Fix Windows XP search, add
something useful to your context menus:
small steps for you, and a giant leap forward for your XP
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.
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
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
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).
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
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
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: