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windows search replacementIt’s a bit of a shame that the Windows Search experience has been lackluster in recent OS releases like XP, Vista, 7, and even (in my opinion) 8. Luckily, for the savvy user, there are a whole mess of third-party solutions that make searching the Windows file system what it ought to be: simple and effective.

Picking at your brain on this subject, the first alternative that should come to many minds is Everything Portable Everything Makes File Searching Instant On Your PC Portable Everything Makes File Searching Instant On Your PC Read More . This piece of software is to searching your Windows PC as Dropbox is to file synchronization. There are others though, and neglecting those options could mean you’re missing out on something you find to be even better!

Another of our writers, Aaron, recently pulled through with an article that introduces users to seven pieces of software in this class 7 Awesome Alternatives To Windows Search 7 Awesome Alternatives To Windows Search 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... Read More . In the comments, I stumbled across a recommendation by one of our great readers: UltraFileSearch. After checking out the software, I thought it’d be right to feature a full article on it and introduce everyone else to the extensive round of features.

Click here to check out the official UltraFileSearch website!

First, be advised that UltraFileSearch is available in two versions: Standard (shareware) and Lite (freeware). In this article, I’ll be covering the Lite edition. If you’d like to check out the differences between both versions, check out the Features page of their page.

windows search replacement

UltraFileSearch is advertised as being compatible with the following versions of Windows:

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  • Windows® NT 4.0
  • Windows® 2000
  • Windows® XP
  • Windows® Server 2003
  • Windows® Server 2003 R2
  • Windows Vista®
  • Windows® Server 2008
  • Windows® 7
  • Windows® Server 2008 R2

However, I tested it out on Windows 8 Pro (64-bit) and it worked just fine.

Both versions are available in hard installation and portable forms. As always, I go for the portable version. The download is only 1.90 MB in size and will take you a quick second. Afterwards, simply extract the archive to a folder of your choice.

free replacement windows search

Getting comfortable with the interface isn’t difficult. While there are other search applications that are more stylish and glossy, UltraFileSearch Lite is aesthetically plain.

free replacement windows search

Just looking at the above screenshot, you can see many of the features available to you in UltraFileSearch Lite:

  • Search by Mode, either Simple or Wildcards for more efficient searching.
  • Support to search external and flash drives.
  • Recursive scanning of subfolders.
  • Search specifically for files or folder names.

While many Windows Search ninjas Top 7 Windows Search Tricks Used by Pro Users Top 7 Windows Search Tricks Used by Pro Users Read More may know how to utilize aforementioned features with what comes with Windows, UltraFileSearch Lite really puts it out there for you. Across the top, you should also see the Containing Text and Date and Size tabs. These are further ways to narrow your results.

free replacement windows search

Searches for containing text are really great for TXT, PDF, DOCX, and other text-based file formats. UltraFileSearch Lite supports matching words or phrases, case sensitivity, and allows you to include or exclude certain file types.

replace windows search

Searching by date and size can be a great substitute for wildcard searches. If you’re searching for one specific file that you know was modified, created, or last accessed in the past hour, UltraFileSearch Lite is great for pinpointing that. You can also search for files of large sizes if you’re interested in saving disk space, for example.

It should be known that UltraFileSearch Lite installs no services or anything in the background. That being said, no indexing is possible. For users who don’t want a resource-intensive search, this is great. Unlike Everything though, UltraFileSearch Lite also does not create a database of your files per search. Either way, it is just as its name suggests and very light. You’ll find search speeds to be generally slower than another application that supports these features, but any other assumptions about speed are completely dependent on the specifications of your system.

replace windows search

Additional features include the ability to export your search results in multiple different formats. I find the HTML format to be the most pleasing to read and scan over.

replace windows search

You can also export to comma-delimited or plain text formats. You can also change the view of how your search results are displayed.

windows search replacement

Above you can see results displayed as large icons rather than a list. It’s little features like that which make UltraFileSearch Lite a pleasant experience. Another big deal about UltraFileSearch Lite is that it can search any NTFS or FAT systems. Many others don’t support FAT32. You’re also able to search by environment variables and network path names, which are two features that advanced users may find very useful.

