Windows Search Alternative? Why do you need a separate tool to search your windows desktop when you already have something inbuilt? The reason is default windows search doesn’t live up to its expectations.

When you want to search for files and folders in your drives, the inbuilt windows search takes all the time in the world to fetch what you want.

What good is information, if you can’t have access to it at the right time?

Though you can still mend and improve the default windows search by tweaking some settings, it looks like no one is interested to invest their time on that.

The five windows search alternatives listed here are lightweight, swift and powerful search companions that are crucial for every windows user.


Everything Windows Search Alternative

  • Everything is lightweight and the fastest file search tool that I have ever seen. It helps you to locate files (just files and not content) that match your search string.
  • Both the installer (334 KB) and the portable version (272 KB) is available for both x86 and x64 machines.
  • Everything builds its database in Everything.db file within minutes and is stored in the same location from where you run the executable. The interesting part is, the database file size is just 2.62 MB for my 300GB hard disk.
  • Everything locates the files spontaneously as and when you are typing in the search bar, so no find button :-)
  • It supports Regex too, it is disabled by default and you can enable it from the Search Menu.

Agent Ransack

Agent Ransack Windows Search Alternative

  • Agent Ransack comes only as an Installer (13MB)
  • You can start searching for files and content as soon you complete the installation, no prior indexing of drives required.
  • You can right click on any folder to launch Agent Ransack.
  • Supports Regular Expression based search, you can also test your regular expressions using the inbuilt Regular Expression Tester found under Tools Menu.
  • You can also export the search results to clipboard, TXT  or CSV file.

Index Your Files

Index Your Files Windows Search Alternative

  • Index Your Files is a Java based tool that comes both in installer (1.5 MB) and portable (977 KB) version.
  • As the name says you first have to index your drives before you can start searching.
  • The indexing is super-fast. To give you an example, it just took 1 minute and 10 seconds to index one of my drives whose size is 91 GB containing 109,155 items :-)
  • You can search both the content and the files using Index Your Files. You search MP3 files by Artist, Album or Genre and Camera Image files using properties like Brand, Model, Focal Length, Exposure, etc.
  • The preview window helps you to read files or play audio and video files that you get in your search results.
  • You can export your search results as .CSV file which captures details like Name of the file, complete path of the file, size of the file, etc.

Do not forget to watch the awesome flash demonstration on the website.


AstroGrep Windows Search Alternative

  • AstroGrep is a lightweight grep tool that is ported from Visual Basic 6 and is currently being developed using Microsoft C#.NET.
  • AstroGrep comes only in portable version (115 KB).
  • Use the Search Options like Search Subfolders, Modified Timestamp, File Size, Skip hidden files, etc. to effectively perform a faster and granular search.
  • The results that match your search are highlighted and shown in the preview window.
  • You can export the results of the search to TXT, HTML, XML or JSON format using the Save Results (CTRL + S) option from the File Menu.
  • Some features like searching PDF documents, mp3 tags, archived files, etc. are not yet available and is in the upcoming feature list.


Locate32 Windows Search

  • Locate32 is a portable (1.26 MB) windows search tool available for both 32bit and 64bit operating systems.
  • You need to update the database (index) first before you can start searching. You can launch the locate32.exe and update the database from the File Menu (F9) or you can directly run the Updtdb32.exe.
  • The database file size for my 300 GB hard disk is around 30 MB.
  • Locate32 allows you to filter your searches using file extensions, size, date and other options.
  • Feel free to play around the massive options that are available in Advanced Tab under Settings.
  • You can also define your own shortcuts in Keyboard Shortcuts under Settings.
  • You can also export and import Locate32 settings using the Settings Backup tool under Tools Menu.
  • You can save the search results to an external file.

Bonus: Windows Command Prompt

You can also use FINDSTR command to find the files that has your content. For example the below command will actually look for the word articpost in all the text files.

findstr /s /m articpost *.txt

Use FINDSTR command to perform search

Interested in more command prompt tricks? Head over to my article on Unknown Command Prompt Tricks.

Other Windows Search Tools

I tried the below search tools too but they weren’t that effective as the above ones, try them and let me know if it works well for you.


  • DocFetcher requires Java Runtime Environment (JRE) version 1.6.0 or later on your machine to work and is available for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X operating systems.
  • The Installer size is 35 MB and the portable version is 41 MB.
  • When you run DocFetcher for the first time the Search Scope window will be empty which means you have to create an index first to start searching. Right click on the Search Scope window, select Create Index From and select the folder or drive you want to index. You can also choose an outlook PST and index it.
  • The problem with DocFetcher is that it takes a lot of time to index. Despite changing the redefined Xmx512m to 1024m in the file, it really took lot of time for just a folder size of 1.7 GB.
  • DocFetcher needs a lot of RAM. So why does it require so much RAM?

One part of the answer is that it’s a Java program. The other part is that you’re feeding it with huge amounts of data.



Puggle windows search utility

  • Puggle comes both in installer (38 MB) and portable version (15 MB).
  • Puggle requires Java Runtime Environment (JRE) version 6 or later on your machine to work.
  • You have to place the application file separately in each drive to index.
  • It takes a long time to index your drives.
  • Puggle places its index database under .puggle folder for each drive it indexes. If you use a portable version then you have to remove these files manually.

Do you know that you can also access your programs in your desktop faster? Want to know how to do it? Head over to 3 must have program launchers for windows article.

How important is the search feature for you? What search tool do you use?