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What is the currently best Desktop Search software?

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Steven Avery:
Hi Folks,

Limiting it to the file and folder name searching, and to freeware.  The last months I have used the slow Total Commander search recently and will return to one of these programs. 

For this generally we will want programs that are not Lite versions of Pro, although in some cases the Pro may be extra features like Network drive (Ava Find) support -- so that understandably is extra.

Some of these may (e.g. Astrogrep, Locate32) search inside or give the actual matches inside or may even emphasize search-and-replace. And I am not including some heavyweights (e.g  Google Desktop, Copernic, Lookout) that are primarily designed for x-ray search and have lots of ink above.

There are about 20 major features and platforms to consider, so that is not addressed here. Note that FreewareGenius has done a good job on reviews.

FARR has a Locate32 plugin and probably fits in here somewhere as well.

Gizmo's discussion.

The following should help someone who might want to do a fuller comparision.
It looks like leaders are:


Everything - Voidtools (David Carpenter) - NTFS only - fan favorite, excellent - no forum, good FAQ
FreewareGenius review

SearchMyFiles - Nir Sofer - Nir does excellent software - new 02/2009 - no forum

Extra Search Free - Crave Worldwide - India - nice interface, active development

Locate32 - Janne Huttunen - Source Code C++

Astrogrep - Open Source - last release 09/2007 - shows lines (programmer oriented)

DK Finder - Denes Kellner (Hungary) - reasonably active - await DKF3 - no forum
Freeware Genuis review 08/2008

Index Your Files -  J. Rafael Castro Imbernon (Spain) - LastUpdate 12/2007 - No forum

Super Finder XT - FreeSoftLand - Donationware

Seeker - Veign (Chris Hanscom SC, USA) - no forum, blog, link to DC

ScanFS - Saleen Software - related FilePro and Synchronizer freeware

Filehand Search 3.0 - (NH, USA) now free, Professional-Enterprise versions in process. Good review pg. 1 for light full search.

StopKa - Vitali Yemialyanchyk - (Belarus) - no forum (p. 22 - dubious)

XSearch - EaseXP - no forum


Agent Ransack - Mythicsoft (Oxford, England) - lite version of FileLocator Pro - no forum

Ava Find - "Think Less Do More Software" - free version of Ava Find Professional - no forum

Exalead Desktop - (France w USA) Free version of Professional - Enterprise emphasis - no forum
Discussed around pg. 6-7 as full-blown indexing tool.

How to replace Windows XP Start menu Search with a third-party search tool
(work with classic now ?)

So those were the 16 I found, the top ones are known to be leaders, yet you may find gems further down.  Feel free to do a 20-point matrix comparision chart in your spare time :) .


Nice post, Steven!


I really like Locate, it just works well in my experience
Thanx for that list Steven, 4 or 5 of them I never heard of, going to try them.

Carol Haynes:
I have now removed locate and use Everything almost exclusively.

The only problem I have with "Everything" is that it doesn't seem to be able to cope with removing external drives.

I suppose I could tell it not to index external drives but it really needs a way to allow their removal without invalidating the whole catalog for all drives. At the very least it could do with a way of automatically regenerating its index when a drive is removed. The only way I have found to do that is to close the app and restart it - which is clucnky and only ever happens when I go to make a search.

Steven Avery:
Hi Folks,

  Oh, there is also the genre of search and replace programs, since they are likely to have a find file program as part of their function.

  One seems to fit the above list quite well, I actually used it a while back.  Even though it was developed years ago, its usage was quite solid and pleasant.

InfoRapid Search and Replace - Ingo Straub (Germany) - Last Update - 2003 - no forum
Free for non-commercial use

  On top of the 17 freebies (any missed of significance ?) you have:

File Managers

  Perhaps a few of those are fast and strong, I mentioned Total Commander is slow, Xyplorer might be fast.  One of the reasons for this summary was that for most of us the file managers will be chosen on other criteria.  However if a few are truly top-notch on "find files" it would be worth a note. Personally I would be more likely to switch to that file manager. 


