How to change index settings to include encrypted files in Windows 10 searches

Windows 10 doesn't include encrypted files in its built-in search indexing process. A few tweaks to the configuration settings can fix that.

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To speed up a typical search for files and applications in Microsoft Windows 10, the operating system creates and stores a database of indexed results from the most common directories on your storage devices. This indexing process runs continuously in the background to keep the information fresh and up to date. When you conduct a search using the Cortana search box on your desktop, results from indexed directories will be found and presented almost immediately.

While this system works great for most searches, by default Windows 10 does not index encrypted directories or files. So, if you use encryption on a regular basis to protect data files, finding those files through the common search functions of Windows 10 will be inefficient at best and potentially a complete waste of time. However, with a tweak on the right configuration screen, the default settings can be changed to become more accommodating to encrypted files.

This tutorial shows you how to change default Windows 10 configuration settings to add encrypted files to the standard search indexing process.

SEE: 20 pro tips to make Windows 10 work the way you want (Tech Pro Research)

Add encrypted files to Windows 10 search indexing

To change the default value, we first must find the right configuration screen. Type "indexing options" into the Cortana search box on your Windows 10 desktop and click the result that refers to a Settings screen in the Control Panel (Figure A).

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Figure A

Click the Advanced button to reach the screen shown in Figure B. Click the radio button next to the Index encrypted files setting to change the default behavior of Windows 10.

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Figure B

Depending on how and where you store your encrypted files, you may also need to add new index location information to this configuration screen. Click the Select New button to see a list of potential locations (Figure C).

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Figure C

To finish the process, click OK and then click OK again to start the index rebuilding process, which could take several minutes. Close the Settings screen when you finish.

Note: It is not a good idea to add encrypted files to the search indexing process if you do not actually have encrypted files to index. While adding those files will not cause major problems, it does add overhead to the indexing process, decreasing performance efficiency.

To remove encrypted files from the Windows 10 search indexing process, just change the setting back to its default and rebuild the index.

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By Mark Kaelin

Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.