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Fix Windows XP search, add something useful to your context menus:

Two small steps for you, and a giant leap forward for your XP computer...

Fed up with XP's apparent inability to find your files through the search facility?  Ever wish those right-click context menus in Explorer did something useful?  This time out, we offer a pair of relatively simple tweaks that ought to improve your XP experience. 


Improve Windows XP's search facility...

One of the handiest features of Windows since Win 95 was its built-in ability to find files based on a portion of their name, size, creation date, or verbal content. With Windows XP, though, the windows search facility seems to have lost its mechanical mind- routinely overlooking files that, as often is the case with us, may be precisely the ones you're looking for.

It requires being up to date on your XP service packs, but there's a deeply buried setting in the labyrinthine structure of the XP menus that can restore at least some of the former glory of the Windows search facility.

Making the adjustment sounds a lot more complicated than it really is- just follow along with the instructions and, before long, you'll be finding files that seemed to have been misplaced forever, lost in the nethermost regions of your hard drive.

1. From the Windows XP desktop, click START, then SEARCH.  Look for a menu item to CHANGE PREFERENCES.  Depending on your screen resolution, you may have to do some scrolling in the menu pane to spot it.

2. Click it, then click WITH INDEXING SERVICE (yes, we know you've it turned off so your whole system isn't sucked down by its attempt to emulate the server farm at Google, but that's okay.  The indexing service doesn't have to run for this to work).

3.  Find and click CHANGE INDEXING SERVICE SETTINGS.  This will bring up a window like the background one in the screen shot above.  Unlike the illustration, though, the left-most pane won't be visible.  To reveal it, click the third icon from the left (circled top-left in the screen shot).

4.  Right-click on the top-most folder icon, then select PROPERTIES from the resultant context menu.  That action will call forth from the innards of the beast the foreground dialogue window shown above.

5.  Put a checkmark next to where it says INDEX FILES WITH UNKNOWN EXTENSIONS.  From that point, OKAY and CLOSE your way back to the surface, and you're done.

In the future, that ridiculous little dog will be a lot more thorough digging through the rubbish heap we call a file system, finding items it had simply overlooked before.  We don't guarantee all this will find your misplaced files, but it's sure been a big help for us.


Put a little muscle in your context menus

This one may be a little scary- it involves edits to the Windows registry.  They're really minor, though, and we've found a way to make it really easy.

Like the Windows search facility, the Windows File Manager has lost some function over time, such as an ability to open multiple views within the same window.  These little tweaks don't restore that, but they're extremely useful for moving files around on your hard drive.

Rather than going through the steps of dealing with the registry, we'll link to a place to download a simple batch file that does all the heavy lifting for you.

When you're done, there'll be two new items on the right-click context menu: COPY TO FOLDER and MOVE TO FOLDER.  Either of these will pop up a nifty little mini-explorer window to select a destination for your selected files or folders.

We normally recommend against downloading files from strange sites on the Internet, but this one's both useful and harmless.  We tested it out on our own equipment, and it worked as described- doing no more than it claimed it would do.  Nonetheless, use this file at your own risk.  If something should go wrong, you can't say we didn't warn you.

Get the batch file here, but read the instructions before using it- not that there's any problem with it, but it's always best to have some notion of what a downloaded file will do:  http://home.covad.net/~zeiler07/Reg/CopyToMoveTo.html.



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