Enabling fast search for filenames

by Mitch Tulloch [Published on 14 July 2011 / Last Updated on 14 July 2011]

How to enable fast searching of filenames in Windows Vista and Windows 7.

Search in Windows Vista and later has been redesigned to focus on meeting the needs of ordinary users who typically want to find documents by name or by text they contain. The downside of this however is that "geeks" (i.e. power users) who are looking for some obscure DLL file or executable such as dmw.exe on their system may not get the results they expect when they search for such files by name. Fortunately there's a simple way of making Windows Search behave the way geeks want it to work:

Begin by configuring the Indexer on your computer as follows:

1. Open Indexing Options from Control Panel.

2. Click Modify and select the root of each drive so that all locations on your computer are indexed. If desired, you can deselect Outlook if you don’t want your emails indexed.

3. If desired, you can also click Advanced and select the File Types tab. Then for each file type you to just want to index the properties of and not their contents, select the file type and change Index Properties and File Contents to Index Properties Only.

4. Close Indexing Options and allow Windows re-index the file system on your computer.

Once re-indexing is complete, you can quickly search for any particular file on your computer like dwm.exe as follows:

1. Click Start followed by Computer, and select the drive you want to search.

2. Click in the search box at the top right of the Explorer window and type filename:dwm.exe so that Windows Search will only return results for files with the name dmw.exe and not also for documents containing the text "dwm.exe".

If you do this, you can quickly search for files by name instead of having to wait for Windows to perform a slow "grep" search of your drives.

By the way, you can tell when a grep search is being performed by the green progress bar that slowly displays in the address bar of the Explorer window.

If you have feedback concerning this tip, please email me. And be sure to check out my website!

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