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Windows 7: Search file names only


24 Nov 2009   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
 
 
Search file names only

In Vista and Windows 7 beta, under folder options | Search | what to search, there was an option called "search file names only". It's not there in the final Windows 7.

Is there a global or per-drive option to only index file names, not contents?

The reason is obvious: it would be a lot faster. For many users, filename indexing only is sufficient.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
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24 Nov 2009   #2

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1
 
 

Since indexing is done behind the scenes, and contents and file names are indexed, there should be no speed difference for the end user. In non-indexed locations, only file names are searched. That's why there is no longer the "search file names only" selection.

You can search by just about whatever you want, using search filters. If you want to search by name, just go to the search box and use the name: filter, like this:

name:epson

Default filters change, depending on the folder you are inside at the time. If you are in a pictures directory, the filters that pop up will be different than those if you are inside a standard files directory.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Nov 2009   #3

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by kegobeer View Post
Since indexing is done behind the scenes, and contents and file names are indexed, there should be no speed difference for the end user. In non-indexed locations, only file names are searched. That's why there is no longer the "search file names only" selection...
Thanks for the detailed response. I accept on my 3.8Ghz quad-core machine with 8GB RAM, both indexing and searching of 600GB and 300,000 files is acceptably fast. That's despite many of those files being indexed for content, not just file names.

However -- Windows 7 help itself says:

"Question: Can I index my entire computer so all searches are fast?
Answer: You shouldn't do this. If you make the index too large, or if you include system file locations (such as the Program Files folder), your routine searches will slow down."

Yet -- simple 3rd party utilities like "Everything" can index the entire drive (filenames only) and search extremely fast -- much faster than Windows 7, even on my PC. I assume because they only index and search filenames, not content.

If a free 3rd party utility can index and search faster than Windows 7's expensively-developed search service, it seems logical Windows 7 should offer a global, per-drive or per-folder filename-only indexing option.

There are probably lots of people without leading-edge hardware who would like a fast, efficient, indexed full-drive filename search. Windows 7's search service has that capability, but it's not exposed for use. That seems illogical.
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24 Nov 2009   #4

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1
 
 

This third party application runs in the background and indexes all of your hard drives, and it doesn't impede the OS at all? I have my doubts that is really going on.

I agree with Microsoft - it's completely unnecessary to index an entire drive. System files, program applications, and other files don't need to be indexed at all. Index the files you use all the time - like email, downloads, pictures, etc.
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24 Nov 2009   #5

Windows 8.1 Pro (x64)
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by joema View Post
"Question: Can I index my entire computer so all searches are fast?
Answer: You shouldn't do this. If you make the index too large, or if you include system file locations (such as the Program Files folder), your routine searches will slow down."

Yet -- simple 3rd party utilities like "Everything" can index the entire drive (filenames only) and search extremely fast -- much faster than Windows 7, even on my PC. I assume because they only index and search filenames, not content.
You answered your own question. "I assume because they only index and search filenames, not content." There is more to searching then just filenames. For example some files contain metadata, JPEGs and MP3 for instance. Indexing the entire drive would make the index extremely large and in turn increase the time it takes to search though it. Something like "Search Everything" just has a list of filenames much easier to search but also less useful.

Also Indexing the entire drive includes at lot of useless files and data which just adds to the false positives ratio.
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24 Nov 2009   #6

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by kegobeer View Post
This third party application runs in the background and indexes all of your hard drives, and it doesn't impede the OS at all? I have my doubts that is really going on...I agree with Microsoft - it's completely unnecessary to index an entire drive..
Yes. Search utilities like Everything index the entire drive within seconds, and search almost instantly.

The index is modest size and searching is incredibly fast. True it only indexes filenames, but that is all many users want or need.

There are perfectly valid reasons to index all filenames on a drive, INCLUDING program files and DLLs. Say you want to inspect how many versions of a VC runtime dll you have, etc.

Ironically, Windows Search is capable of doing that, and in fact does index filenames. Prior to the RTM version of Windows 7, the option existed to ONLY index filenames.

Whether to index filenames or content should be the USER's discretion. That was the case in Vista and the beta versions of Windows 7. I don't see why the option was removed in the RTM version.
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24 Nov 2009   #7

7 home premium 64 bit
 
 

You can still use wild cards like *.txt or filename.*
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Nov 2009   #8

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1
 
 

I disagree about what many/most users want or need. My opinion is that people want the ability to index based on a lot more than just a filename. I'd say the average user probably owns a digital camera. And, those pictures are probably imported using the Windows 7 import feature. Tagging each photo with a location, names of people in the photo, etc, means that photos can be found by looking for a specific name, location, etc. Documents are the same way - edit the metadata and later search by common terms. Why bother trying to remember a name of a document or photo when you can search for meta terms, or by what the document contains, or by when the photo was taken?

In contrast, many/most people don't need to find different versions of a particular runtime dll - I'd say that group is very tiny compared to the average computer user group. For those people, a third party search engine is appropriate.

I can't comment on why it was changed, because I don't know.
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25 Nov 2009   #9

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by kbz1960 View Post
You can still use wild cards like *.txt or filename.*
Yes, understood. However the problem isn't searching for only filenames. Rather to achieved indexed filename searches, Windows 7 also unnecessarily indexes content. That in turn adds overhead that limits the practical scope of indexed filename searches (see above Windows 7 documentation warning against indexing entire drives).
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25 Nov 2009   #10

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by kegobeer View Post
I disagree about what many/most users want or need. My opinion is that people want the ability to index based on a lot more than just a filename...Why bother trying to remember a name of a document or photo when you can search for meta terms, or by what the document contains, or by when the photo was taken?...many/most people don't need to find different versions of a particular runtime dll...
Having a user-configurable option (as on Vista or Windows 7 beta) to restrict indexing to "filenames only" does NOT preclude indexing content. If users want to index metadata, they can. It would likely default to that. Rather it would give users the option of filename-only indexing, with the lower overhead and faster performance that entails. Apparently that option existed in Vista and Windows 7 beta, but was removed for RTM.

There are many reasons to search for various filenames, not just a specialized DLL. If filename searches were unimportant, Windows 7 wouldn't do that. It does, just not always indexed.
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