10 Best Free Search Tools for Windows 10
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We have found several compelling reasons to love Windows 10 10 Surprising Reasons Why You Will Like Windows 10 10 Surprising Reasons Why You Will Like Windows 10 It's almost cool to hate on Windows 10 these days. Don't let that deprive you of all the benefits Windows 10 will bring! We show you what you're missing out on. Read More , including small things like new features in the Task Manager 10 Windows Task Manager Tricks You Didn't Know 10 Windows Task Manager Tricks You Didn't Know If the only time you open the Task Manager is when an application is frozen and needs to be killed, you're overlooking some of its more powerful features. Read More and the introduction of Quick Access Navigate Your Favorite Files Faster in Windows 10 with Quick Access Navigate Your Favorite Files Faster in Windows 10 with Quick Access File Explorer in Windows 10 introduces a subtle change: The Favorites bar is now Quick Access, which relies on data to show your most used folders first. And you can still pin or hide folders. Read More . But one of the biggest improvements is the new Start Menu and improved search functionality A Guide to the Windows 10 Start Menu A Guide to the Windows 10 Start Menu Windows 10 fixes the Start Menu dilemma! Getting to grips with the new Start Menu will supercharge your Windows 10 experience. With this handy guide, you'll be an expert in no time. Read More .

Windows Search has always had a number of neat tips and tricks you could use Top 7 Windows Search Tricks Used by Pro Users Top 7 Windows Search Tricks Used by Pro Users Read More , but it was never quite on par with the search features of OS X and Linux. And while Windows 10 did lessen the gap in a lot of ways, it’s still slow and imperfect.

If you find yourself constantly searching for files and folders throughout your system, you may be better off switching to one of these third-party tool instead. Windows Search is only good for basic and casual use.

1. Everything

Everything is consistently lauded as one of the fastest search tools for Windows What Are the Fastest Tools for Windows Desktop Search? What Are the Fastest Tools for Windows Desktop Search? Search is one of the digital tools we take for granted and heavily rely on. Fortunately, Windows comes with a handy search feature. Could third-party tools be better and faster? We made the test. Read More . Using it is as simple as it gets: install it, open the program, and give it a bit to index your entire system. (It can index a fresh Windows install in under a minute.)


Once that’s done, all you have to do is type anything into the text field and you will get instantaneous results as you type. And as long as you allow Everything to sit in the background and monitor system changes, it will always be instantaneous.

Best of all, it’s lightweight and takes up less than 5 MB of RAM and 1 MB of disk space. This is the absolute best tool to use for old and slow computers.

2. Lookeen

Lookeen does the same thing as Everything, but is a more full-featured solution. It can search for content beyond just file names and it does so with speed. The search window can also show previews of certain file types, even allowing you to edit text files directly.

Lookeen can also search external drives in addition to local ones, and there are a few filter options you can use to narrow down files further than with text queries only.

If you visit the Lookeen site, you’ll have a hard time finding the free version — but rest assured because a free version does exist! Don’t fall for the 14-day trial of the business version.

3. Listary

Of all the software on this list, Listary is probably the most unique. Not only is it extremely minimal in design, but it stays completely out of your way until you need it. When you want to search, just start typing! It’s as easy as that.

And as you type, Listary will show a list of all files on your system that match the query — in real-time. In addition, Listary can execute commands like “Open Folder” and “Copy Folder Path”. You can even use Listary to quickly hop into a different folder just by typing its name.

Some of its best features require Listary Pro which is $20. But even with Listary Free, you get a lot of power and flexibility.

4. grepWin

Back when I was a serious programmer, grepWin was one of the most useful tools I had at my disposal. With it, you can search through any directory tree and it will find files by matching contents with your search query (regular expression are supported).


If you’ve ever used Linux, it’s basically the “grep” command for Windows A Quick Guide To Get Started With The Linux Command Line A Quick Guide To Get Started With The Linux Command Line You can do lots of amazing stuff with commands in Linux and it's really not difficult to learn. Read More . So the next time you need to search for a specific line of code or a specific line of documentation, this will cut your search time by orders of magnitude. It’s really that useful.

5. AstroGrep

AstroGrep is a great alternative to grepWin in case the latter doesn’t fit your fancy for whatever reasons. It does the same thing — finds files that match your search query by content rather than file name — but is slightly less advanced and easier to use.


