[Windows] SearchMyFiles is an excellent desktop search program

Microsoft has had to deal with a negative response from both critics and  users regarding the built-in search function for Windows 7. There have been numerous complaints about the efficiency of the feature with users saying that Windows Search is not able to find files which they know exist on their computers, and critics being critics. Thankfully there are a number of utilities that can easily replace the built-in search function with NirSoft’s SearchMyFiles being one of the best free ones.

What is it and what does it do

Main functionality

SearchMyFiles is a computer search utility developed by NirSoft. The utility can be used on any version of Windows to search for files based on its attributes, content, and size — including serving as an alternative to Windows 7’s ‘Search For Files And Folders’ feature and can be used to

Pros

  • Ability to search files by attributes, size, content, time of creation, time when it was last modified, and more
  • Very small in size
  • Installation not necessary — is portable
  • Detailed user manual

Cons

  • Isn’t the quickest search utility out there
  • Has a slight learning curve thanks to semi-confusing interface and large number of options

Discussion

SearchMyFiles is an excellent free utility that is useful for those who need to quickly and easily find files and folders, and those who constantly create new files and folders on their computers. With Windows 7’s search function not up to the mark for some, SearchMyFiles comes across as a vital tool for users, allowing them to search for files and folders based on a number of options.  For example, you can search for a file simply by entering any text that it may contain and specify how many days ago you had created the file. SearchMyFiles also allows you to search for files or folders by specifying size, extensions, time of creation, and/or time when it was last modified or was accessed. There is also an ability to exclude specific folders or file extensions from being scanned by the utility.

SearchMyFiles is portable, allowing users to run it without installation or to copy it on a USB drive and launch a search from there.

One of the major drawbacks of the tool is its large number of options which, though very useful for experienced users, may be a bit too much for the novice. Indeed when you first launch the program you are prompted with a search settings screen that is very overwhelming. (Hint: set your “Base Folders” your C:/ directory, if that is what you want to search, and use the “Files Wildcard” field to type in the file names you want to find. You will need to use the * wildcard after file names if you don’t type in file extensions or the full file name.) Another drawback is, while SearchMyFiles is fast, it isn’t as quick as other desktop search tools, such as Everything. SearchMyFiles doesn’t appear to create an index, which is why it isn’t as fast as rival software.

Conclusion and download link

There is no question that SearchMyFiles is one of the best free desktop search utilities available on the net. With its large number of search options, and its ability to be launched from a portable device, SearchMyFiles is an essential tool for those who are not happy with other desktop search tools, such as Windows 7’s built-in search function.

Price: Free

Version reviewed: v2.30

Supported OS: Windows 2000/XP/2003/Vista/Server 2008/7

Download size: 93KB

VirusTotal malware scan results: 0/44

Portability: No installation required

SearchMyFiles homepage

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29 comments

  1. Eric989

    @RobCr: Probably more than just 50 pieces. All that flashgot media (the firefox extension) can get is an endless stream of approx 800kb files and I don’t think they even play.
    Thanks for the suggestion. I can’t try it out now as that particular video won’t even load or start to play on my slow connection. I have to go to town and be on wifi to deal with it at all. It keeps giving me an error at home but all other Youtube vids work.
    P.S. We are talking about you on another page if you are unaware.
    http://dottech.org/84396/did-john-f-kennedy-own-a-globe-comic/

  2. RobCr

    @Eric989:
    Does ‘chunked’ mean it is broken into approx 50 pieces ?
    I knew that I would be floundering around to finally download the TV show my friend wanted, so I imaged my drive (on one of my ‘2nd PCs’), knowing that I could discard everything, and go back to the image from Friday.
    I still have the OS with all my floundering. I opened up your link and started it playing.
    One of my software (‘Add In’) attempts, was showing a blue arrow, and was willing to download all of the pieces. I interrupted those downloads, as I am not sure what I would then do with the pieces ? ? That Add In is called FlashVideoDownloader YouTube Downloader 3.7.3
    .
    The solution that I finally used for the TV show (everything else failed), was the Pro version of Apowersoft VideoDownloadCapture
    http://www.apowersoft.com/video-download-capture.html
    The Trial is fully functional for 3 days.
    I fired it up, and it started listing all the bits of the video, and I suspect all the other videos on that page.

    I will leave it to you to make sense of all those bits, as I am mentally exhausted from all my attempts to get the TV show for my friend.

