Although Windows has built-in search module, it sometimes behaves peculiarly — you are sure about a certain file and the default search shows no result. With Vista, Windows Search improved but it is painfully slow at times. Here are 7 freeware search applications that make searching files and folders easier — and they offer more options, too.

InSight Desktop Search

InSight search is more than a search utility — it can quick-launch upto "14 objects like weblinks, shortcuts to files/ folders, and short notes" and searches Wikipedia Articles. It shows you a list of possible results as you type. It offers previews of files from the search results. It can search for music files if you enter artist's name or album's name.

Snow Bird

Snow Bird is a lightweight Windows Search solution that needs no installation and can be carried along in a USB thumb-drive. Snow Bird has a built-in file-copy module that allows you to copy files faster ignoring errors while copying.


Locate32 is another search utility. It creates index files containing information about all files and folders across drives. It can show search-results in thumbnails. You can even save search results into HTML files. Command-line users can search across drives with Locate32. Locate32 also offers an array of advanced settings.

Agent Ransack

Agent Ransack is the freeware and lightweight version of FileLocator Pro. Agent Ransack offers an advanced regular expression search, along with simple search options. Search results can be exported as text or CSV files. Agent Ransack also searches drives connected via network. It also offers command-line options.

Everything Search

Everything Search is a freeware search utility that is fast enought to show search results as you type. Its biggest drawback is that it searches only NTFS drives. (Read more about Everything Search.)

Windows Grep

Windows Grep is more for an advanced user than an average one. Windows Grep lets users search for files and folders based on a given regular expression. Along with regular search options, it features text-file searching (you can search program source code, batch files etc.), ZIP file searching (the contents of zip files can be searched). Since regular expressions are hard to build (for most of us), Windows Grep allows users to save searches for future purpose.

Search My Files

Search My Files is freeware utility that also searches for files and folders across drives but it offers a lot more options than any other utility. You can even search for files which are created on a certain date. It has a robust set of command-line options.

What's your choice?

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