Search and Replace programs, Disk Catalog programs (often designed for CD's) Dup File Finders and File Compare programs and general file utility programs.

   None that I have seen (usually just the screenshot and short discussion) so far seem have the clarity of the search programs, where the issue is simply finding all instances of a file name .. fast.  (And perhaps doing basic functions on the file .. viewing, executing, etc.) 

Except.. mentioned above p.12

BareGrep (free w/startup splash screen) & BareGrepPro - Bare Metal Software (Australia) 2006 last ver-no forum

DocFetcher - Open Source - Freeware (p. 18 in thread and lots of good discussion with Qforce)

AutoFocus - (Netherlands) Open Source - Freeware

rexCrawler - Todd Boyd - free for personal use - no forum (p.21 in thread)

That can be #18 & 19 & 20 & 21 for freeware-file-name-find consideration.

  And as mentioned in the intro, the heavy-weights multi-function desktop searches are a different puppy. Since they tend to be overkill for the simple function.

  And any rate these are major freeware full-desktop-search programs.  Not the programs like Archivarius and the direct X1 and dtSearch ($200)

Copernic Desktop Search Home (Free, Professional $50 per license) - no forum
Compare Versions

Yahoo Desktop Search (X1)

Google Desktop Search

Ask Jeeves (browser-style) - No Forum

Microsoft Windows Search 4.0
Windows Search 4.0 & Windows Desktop Search 3.01 downloads & updates (Add-ons)

   Users could indicate whether they are too bulky for the simple tasks, or maybe one or two are totally competent. 

Well, while we are here, some of the paid version best-by-test. 
And for X1 the free version will be acceptable to many.

X1 Professional Client - $50 - 30-day trial then restricted version, probably ok for many
(PST Archive discussion above p.3 - PST = Outlook )  Is X1 Limited == Yahoo X1. Identical ?

Archivarius 3000 - Likasoft - $40 - no forum

dtSearch - 30-day evaluation $200
Yahoogroups - (also one for developers, one for news)
Page 10 and later -- discussion.

  The next mention is a few of the paid search tools that might be worth a look for some even for the simpler searches. And you can find a few above where there are both professional versions and freeware versions.

Master Find - Rose City Software - shareware - $15 - no forum

Search GT - Isatech - shareware - $20 - no forum (discussion starts p.11)

FindOnClick - 2BrightSparks - shareware - $30 for group of utilities (p.15 favorable post for full search and response)

LookDisk 2.95 - Vincenzo Iuorno - Singapore (2006 freeware)
LookDisk - Iconico - Shareware $30 - ver 4.2

Sowsoft - Effective File Search - 30-day trial version - $30
Instand Document Search - $30

File Search Assistant - Aks-labs - $70
Disk Search Assistant -Aks-Labs $40 (not on main site)

Desktop Find Professional (Italy) $80 - $125 - no forum

PowerGrep - JG Soft (Just Great Software - Thailand) $150 - 15-day trial - no forum

Now we go into Enterprise-land.  Note this first one has a free version.

SearchInform Desktop (Free, Standard $49, Professional $200)

ISys Search Software - Desktop 9 - 14-day trial, price undisclosed, resellers, enterprise

Gaviri Digital Home SearchOS - $40 (NJ - USA) also Professional, Enterprise, OEM - no forum

Some more might be findable from the Goebel Group articles (they sell a Google gadget, some database tools, etc).

Desktop Search Tools Matrix
Search Appliance Matrix
Compare Microsoft Live Search Products

And there might be more in the 25-pages above. :)
Ok, now all skimmed, a few additions made.

And another interesting read with an auxiliary product to Microsoft search.

Evaluation of desktop search applications - Michael Lowe
Visual Desktop Search - freeware   

Steven Avery


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