    Hope this helps,
    Rob

  3. Eric989

    @RobCr: Sorry for the delay, I overlooked this comment.
    Astrogrep is not command line, it is a normal gui application and should be easy for anyone to use. I really don’t know anything about the original grep. Never even heard of it until I saw this program. Let me know if you figure out how to search in .doc and .txt but exclude the other kinds of documents. It appears you can search in all documents or just one type but there is no middle ground, searching is some types but not others.
    Wingrep has strange licensing. As far as I can tell it is fully functional and will never stop working but they trust you to pay them after 30 days. Interesting.
    I don’t know the extent of your video downloading experimentation but let me know if you find anything that can download the following video. It is in a chunked format and nothing can deal with it other than just recording the screen.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ij3sgRG5sPY

  4. RobCr

    @Eric989:
    Thanks,
    Will check it out later. I have downloaded it, but I am frightened to run any searches.
    I promised a friend that I would download a local TV show for him (piano recital), and I am getting another PC up to scratch, so as to experiment with some video downloading programs. I only have 2 days left so I don’t wish to risk stuffing my main PC, which has crashed a couple of times in the last 2 weeks.
    I was never a DOS man (though fumbled with it a couple of times out of necessity), and my Command Line instructions ain’t great.
    Does this have a normal Windows interface (AKA Idiot proof) ?
    I saw mention of a windows version of grep, which is why I raise the above.
    Here is a link to –
    Windows Grep – search tool for Windows
    http://www.wingrep.com/
    What are your thoughts on that ?
    OOPS may not have a free version

  5. Eric989

    I actually just found Astrogrep which is used to search within files of several types like txt doc docx html and others. It is tiny, portable, fast, and does not index. It is moderately advanced as far as options and supports regular expressions. It has a built in preview pane to see the results within the documents and even shows the results within their contexts(ie. lines above and below). It also shows line numbers to help you navigate to the result if you open the document. I am really impressed with this program but note that it can only search within documents and is not for searching for file names.
    http://astrogrep.sourceforge.net/
    http://www.softpedia.com/get/System/File-Management/AstroGrep.shtml

  6. RobCr

    @Eric989:
    Sorry for delay. My PC froze again. Scared the hades out of me. I let it cool down. Then managed to get into Safe mode to rollback to a Restore Point. I then took 4 hours to image the drive, and Verify the image.
    I have never used a cataloger. I was curious as to why Fredy was not using Everything. I Googled Cathy, and then suspected that Fredy had cataloging needs. Thus I posted the link to Gizmo’s Best catalogers.
    Regarding the fastest non pre-indexed Search program. I am suspecting XYPlorer is the fastest. However I am too frightened to repeat my comparison tests between Agent Ransack, Locate32, and XYPlorer. The reason that I am frightened, is I had been doing those searches just prior to my PC freezing.
    (I have half a million files, and one of those searches was hitting 7 Billion I/O’s in Task Manager.)

  7. Eric989

    @RobCr: Do you have a preferred disk cataloger? i have yet to find one that does everything I want. Right now I use a combination of Cathy, Virtual Volumes View Portable, and a Donation Coder program called ZeroZipper.
    Nice find with Locate32. It’s great at searching within files and will probably be even greater once I get it set up right. There must be a million options.

  8. RobCr

    @FredySmith:
    I agree with Eric, if you just need to search for File Names, use Everything.
    If you need more features like Cathy has, then here are some extra choices –
    Best Free File or Disk Catalog Organizer
    http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/best-free-file-disk-catalog-organizer.htm

    For the rest of us, wishing to search within files, here is review of some programs –
    Best Free Desktop Search Utility
    http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-desktop-search-utility.htm
    The review put me off from using Copernic, and Google’s
    I checked out Agent Ransack. If any of you have smallish number of files, it may be worth checking out. If any of you have half a million files (like me), it takes well over an hour to do a search.
    I have just tried Locate32. It is portable. It does Index, but it only took minutes.
    It does not have to be running all the time (Like Copernic, and Google).
    I ‘moved’ the Data Base to a sub folder under the portable folder that I created for Locate32. That way I can keep an eye on the size of the DB (27 MB). I haven’t tried a search yet, but I will start one now.

  9. Eric989

    @FredySmith: What’s wrong with Everything? It is does searches in real time unless it doesn’t work because it does not support your drive’s formatting or you want to be able to search drives that are offline like Cathy can.
    I only use Cathy to search for offline files as it is a file and folder cataloger. It’s great for finding what file is on what DVD, but I would never have considered it for a general search program.

