Monday, November 19, 2007

How Do I Find Specific Files On My Computer?

For Windows 9.xx to Windows XP/Vista Tip #0010

Last month, we explored how to discover what programmes and software were loaded on your machine, along with information about your hardware.
If you are like most users, you have quite a number of files on your machine. All kinds of files. And a surprising amount of files. Pictures of the family gathering last summer, an idea for a story or letter you might like to write some day. The results of some research done about something or someone or perhaps some item you considered purchasing. Then if you have been transferring your old files from older machines, you have files that you most likely have completely forgotten about. How on earth can you find out how many files you have, and more importantly if you are looking for a specific file how on earth can you find such a file? One specific file amongst thousands, or perhaps part of an eMail sent a year ago?
What you will need is a personal search engine. One that can look through all your files and search for the specific one you are actually looking for. You know how to search for things on the internet using a search engine, for most Google or Yahoo. What about your own personal data base or in layman’s terms your files? Every single file now stored on your computer and if you have an external hard drive all those files as well. In short, the sum and total of all your personal files. To do this manually could take days perhaps weeks. Not the kind of chore for the faint of heart. A far better idea is to download a software programme that will index and list each and every file on your machine. But just having a list still provides a challenge; you want to be able to find a specific file or group of files on the subject you are looking for. And if you are impatient like I am, you want this to happen quickly.
Microsoft has added (somewhat belatedly) an indexed search tool to its new Vista programme, but as with all things Microsoftian, it is far from perfect. Though it does work fairly well. Google the on-line star of searching offers a fairly good programme and it has the added benefit of being available to people without the new (and still currently flawed) VISTA operating system. For my money though, the best programme to index and make easily searchable your own compendium of files is Copernic Desktop Search.
Copernic creates and keeps an index of words found in your e-mails, individual files, your music, pictures, videos, contacts, favorites, and history. It then uses the index to bring up your search queries and does so almost instantly. There is also a preview pane below the file list. This shows you not only the contents of your file, but also where in that file the words in your search appear. As you might imagine, this can be immensely useful and time saving. It turns your computer and all the information stored on it into useful tool rather than a container of mysteries.
So, dear bulldog readers, I strongly recommend you download the programme – using previous suggestions to save and store it – and find out all the forgotten treasures on your own machine.
In addition to Copernic Desktop Search being a real time saver and easy way to find files lost or long forgotten, it has another of my favourite features, it is free.
You can find Copernic Desktop Search by going to:
Then under the number 1, choose: Copernic Desktop Search 2.2 – English.
After you have downloaded and run the programme, it will perform a one-time search of your hard drive, or if you have more than one, all your hard drives. This will take some time, but it will be well worth it as you will soon see.
Once it has indexed all your digital data in easy to understand language you can customise your searches by type of file, format of file or just see everything that relates to a specific search term or search string. For example say you want to see everything that refers to your Aunt Martha. Type in and everything in every file relating to Aunt Martha will appear. Overwhelmed? Say you want to just see eMails to/from Aunt Martha. Limit your search by choosing eMail only. Or chose by date, or format. Play around with this for a few minutes and soon your hard drive and stored data will be mysterious no more.
You now are in control of all that information stored on your computer, and can call up information any time you need it for whatever reason. This is a very handy tool, which will also continue to index new files and information on the fly and in the background.
Please let me know your experiences with Copernic Desktop Search, and as always dear Bulldog readers should you have any questions or difficulties contact me at: Or should you wish the direct hyperlinks just go to the online site:

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