You can designate which file types to search, view file contents within AstroGrep itself, and save or print results for later. Potential future features include searching through PDFs, MP3s, ZIPs, RARs, and more.

AstroGrep has been around since 2006 and continues to receive regular updates.

6. SearchMyFiles

SearchMyFiles seems helplessy primitive at first glance, but it’s deceptively flexible. Once you get over the slight learning curve, you’ll be able to put together complex search queries using filters and wildcards.


For example, search all files created in the last 15 minutes, between 300 and 600 bytes in size, and containing the word “error”. The application is lightweight and portable (no installation required), so you can carry it around on an USB stick Are USB Flash Drives Still Worth It In 2015? Are USB Flash Drives Still Worth It In 2015? USB flash drives are great for storage, but they have so many other uses. Here's how they're worth their weight in gold. Read More .

NirSoft also maintains hundreds of other small tools, such as utilities for decluttering your right-click menu How to Declutter the Right Click Menu the Easy Way How to Declutter the Right Click Menu the Easy Way Sick of having a right click menu that's filled with a bunch of shortcuts you don't need? Clear them up with this one tool! Read More . All of them are clean, portable, and available free of charge.

7. Copernic Desktop Search

Copernic has been in the search industry since 1996, starting first as a web search engine, but eventually becoming known for its spectacular desktop search application. In fact, it’s considered by many as the #1 desktop search tool in the world.


It comes in a free version and a commercial version. Unfortunately, the free version can’t search network drives, external drives, cloud storages, Outlook emails, Lotus notes, and has an index limit of 75,000 files. But for basic home usage, it’s more than enough.

8. Exselo Desktop

Exselo Desktop isn’t as well-known as other desktop search options, which is a shame because it’s actually quite good. It supports powerful search queries, has a simple interface, securely share data, and even integrates with Outlook.


Not only can it search local drives, but Exselo can also comb through network and cloud stores. And best of all, the Free edition is feature complete. The only difference between Free and Enterprise: support for multiple users.

9. Duplicate & Same Files Searcher

Can you guess how much of your hard drive space is wasted by duplicate files? The answer might surprise you. Duplicate files are more common than we tend to think, and if those duplicates are image, audio, or video files, they can take up a LOT of unnecessary space 5 Ways To Find Duplicate Image Files On Windows PC 5 Ways To Find Duplicate Image Files On Windows PC Read More .


Duplicate & Same Files Searcher is a tiny portable program — less than 1 MB in size — that finds all files that are identical by content (not by file name). As such, the scanning process can be a bit slow, but you can filter and set parameters to speed things up.

And not only can the program delete said duplicates, but it can replace them with “hard links” that are basically shortcuts to one single file, thus saving you space without breaking anything in the meanwhile.

10. Registry Finder

Despite the extra searchability in Windows 10, the registry is still a bit crude and could use a lot of love. Whether you want to fix errors in the registry How to Fix Windows Registry Errors & When Not to Bother How to Fix Windows Registry Errors & When Not to Bother In most cases, fixing our registry will do nothing. Sometimes registry errors cause havoc after all. Here we'll explore how to identify, isolate and fix registry problems – and when to not bother at all. Read More or just make a few tweaks for usability 5 Windows 10 Registry Tweaks to Improve & Unlock Features 5 Windows 10 Registry Tweaks to Improve & Unlock Features The registry editor is the only way to enable some of Windows 10's hidden features. Here we'll show you easy tweaks like enabling the dark theme or hiding folders. Read More , the process of finding keys can be slow and tedious.


Registry Finder is a free tool that makes registry navigation easy. It also has the ability to search keys according to when they were last modified, meaning this tool comes in handy when you want to see all recent changes that were made (e.g. for troubleshooting).

What’s Your Preferred Search Tool?

After you’ve learned all of the tricks to File Explorer How to Get the Most Out of the Windows 10 File Explorer How to Get the Most Out of the Windows 10 File Explorer Windows File Explorer is one of the most underrated features of Windows 10. Here we demonstrate how to manage and control the Windows 10 File Explorer from the bottom up and reveal features you never... Read More , if you still feel like Windows file navigation and searching just isn’t good enough, then you owe it to yourself to start using one or more of the tools listed above.

That’s one of the nice things about Windows. Sure, there might be a lot of things that annoy and frustrate you 7 Things That Really Annoy Us About Windows 10 7 Things That Really Annoy Us About Windows 10 It's not a secret that Windows 10 isn't perfect. Cortana borders on being intrusive, mandatory updates can cause issues, and much appears half-baked. We present our top 7 of most glaring Windows 10 annoyances. Read More , but the user base is so large that you’ll always be able to find a third-party tool that improves upon Microsoft’s shortcomings.

