XP Search Companion – Annoyances

There are a number of reasons to be annoyed by the search built into Explorer. The chief problem is that it will not match files as expected. Many of these problems are handled by other search utilities such as Agent Ransack from http://www.mythicsoft.com


XP Indexer CPU Hog

Problem:        The indexer service runs in the background, is a CPU hog.

Problem:        If the indexer service is on, it will not find recently added files, and will report files that have been recently deleted.

Fix:              Disable indexing service. Find | Change Preferences.


XP Search CPU Hog

Problem:        The search continually refreshes, every time a file is folder is updated. Try leaving it running while moving a few hundred files. Performance is terrible.

Problem: When searching for text in a file, XP Search will not look in unregistered files. E.g. it will not find a word in *.bak file.
Fix: Use Agent Ransack or make a change to your registry.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00




XP File Name Match Criteria Is Unpredictable

Problem:  The “All or part of name” does not accept multiple criteria, e.g. *.vb, *.cs. Space separated words are treated as alternate patterns Examples:

Pattern         base ext

Matches        base ext

          ext base

          ext xxxx

          xxx base

Wild cards ? and * are treated per the original DOS rules. ‘?’ matches any single character. * matches 0 or more of any characters. ‘.’ only matches itself. ‘*’

These made sense when names were 8+3, but this is no longer true.

It is not clear how the card matching is done. Vb matches vb anywhere in the filename. *.vb looks like it might match only extensions, but it will match .vb.bak too.
Fix:              Agent Ransack allows regular expression and “DOS” wildcard searching on file names.


XP Content Match Criteria

Problem: The criteria for searching for text is limited, and inconsistent

Fix:     Agent Ransack offers string or Regular Expressions matching on content.


Matching Line Is Not Shown

Problem:        Search does not show what it matched in the file.
Fix:              Use Agent Ransack.

XP Search and Zip Files

Problem: Search will search inside of zip files, returning names that may be inaccessible. When a file within a zip files is returned by XP, it looks like a normal file, but most file operations fail, with no explanation.

Fix: Use Agent Ransack or unregister the zip file handler:

regsvr32 /u C:\WINDOWS\system32\zipfldr.dll

Note this also disables XP automatically browsing into zip folders, which I don’t like any way. If you need file compression, enable compression on the folder or volume.


See Also

Agent Ransack is a free search tool, which addresses these issues. http://www.mythicsoft.com/agentransack/download.aspx It includes wizards for building regular expressions. Can easily save and load search rules.


HandyRegistrySettingsInstaller allows you to set a number of simple and useful registry settings, includes and installer. (Tested on XP only.)


zipfolderoff.cmd  my utilities for not searching zip files:

regsvr32 -u %windir%\system32\zipfldr.dll



regsvr32 %windir%\system32\zipfldr.dll


Updated 2/24/2009 10:59:53 PM