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Windows XP – search NOT finding files

Other day I was searching for a file in my desktop using Windows Search option “A word or phrase in the file” and search results came back saying “Search is complete. There are no results to display“. But I was certain the file with the keyword that I was searching for existed in my machine, and sure enough I was able to locate the file after going through a ton files. Once I located the folder in which my file existed, I ran the search again on the folder with the same keywords, but search gave the same results as before.

After browsing around a little, I found that this is a known bug with Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 editions. Multiple resolutions are given at Microsoft site under the link Using the “A word or phrase in the file” search criterion may not work

I used method2 and here is how it looks:
To configure Windows XP to search all files no matter what the file type, obtain the latest service pack for Windows XP and then turn on the Index file types with unknown extensions option.

If you use this method, Windows XP searches all file types for the text that you specify. This can affect the performance of the search functionality. To do this:
1. Click Start, and then click Search (or point to Search, and then click For Files or Folders).
2. Click Change preferences, and then click With Indexing Service (for faster local searches).
3. Click Change Indexing Service Settings (Advanced). Note that you do not have to turn on the Index service.
4. On the toolbar, click Show/Hide Console Tree.
5. In the left pane, right-click Indexing Service on Local Machine, and then click Properties.
6. On the Generation tab, click to select the Index files with unknown extensions check box, and then click OK.
7. Close the Indexing Service console.


Fore more details visit MSDN Knowledgebase



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  1. Sandy Trevor
    July 13th, 2008 at 18:28 | #1

    Thank you!!! I’m new to XP (W2K holdout) and could not figure out why a simple search couldn’t find anything in my files. Oh, so in XP suddenly MSFT decided not to search files with extensions it doesn’t know about! This “feature” cost me hours … thanks so much for the answer.

  2. Ash
    September 18th, 2008 at 08:01 | #2

    Excellent. I’ve ignored the search function for months as it didn’t work. Thanks again dude.

  3. nicolas
    June 1st, 2009 at 05:32 | #3

    This OS is so pathetic.
    We are the 1st jun 09, and it just can find a text in a directory full of plain ASCII text document.

    I know the text is somewhere, it just wont find it.

    This is mindblowing.

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