If you're looking for a more flexible desktop search tool than what's built in with your platform, see what DocFetcher has to offer.
No matter what platform you run, desktop search is crucial. Even if you're obsessive about organization, files are going to wind up missing — when they do, you need to be able to locate them. Some platforms don't have powerful search tools. In that case, you need to add on a third-party tool to improve desktop search. One such tool is DocFetcher, and it's as easy to use as it is powerful.
- Available for Windows, Linux, and Mac
- Portable version
- 64-bit support
- Unicode support
- Archive support
- Search source code
- Search Outlook PST files
- Detection of HTML pairs
- Regex-based exclusion rules
- Mime-type detection
- Powerful search query syntax
- Numerous document formats supported
- Create specific indexes used for searching
I'll describe how to install and use DocFetcher on a Windows 7 machine.
Before installing DocFetcher, you must install Java. If you haven't already installed that dependencies, hop on over to the Java site and download the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) for your machine. The installation of Java is as simple as downloading the .exe, double-clicking the downloaded file, and walking through the easy to use install wizard.
Now download the DocFetcher installer, double-click the downloaded file, and walk through the wizard.
Setting up DocFetcher
When you open DocFetcher, it will look like it's ready to start searching your desktop (Figure A), but it's not. Before it can search your folders and files, you must create an index. You can define where the index is so if you want to index only your Documents (or My Documents) folder, you can do just that. You can also dictate the file types that are indexed.
The DocFetcher main window
To set up your index(es), follow these steps:
- Open DocFetcher.
- Right-click the lower-left pane in the main window.
- Go to Create Index From | Folder and browse to the folder you want to include.
- Click OK.
- In the resulting window, click the "..." button associated with the Plain text file extension.
- From the pop-up window, select the file extensions you want to include — these are types outside the built-in supported file types (Figure B).
- Click OK.
- Add any type of archive extensions.
- Click Run.
Select from the file type listing to include non-standard files in your index.
If you want to add excludes, click the "+" button in the Exclude files section and then create the regular expression to be used for the exclude. You'll want to have at least a fundamental understanding of regular expressions to do this. You can use the pre-configured excludes as a guide. For example, say you want to exclude all Acronis .tib files from the search. To add that, the regular expression would be:
You would enter the above in the Pattern section and leave everything else as default.
Create as many indexes as you need to include in your search (you want to set up your indexes just one time, so create an index for every folder you want to search). Depending upon how many files and folders you're indexing, this process could take quite a while. When the indexing completes, the pop-up window will disappear.
In the top Search field, enter the string to be searched for and press the Search button. The results for the search string will appear in the upper-right pane. Click the specific entry you were searching for to get an instant preview in the bottom right pane (Figure C).
Previewing your search results in DocFetcher (See an enlarged view of the image.)
If you're looking for a powerful search tool and one that is far-more flexible than the built-in service, give DocFetcher a try and see if it doesn't become your go-to desktop search. Even though it does require a bit of work to use DocFetcher, the hoops you have to jump through are well worth the effort.