With Vista and Windows 7, Microsoft has been making some big strides in the quality of Windows’s native search. For regular, targeted searches (finding a file in your downloads folder, for instance), it does a great job of giving you near-real-time results. Unfortunately, that’s not always good enough.
Sometimes you know you’ve got a file, but you just can’t remember where you put it. That means you’ve got to resort to the dreaded Search Local Disk (C:), or even worse, Search Computer. It doesn’t take as long as it used to, but it can still take quite a while to find what you’re looking for. If you find yourself in this situation regularly, you need true instant search. You need Everything.
1. Install Everything
No, you don’t have to install everything on the whole Internet—just one program, which is confusingly named Everything. Everything is an indexed search app, which quickly creates an index of every file on your computer, and then allows you to search through all of them by name, instantly.
You can download Everything from the Void Tools homepage at www.voidtools.com. Just pick up the Windows installer executable and run it. During the installation you’ll be asked which components you want to install. The default options will work for most people, but if you’re the type to worry about context menu clutter, you might consider unchecking that option.
When you finish the installer, Everything will launch. You’re given another chance to review the options, but for now just click OK. At first, Everything will be blank, except for a search bar up top and the words “Scanning Drive C:” below. Give Everything a moment to index all the files in your system, and in a (surprisingly) short while, you’ll see a list of every single file on your whole PC (above). Go ahead, take a minute to try searching for something. We’ll give you some time to collect your jaw off the floor.
Hopefully by now you’ve recovered from the initial shock of completely instant search. Here are some tips for searching in Everything.
Use logical operators. The default if you type “foo bar” is to search for foo and bar. To search for foo or bar, use the pipe character (|). To search for foo and not bar, use the exclamation mark.
Use wildcards. You can use the asterisk or question mark character as a wildcard character.
Search in a single folder. To search for files in a folder, click Search in the navigation bar, and enable the Match Path option (above). Now, searches will also apply to the file path, in addition to the name.
3. Search Remotely
If you’d like to remotely search the contents of your home PC using Everything, that’s also simple. Just open the options menu and browse to the ETP/FTP tab, and set a username and a password (below). Also, note the ETP/FTP server port. If you only want to search, and not download files, you can uncheck the box that says “Allow FTP file download.”
If your home computer doesn’t have a static IP address, you’ll have to obtain one by using a free service like DynDNS.org and telling your router to reserve a subnet IP for your computer.
Now, on the remote computer, just start up Everything and click Tools > Connect to ETP server and enter the same information as before, including your IP address. Now you should be able to use Everything just as you normally would, to search through your home computer’s files. If you didn’t uncheck the box, Everything will also act as an FTP server, so you can download any files you need.