Overall, UltraFileSearch may seem to pale in comparison to your trusty Everything, but it will get the job done better than Windows Search. It’s a free and portable application that I think is worth a try. Let me know what you think of UltraFileSearch Lite in the comments!

If you’re pleased with what Windows Search has to offer you, maybe you’d be also  interested in MUO’s guide on Windows 7 search tips!

  1. mac patrocks
    January 6, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    This is my new fav app.

  2. Hank Friedman
    January 6, 2013 at 3:52 am

    Unfortunately, for those of us who have a small SSD C: drive for faster bootup and a D: drive for program and data storage, the free version of this program is useless because you cannot specify search C and D without every other device being searched (e.g. any flash drives attached to the system, disks in the DVD drive, etc.)

    Much Much WORSE however is it missed 79% of the files! I searched my PC for files created since 7 pm and this program found 52, but my Go To search utility found 249! That makes this search tool USELESS.

  3. Matthew Zaleski
    January 5, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    While this search tool looks quite interesting, am I the only one that thinks the Windows 8 UI looks like a turd from the 1980's. It is so godawful ugly and it even ruins quality apps that have the misfortune of using standard Windows controls.

    I never thought the day would come that a desktop OS could regress so far in the UI department from one release to the next. At least 1990's UNIX GUIs (e.g. Motif) were a "new thing" and still evolving. What is Microsoft's excuse?

    • Craig Snyder
      January 9, 2013 at 9:57 pm

      Are you speaking from your own experiences or from the looks of the UI based on my screenshots? If it's all because of me, don't judge Windows 8 too harshly! I intentionally dumbed down the visuals for my Windows 8 just to get the most performance out of my machine. It pained me to see that Windows 8 doesn't ship with the Windows Classic theme.

  4. Tarek Ramadan
    December 31, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    will try looks better than windows search

  5. Anonymous
    December 31, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    I will give it a shot.

  6. ReadandShare
    December 30, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    Downloaded it. Tried it. Liked it. Thanks!

  7. don lefler
    December 30, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    why should i switch from Copernic? it's fantastic, but i see Aaron Couch didn't even include the search tool in his original article about the seven options...

    • epiquestions
      December 31, 2012 at 12:09 pm

      then don't switch. if the article didn't affect you in any way just move on.

    • Aaron Couch
      January 7, 2013 at 4:03 am

      Hey Don,

      Thanks for sharing about Copernic. I actually don't believe I've heard about it. Of course, there can only be so many programs reviewed in an article before it becomes excessively long, but I will take a look at Copernic. Thanks again.

  8. Bob
    December 30, 2012 at 9:38 am

    For a general search Everything seems miles faster. I will add to my collection but think I will use everything as my main search.

  9. Saumyakanta Sahoo
    December 30, 2012 at 8:42 am

    its too much easier....awesome

  10. eric
    December 30, 2012 at 5:46 am

    i'd still go with everything.

  11. Jim Carter
    December 30, 2012 at 5:20 am

    Excellent post! "Everything" was my favorite portable search tool, but I'm switching to UltraFileSearch! It worked fine for me under Windows 8 also.

  12. Pierre
    December 30, 2012 at 4:14 am

    Nothing beats Everything in my book. It's instant and ultra simple to use.

    • A Murder of Crows
      December 30, 2012 at 8:10 pm

      Everything has one major disadvantage: It only works on windows native file systems. I use FlexRAID as a storage pool and Everything will not read the files on my 10TB storage pool drive because it is not a standard NTFS partition. As a result, Everything is pretty much useless. I'm hoping to find something in article that is a real alternative to Everything.

  13. Anonymous
    December 30, 2012 at 4:11 am

    I have been using Agent ransack, it works awesome and you can read about the post I did on it, blows Windows Search out of the water!

  14. Ashwin Divakaran
    December 30, 2012 at 3:16 am

    Looks a bit easier than the standard Windows Search

    • Nikhil Chandak
      December 30, 2012 at 5:41 am

      yea !

    • Prashant Mirjankar
      February 25, 2013 at 6:35 am

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