• Why can’t search just search?

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    PATCH WATCH By Susan Bradley Microsoft introduces “search highlights,” another feature we probably don’t want and didn’t ask for. In the April cumulat
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    Susan Bradley Patch Lady/Prudent patcher

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    • #2436637

      Why new features and not fix old problems? Easy. New features sell – fixing bugs doesn’t. Being Windows – the ‘sell’ argument doesn’t apply, so….. Let me guess, the ‘highlight’ feature uses Bing?

      Aside. With the shift to rent instead of buying software, the incentive to add new features has gone. Fixing problems isn’t very urgent as well – subscriptions mean a steady income, so why bother…

      2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #2436680

      One feature of Search that I used to use, but so far as I can see has been removed in a previous “improvement” is the ability to search for documents by date. There are numerous occasions when I know I drafted something this morning, yesterday, or last week, but can’t remember what I called it or where I (or Windows) put it, and search by date would find it for me.
      Is it still there but well hidden, or is there an add-on or replacement for Search to restore this feature?

      • #2436780

        This is one thing that has absolutely infuriated me about Win10 for some time now.  I forget exactly when this was broken, but I believe the drop-down calendar interface for selecting a date range to search in disappeared in 1909.

        You can still search by date modified, but the clickable options in the window are limited to specific options like “Today”, “Yesterday”, “Last Week”, etc, which may or may not be helpful.

        To search within specific dates, you have to manually type in the date range to search in, using a specific syntax.

        If you want to search for files modified on a specific day, type the following in the search box:

        If you want between two dates, use:
        datemodified:mm/dd/yyyy .. mm/dd/yyyy

        I have no idea why this was removed.  The old pop-up calendar to select date ranges was orders of magnitude more intuitive.


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        • #2436801

          You can still search by date modified, but the clickable options in the window are limited to specific options like “Today”, “Yesterday”, “Last Week”, etc, which may or may not be helpful.

          For specific options like “Today”, “Yesterday”, etc, in the File Explorer > Home tab, you can put your cursor on the left in the Navigation Panel on ‘Quick Access’ (or a folder), type ‘date modified’ in the File Explorer search box in the upper right, and click return. Then, the File Explorer Ribbon will change to show a ‘Date modified’ icon with a drop-down menu, from which you can select an option.

    • #2436769

      Henry asked:

      “In your article today (4/4/22), you mentioned that you see that the search index is too big—at least that’s what I think you are saying.  My questions are, where is this info located?  Is there a file that we should be looking for?  And how big is too big?  Should we delete the file altogether or just tell Windows to reindex the drive(s)?”

      My answer:

      C:\ProgramData\Microsoft is where the indexing file is located.

      The typical symptom is that all of a sudden I don’t have much room left on my C drive. I’ll use Treesize free and go AH HA it’s the indexing file
      I have Windows reindex it.

      Susan Bradley Patch Lady/Prudent patcher

    • #2436777

      This often happens when I begin to wonder what happened to the free space on my C: drive, so I dig into the details using TreeSize Free or similar tools. … Then I discover that this search is taking up way too much space on the hard drive.

      I use TreeSize. Just where is the location in TreeSize that indicates how much space a search in taking up?

      I see that you’ve said: C:\ProgramData\Microsoft But, where beyond that to find the indexing file?

    • #2436781

      My answer:

      C:\ProgramData\Microsoft is where the indexing file is located.

      On my 21H2 C:\ProgramData\Microsoft has 1453 files 325MB. Hardly big size.

    • #2436791

      To some degree, I think this is yet another place where Microsoft is trying too hard to be “helpful”, of pushing us into their vision of how we should work, rather than facilitating what we’re actually doing. And yes, part of that is in Microsoft pushing us into their services, and where too often, changes are made for what benefits them (especially their focus  on Enterprise customers) rather than individual users (especially in the SMB or SOHO sectors).

      As a general thing, I find Microsoft’s search capacities to be mostly unusable, particularly because it’s nearly impossible to easily control the search parameters. However, I’ve found a couple of case-specific exceptions.  One is within the Explorer, of being able to use the search tool to find a file in a sub-folder, although the value of that is somewhat offset by the default results format that can’t be changed permanently without resorting to a registry adjustment.

      I also find for various setup and configuration things, search works very well to find things quickly, and often, a lot faster than trying to navigate the Setup tool (and the Control Panel) to try to find specific settings.  I’ve also found that for writing user-focused documentation, it usually takes a lot less wording to tell a user to press the Logo key, then enter whatever it is that needs to be adjusted, and then select the first (or rarely, the second) result, than it does of trying to describe all the details of navigating a GUI, including drop-downs, tabs, buttons, etc., including accounting for redesigned layouts. I really think this is part of why Microsoft has let the Control Panel and related tools atrophy so much, because if you get used to it, searching is often faster and more effective.

      I fully agree that I don’t want any connection between local searching and the Internet, but Microsoft’s cloud-focused approach seems to demand that the two are merged (and mostly indistinguishable).

      In the meantime, for local and LAN searching, I agree that a third-party search utility is necessary.  Personally, I like the version of AgentRansack (also distributed as File Locator), and where my use case fits to use the unpaid version.  AgentRansack works well, and is quite flexible in allowing for tuning of search params, including inclusion and exclusion of locations, names, date ranges, file content, etc., as well as Boolean, regular expression and wildcard searches. If I’m setting up a new machine that connects to my LAN (including virtual machines), AgentRansack is usually at the top of my list of things I install, sometimes even before Mozilla Firefox.

      Ultimately, with a search tool that I control, I get results for what *I* am looking for, and I don’t get a “would you like fries with that?” suggestions of stuff that I’m not looking for.