  10. FredySmith

    I generally prefer to index my files/folders so I can easily do a very fast search. I’ve been using an old program called ‘Cathy’. It’s very simple to use. However it’s no longer being updated. Unfortunately ‘Cathy’ does not have a scheduler so I have to manually update the index every so often.

    Does anyone know of a ‘simple and fast’ desktop search program that makes an index AND has a scheduler to make an index daily or weekly etc. Searching inside text files is not important to me.

    Cheers,

  11. jivadas

    I’ve used Google Desktop for many years. It creates a google index of all your files, so you can search for any word or phrase; and of course locating a file is easily done by typing its name. Frequently used files appear at the top of the list after typing a letter or two.
    Although google does not support this service any more, it still works, and can be downloaded at
    http://download.cnet.com/Google-Desktop/3001-2379_4-10328117.html?spi=8e17f5b3637730c82707692374fcc039

    xØx
    jd

  12. Eric989

    @Janet: I hate it when programs hide stuff like that. These columns should be selectable in the options. After I turned off my computer I actually thought that I should have clicked on the columns. I never really needed any columns other than the default. I had just noticed you mentioned date created and didn’t immediately see a way to add that column. Thanks for pointing this out.
    But other programs can sort large numbers of files instantly and Everything can’t. It can handle maybe 1000 or so but their is a delay with 10000 or so. For example SuperFinderXT sorts much faster but the initial search is not nearly as fast. It just seems Everything’s sorting could have been optimized a little more.
    A specific example of this: I searched a folder for all jpg’s SFXT took 13 seconds on initial search then all sorting was instantaneous. Everything’s initial search was instant but sorting took 2 or 3 seconds. After the initial sort, all further sorting by different columns is instant. I just wish Everything could do this in the background so the first sort is instant as well.

  13. Janet

    @Eric989:

    You can choose what columns you want showing (choice of nine) by r-clicking on the ‘columns bar’ (i.e., where it says Name, Path, Date Modified, etc.). You can do this in most programs.

    Sorting has to a) dig deeper, and b) move files after finding them. You can sort the results by date AFTER your preliminary search. It’s instant (unless you had it bring up something like ALL JPGS…:-)…..

  14. Eric989

    @Janet: That’s a different approach but probably just as good or even better, but I don’t see a column for date created only date modified.
    Also, for all that Everything can do instantly, I never really understood why it sucks so much at sorting. It can instantly search through a million files but takes several seconds to sort a thousand. It is like there is some unwritten rule that there can never be a perfect software program. They always have to mess something up.
    @RobCr: You did alright in the first paragraph of the previous post. I don’t know of a way to get a new line other than enter. It just happens automatically with word wrap. Maybe you need to enable word wrap in EditPadLite or something.
    +1 on EditPadLite by the way. I have been using it for a month or so now as it is the only notepad that does everything I want.

  15. RobCr

    I don’t know if my spaced out posts are irritating you people, but it is irritating me. Whilst awaiting an answer to my above post (QUESTION: How to get a new line without pressing Enter), I will do a wee experiment. I will try typing this in Notepad, instead of my EditPadLite. Here Goes the experiment.

    This should be a new paragraph (one blank Line above).
    This should be a new line (NO blank line above).
    This should be a new line (NO blank line above).

    If the above does not work, could someone tell me why I am the only one having this problem ?
    IE What am I doing wrong ?

    Rob
    PS I am reasonably sure that I have had that spaced out problem, when I type Directly into Ashraf’s Editor ? ?
    However this test is being pasted into Ashraf’s Editor.

    PPS When I pasted it into Ashraf’s editor, it looked correct, yet once again this post is getting too many extra blank lines. HELP ME SOMEONE

