1. In order to try to understand how FARR searches, I switched off all the virtual folders except %FARRDIR%\scripts. I then searched for 'excel'. It returns one item: C:\Program Files (x86)\FindAndRunRobot\scripts\Control Panel (cpanel)\Printers and Faxes (cpanel).lnk. Nowhere in that path is the string 'excel'. Why did it find this?
By default FARR has enabled "non-contiguous matching", which will match (albeit with a low score) against strings where the given letters are found in the right order but not next to each other, so for example: "Printe
rs and Fax
You can disable this if you like from the "Search Behavior" tab.
I think you are going about this the right way, trying to simplify in order to understand what FARR is finding, so disabling non-contiguous search can help. You can also turn on FARR's display of subfolders as it searches, which is in the "Display Options" tab.
One thing to keep in mind is that FARR tries hard to find lots of matches, but score them in a way so that the one you are most likely to want is listed at the top. You can alter the scoring heuristics in the "Heuristic Scoring" tab. Note also that once you launch a file once, it goes into your history list where it will be found instantly, and scored higher, the next time. So even if the file you were looking for wasn't at the top position the first time you launched it, it will be higher and faster next time.