      2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #2436815

      In the Newsletter, you mention two options for turning off ‘Search Highlights’, once the April CU is installed.
      Is there a 3rd option with Win10/Pro, in this case, setting it under Group Policy? Where is it there?

      • #2436828

        See Group configuration: search highlights in Windows

        (Linked from the same paragraph in the newsletter.)

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2436846

          My bad. I’m going to have to pay attention to links more carefully. In addition, even though I am not a business user, I should NOT have skipped over that section, because the GP location is stated right there IN BOLD.

          …use the Group Policy Editor to locate Edit group policy > Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Search > Allow search highlights. If you set it to Enabled or Not Configured, you will get external search content. If you set it to Disabled, the content will be blocked.

          I now recall having read something like this before for using GP to stop some new feature from occurring. It was for NEWS AND INTEREST — same strategy to get these ‘shiny things’ to stop.

          1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2436806

      IMHO everyone should be using David Carpenter’s Everything search, which takes a database approach to names, and will autocomplete a file or folder name search. It also has some other nice features. It does local search only.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2436870

        I use this also and it performs admirably. Yes, it only does a local search but it will effectively search all attached drives. For the web, I use DuckDuckGo. Oh yes, Everything is free.

      • #2436872

        IMHO everyone should be using David Carpenter’s Everything search

        Blazing fast for finding file names! One big problem – it needs Admin permissions.

      • #2437258

        Everything has been the only local search program one needs since …..a long time ago.

        Even the least technically proficient find it easy to use – “” just click the red magnifying glass””

        1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2437011

      When busy trying to fix a problem, I ran Nirsoft CurrPorts to see what network connections a particular application makes. It also listed SearchApp, contacting Did a lookup:

      On this page, you can find all the information we have gathered on public IP address, which is owned by Microsoft Azure.


      Websites hosted on this IP address

      Windows 10 20H2

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2437233

      FWIW I spent the last couple of hours trying to get a powershell program to work to demonstrate the effectiveness of NirSoft’s SearchMyFiles program. I wanted to be able to eliminate the user interaction and have the computer do the timing for accurate results.

      Needless to say, it didn’t want to work the way it should have! I finally posted a query on another site that’s more programming oriented and found a solution but not an answer as to why it didn’t work the straight forward way it should. If you’re interested you can check here.

      But back to the issue of searching. As stated I use NirSoft’s SearchMyFiles program (free) for a couple of reasons:

      1. It doesn’t require indexing (I have Windows Search turned OFF)
      2. It can search for both Files and File Contents!
      3. It’s completely configurable for almost any search requirements.
      4. Last but not least it’s FAST!

      Here are the results from my searching my whole documents folder tree using these parameters:

      • *.doc?
      • Contains my first name


      Total Files in Directory Tree:       012,640
      Total files matching pattern :       001,252
      Total MB in files searched for text: 000,419
      Time to search time (milliseconds): 4739.4057


      So here’s the PowerShell script in case any of you want to test it out for your self.

        $ExecutionPath = "G:\BEKDocs\NonInstPrograms\NirSoftx64"
        $PgmName       = "Searchmyfiles.exe"
        $RunCmd        = Join-Path -Path "$ExecutionPath" -ChildPath "$PgmName"
        $Env:Config    = "G:\BEKDocs\TestSMF.cfg"
        $Env:SText     = "G:\BEKDocs\TestSMF.txt"
       If (Test-Path   -Path $($Env:SText)) {
           Remove-Item -Path $($Env:SText) }
      $SearchTime = Measure-Command -Expression {
        & $Runcmd --% /config %Config% /StartSearch /ExplorerCopy /stext %SText%
        Do {
        } Until (Test-Path -Path $($Env:SText))
      $GCIArgs = @{Path    = "G:\BEKDocs"
                   File    = $True
                   Recurse = $True
      $TotalFiles = (Get-ChildItem @GCIArgs).Count
      $DocFiles   = (Get-ChildItem @GCIArgs -Filter "*.Doc?")
      $TotalBytes = 0
      ForEach ($File in $DocFiles) {$TotalBytes += $($File.Length)}
      "Total Files in Directory Tree:       {0:000,###}" -f $TotalFiles
      "Total files matching pattern :       {0:000,###}" -f $($DocFiles).Count
      "Total MB in files searched for text: {0:000,###}" -f ($TotalBytes / 1mb)
      "Time to search time (milliseconds): " +

      Of course you’ll have to change some of the code and save a configuration file from the GUI version of SearchMyFiles.

      May the Forces of good computing be with you!


      PowerShell & VBA Rule!
      Computer Specs

      • #2437486

        Like you, I’ve been a SearchMyFiles fan for years. Everything you have stated is true and I also highly recommend it.

    • #2437497

      For those that want to try “SearchMyFiles” you can download it direct from Nir’s website here:

      Search My Files Download

      It’s free and it’s a stand-alone (portable) application. No installer.

      Nir’s a great guy by the way. I always get a chuckle over the never ending battle with AV vendors that still flag his popular ProduKey application as a PUP (it’s not a virus or PUP). Nor is his Product Key Scanner app.

    • #2437589

      “search highlights,” another feature we probably don’t want and didn’t ask for

      By July 2020 I’d faintly heard from a distance Windows’ Search screaming and begging for help. But I ignored it and callously let it drown.

      You see, I had just discovered SwiftSearch, as recommended by Deanna McElveen.
      Ever since then I’ve used DuckDuckGo for a panorama and SwiftSearch for FTL local searches.

      P.S. SwiftSearch 64bit is at version 7.5.1 since Jan 12, 2022.

      1 Desktop Win 11
      1 Laptop Win 10
      Both tweaked to look, behave and feel like Windows 95
      (except for the marine blue desktop, rgb(0, 3, 98)
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