  16. RobCr

    Eric,
    I am a ‘Supporter’ of their site, so I found I have previously downloaded and Installed (COUGH! Portable) the Supporters version of Superfinder XT
    I have never done a search with it (TCH! TCH!).
    .
    “As to your other question, every time you hit enter it inserts a blank line although the preview never shows this blank line.”
    Hitting Enter is how I tell it to go to a new line.
    Is there a way to get a new line without hitting Enter ?
    .
    “Also, do you not use Everything? Doesn’t Everything create an index?”
    I believe that Everything does not pre-build an Index.
    When you first start it (in any new windows session), it plays with itself for a wee while.
    I think it is building an Index. Then you can do your filtering/searching.
    If you turn off your PC, and start Everything again, it has to build a fresh Index.
    I can live with that. What I don’t like is something running in the background, constantly building/updating an Index.
    XYPlorerFree (which I have praised many times on DotTech), has a brilliant Search.
    You open a Tab, and position your focus on a Folder, in the Tree on the Left.
    Then you press F12 to show the Search Panel.
    It has all sorts of Filtering choices, and does search within Files.
    Use F12 to hide Search panel.
    It does not pre-build any index, so it is not lightning fast.
    I have years of files, so one would expect it to take hours.
    But it only takes minutes.
    .
    Mr Dave,
    Good on you for treating Windows Search with the contempt it deserves.
    The other thing you should do is go to Properties for all of your drives (even external ones), and untick “Allow Indexing Service to Index …”
    .
    jayesstee,
    Everything cannot search within Files. Copernic can.
    I of course use Everything, when I am only searching for File Names.
    .
    permafrost,
    I appreciate when we give each other a ‘heads up on other programs.
    We should however mention whether they can search within Files ?

  17. Eric989

    Upon taking a second look at SuperFinderXT, it was not quite as good as I remembered. It is rather slow at system wide searches but can handle searching folders or groups of folders well. I remember now that I quit using it when I discovered that Everything can be integrated into the right click context menu to search only within that folder. SuperFinderXT’s only advantages are searching within files and advanced search options like only searching for files in a particular date range.
    @RobCr: I don’t have a comprehensive list of what SuperFinderXT can search in but here is what I found. It can search within .doc txt ppt xml html rtf. It cannot search within odt odf docx pdf.
    As to your other question, every time you hit enter it inserts a blank line although the preview never shows this blank line.
    Also, do you not use Everything? Doesn’t Everything create an index?

  18. Mr.Dave

    I use Everything a lot, it’s never let me down. I did not know it allowed | as an OR operator or that RegEx could be used or that you can exclude filenames with specified text. Thanks, Vinay, for helping me take another look at this great program!

    Very nice to know there’s a portable version I can use at work (Thanks RobCr!). We use Win 7 at work, and I’ve demonstrated to our IT department that searching files with Windows Explorer does NOT find all matching files. For example, I had two versions of a price list that were different at the end of the file name (one ended with ” – new” or something like that. Windows could only find the older file. They were in the same folder, and could both be seen if you don’t use search, and you sort the folder alphabetically. I have stopped using Windows search and have warned others.

  19. RobCr

    I am not a fan of Search programs creating indexes, so I have hesitated from installing this.
    However if the need arises for a comprehensive search, I intend to give it a try –
    Some of you DotTechies, might be impressed with what it can do.
    And it is free for home use.
    Copernic Desktop Search
    http://www.copernic.com/en/products/desktop-search/cds-compare.html

    Rob
    PS The bane of my life, are Search engines that return what they like, instead of what I ask for.
    Copernic has a free web search program, that utilizes other search engines (including Google), but appears to obey orders (searches for what I ask for).
    It is called ‘Copernic Agent’, and it too is free.

  20. Zapped Sparky

    If you’re just looking for a simple folder/filename search I’d go with Everything: http://voidtools.com/ It creates an index and has some options for searching such as boolean operators, wildcards and regex for the more advanced but I’ve never used them.

    Downsides, it’s not portable and it can’t search inside file contents. But, if you’re still using windows to search just give it a try, you’ll wonder how could windows be so bloody slow :)

  21. RobCr

    I don’t believe you mentioned whether it creates an Index.
    In fact I don’t think Nir mentions that either.
    I suspect that it does not create an Index, which is the way I prefer to live.

    I dont believe you mentioned which file types it can search within for text.
    In fact I don’t think Nir mentions that either.

    Since it is portable (No install), I will add it to my collection.

    Thanks,
    Rob

    PS Am I the only one having trouble with line spacing, in our posts here ?
    I carefully decide whether to have blank lines, or not, and my wishes get totally ignored.

    Eric,
    Which types of files can SuperFinderXT search within for text ?

  22. Eric

    Another option is SuperFinderXT. I think it is easier to use. It can search within text files and is very fast, although not as fast as Everything but it sorts much faster than Everything. The free version has some minor limitations but I can’t remember what they are except that you have to pay for the portable version. It is a pay what you want pricing scheme to get access to full versions of all their programs. I believe the free version is very functional on its own, though. You can find it here.
    http://fsl.sytes.net/ssearchxt.html