Windows XP Search

I have long been frustrated by the Search capabilities of Windows XP. In particular I hate the multitude of hidden options, that stupid dog, so reminiscent of the hated paper clip, and most of all it’s seeming inability to search for something I know exists. The latter problem is exacerbated when trying to find text within a file. I have resorted in the past to opening each file by hand to find something that I know exists but Windows Search tells me is not there.
Today I decided enough was enough and did a search on a proper search engine (Google) in order to find the answer. The good news is that there is an explanation for this behaviour and the solution provided really does work. It seems that Windows has a list of files that it can be bothered to look inside to find a piece of text and if your file type happens to not be on this list then Windows won’t bother checking it. Oh and it won’t bother to tell you that it has done it either, just tell you that no files match your search criteria.

Is it just me of does this just seem crazy? Microsoft have taken the trouble to dumb down the interface to make it user friendly enough so my parents can use it and for that added comfy touch have added a cuddly dog. Then they don’t bother to search every file and don’t bother to say so – not so user friendly now are you!

And the fix for this problem, so neatly described by Microsoft themselves as ‘Using the “A word or phrase in the file” search criterion may not work’, is no user friendly fix either. The knowledge base article includes a huge long list of file types that this might affect but didn’t include mine (PHP) and then suggests hacking the registry to get the coverage you need. Then, at the bottom of the article, are seven steps to turning off this functionality completely and have it search within every file – brilliant! Now why isn’t that the default?

If you want to put yourself out of search misery then you can find details of the Windows Search fix here or, alternatively, you could just skip Windows Search completely and install Google Desktop

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