So tell us: which desktop search tool do you like the best? Which features are the most important to you? Or are you totally fine with Windows Search? Share with us in the comments below!

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  1. Meg
    February 12, 2018 at 9:31 pm

    I have always used MS 'File Explorer' to search though my photography on an external disk. It has suddenly become very unreliable and gives me a message "No items match your search" now. Which of the above programs would you recommend to search through several tera-bytes of photos. I have tried contacting MS, and that is a total joke. Thank you for any advice you may have.

    • Geez Louis
      May 17, 2018 at 9:47 am

      I personally use Everything and Wox. Everything amazing. Wox is just a front end for it, if you will. The UI is tons better than Everything and it has a keyboard shortcut. Those two work hand in hand. Wox doesn't work without Everything FYI. Cortana is complete shit for me.

  2. Rudi
    January 9, 2018 at 7:16 pm

    You should have included locate32, which is a highly impressive program to search files and folders based on their names stored in a database. It is available for Windows 98/ME/NT4/2000/XP/Vista/7, and much faster than Windows Search. You can choose to include or not include folder names in the search, and can search for text strings within files. Both 32 bit and 64 bit versions available. A con might be that it uses databases to store information about directory structures and uses these databases in searches. And it's not as full-featured as Copernic or Google.

  3. Tim
    April 12, 2017 at 11:04 pm

    Agent Ransack is the one I use. I highly recommend it.

    • Ray
      November 30, 2017 at 3:51 am

      Ditto. Very fast, lightweight and fast. Did I say it was fast? It's also fast!

    • Herb
      January 8, 2018 at 6:01 pm

      I'm surprised Agent Ransack was excluded from this list. There must be a good reason for it being overlooked.

  4. Utomo
    March 26, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    Does Copernic desktop still developed ? I hope they keep developing it. but it look like no good progress

  5. FH
    February 6, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    Lookeen Free will not index network drives. Only the C drive. Bummer.

    • Utomo
      March 26, 2017 at 8:42 pm

      How about Drive D, E or other (but Local) and what is other limitation ?
      how many file limit ?

      • FH
        March 27, 2017 at 1:16 am

        Yes, local drives. Not network or mapped drives.

  6. rob
    August 28, 2016 at 12:30 am

    Which search tool has the ability to search for an email in Windows Outlook 2016 Desktop application?

  7. Morten
    June 6, 2016 at 9:03 am

    Many great tools on this list. They do however cover different scenarios within Windows 10. As Eric says, if you need something that provides more in-depth capabilities and support for indexing data from inside the different files, my experience is that there are only 3 of the tools that can do that:

    Exselo Desktop
    Copernic (with restrictions)

    They also come with capabilities to index your email items and other locations as well. All in all, these products seems more geared towards a professional user, even though they offer free versions.

    • Joel Lee
      June 9, 2016 at 12:38 am

      Yeah, you're absolutely right, Morten. Not all of the programs on the list are equal, nor do they intend to be. The key, like you said, is to find the ones that will work best for what you need. Those three are definitely more towards the "power user" end of the spectrum, I agree.

  8. miaousse
    May 20, 2016 at 11:14 am

    my vote goes to listary wich is great for my use

  9. Eric Ebert
    May 19, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    I aslo think everything is great. It's light on resources and usually completes the initial index in a few hours. If you need to search the content of documents or files though, everything can't do that. In this situation, you'd want to use Lookeen which takes a bit longer in building the initial index, but will search content, as well as file names. #2 on the the list.

    Please let me know if you try it out and have any feedback for me.

    (Full disclosure: I work for the developers of Lookeen)

  10. julien
    May 14, 2016 at 7:55 pm

    docfetcher is the best

  11. Simon
    May 14, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    Used "Everything" for a while, then changed over to

    It's similar to "Everything", but i just prefer MasterSeeker (also available in portable), which has some benefits over "Everything".

    See this link for a comparison discussion:


  12. Mr.Know-It-All
    May 14, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    Hello, all.
    IMO, I think Everything is great!
    It works well, plus you may get the occasional funny error message;
    On my Win 7 box, I've seen "Everything has stopped working", which is a hoot.

    Have a GREAT day, Neighbors!