aaron Couch

Glad to have helped!

0 votes

Neo Max

Search Everything, by Voidtools

0 votes

Aaron Couch

Agreed :) It’s my personal favorite as well.

0 votes

Chael Wyper

thanks for this review. very informative

0 votes

Aaron Couch

You’re welcome! Thanks for reading.

0 votes

Gian Singh

i’ll just stick with the native search for files

0 votes

Aaron Couch

To each his own :) I always say that as long as it isn’t hindering your workflow and productivity, why change it? Unless it can improve it. It all just depends on the user! Thanks for reading Gian.

0 votes

Alex

Excellent list and review, thanks Aaron!

0 votes

Aaron Couch

Thanks Alex! Glad that you found it helpful!

0 votes

Wadhah

I use everything everyday, it’s only problem that it’s case sensitive. I don’t know how to remove that :(.

0 votes

Aaron Couch

From the “Search” dropdown menu, uncheck “Match Case.” Also, the keyboard shortcut to toggle this on and off is Ctrl + Q.

0 votes

Kaashif Haja

Tried Super Finder XT, It’s good!!!

0 votes

Aaron Couch

Glad it worked well for you! Thanks for reading!

1 votes

Neil Harrington

I love MakeUseOf because of great articles like this.

0 votes

Aaron Couch

Thanks Neil! We love our readers because of great comments like this! :P

0 votes

HLJonnalagadda

Was using Launchy before. Thanks for suggesting Snowbird!

0 votes

Aaron Couch

You’re welcome! Thanks for reading and let me know how it works for you.

0 votes

TMGLost

Thanks for this overview.

I’m looking for something that will allow me to search Win7 file system with the kind of flexibility I am used to from years of using Win2k and WinXP (search by file-type, especially).

There seem to be a few possibilities here – my big question: once files are found, do any of these applications allow you to then operate on the files (move, copy, delete, rename)?

0 votes

Aaron Couch

That’s a great question! I didn’t test this when trying out the programs, but I personally use Everything and know for a fact that it does.