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Alternatives for find dialog
For users of an alternative shell and/or people not satisfied with build in Windows search function, here's some alternatives. Not necessarily eyecandy, still useful. Idea and lots of research for this page by CutTheRedWire, thanks :). If you just want an alternative way to call for the regular find/search dialog, check here.
"Agent Ransack is a tool for finding files and information on your hard drive fast and efficiently. When searching the contents of files Agent Ransack displays the text found so you can quickly browse the results without having to separately open each file!
Agent Ransack provides compelling advantages over similar search tools:
  • Regular expressions that allow complex rule based searches.
  • Immediate contents results view.
  • Various wizards to walk the user through the searching process."
Then, there's Xteq X-Find. Powerful, highlighting search strings and can open results in same window.

There's also an old one called Find. It's just like the old 9x find dialog, might be useful for people despising the new, more advanced, but also slower versions of the function (2k/XP). Red reports it to be lightning fast, just a simple .exe. Kinda nice :), and it stuck on my machine.

Another one of those basic finders: FindFiles by esushi - simple, clean, good results.
I want results and I want them now! Here's pulp's words on that. We tested and tend to agree:

"Cathy from Robert Vašíček is a freeware disk cataloging tool, its one of those tools that are so small, efficient and well made that it makes you wonder why arnt all other pieces of software made the same way.

You will need both Cathy itself and CathyCmd, CathyCmd is a console tool to update Cathy's catalogs automatically. Now the trick is, to use CathyCmd with an input file (just a text file) to update your catalogs. My input file is as follows:
## It's a comment
#IGN *.tmp; \windows; \tempo*; \cygwin*;
#DEV C:\ , pulse
#DEV D:\ , data
#DEV E:\ , scratch
Called cathy.cmd, but you can give it any other name. The first line tells it to ignore certain pathes, and the rest tells it to index my 3 HDs.

Next step is to use Windows Scheduled Tasks, to run CathryCmd automatically, I have it run every 8 hours. The command to run would be something like:
d:\app\tool\cathy\cathycmd.exe -f cathy.cmd
A problem here is that when WST runs this task, a console window will popup, but it can be avoided, grab run-1.1.4.zip from CygUtils; this little tool allows you to run console programs without the console window appearing. So the command to execute in WST will be:
d:\tool\console\run.exe d:\app\tool\cathy\CathyCmd.exe -f cathy.cmd
Of course, substitute the paths to the correct ones on ur system. Now you have everything setup, with CathyCmd automatically updating the catalogs every 8 hours in the background without any effort from you.

Whats the advantage of all this? You get instant (and I mean instant as in quicker than a blink of an eye) searches, across all your HDs and even your CD collection if you want, thats how fast Cathy is! Of course you are probably thinking this isn't good since it's not a "real-time" search, but stop and ask yourself, when was the last time you searched for a file thats been on your computer less than 8 hours (or whatever the period you specify in WST) ?" Thanks, pulp.
And there's the old "where.exe", in Reds words, "a dos utility to search for files from the command line. Can be used to echo the list to a text file. Very handy for for creating playlists (eg nirvana*.mp3>nirvana.pls)."
It's included on a lot of Windowns install cd's in your language. For completeness, English version is here (24 kB).
Rightclick options
My computer, drives and folders have a "find..." or "Search..." rightclick option, that opens up default find dialog ready to search that specific place. In the registry, occurrance of the item is defined here, respectivily:
To have it gone, just delete these find keys. You could also replace the app it triggers by modifying the default value at the underlying "command" key (pointing to explorer.exe). In that case, also check the "ddeexec" key, default value says [FindFolder("%l", %I)]. You'll need to delete that one (will be recreated, empty) for it to work too. To recreate the effect (app opened with the drive/folder selected), your replacement might support command line options 9check documentation), add %1 to it and it might work. Like Agent Ransack works with this entry at command key:
x:\program Files\Mythicsoft\Agent Ransack\AgentRansack.exe -d %1
..then again, it has its own rightclick entries :p...
Shareware alternatives
Examine32, as pointed out by ddeepr, "is a fast and versatile text search utility for Microsoft Windows 95/98/Me/NT/2000/XP that can
  • search any type of file. Text files and Microsoft Word, rich text format (RTF), WordPerfect and HTML (webpages) files are specifically supported.
  • use either ordinary text or GREP-like regular expressions. The logical operators OR, AND, NOT and XOR can be used with a specified search proximity.
  • search files within ZIP archives.
  • return a list of findings with file details, the selection highlighted in context, and line number."
Search & replace
Useful option at times, search for a textstring and replace in multiple files. While VP is not really the place to find these kinda tools, resistance was futile:
Search & Replace 98 is a personal favorite. It stands apart by being lightning fast and having just the right amount of options. Clean, simple, powerful.

Then, Red pointed out Handy File Find and Replace, "a free tool meant to assist you to quickly find and replace text in as many text (txt, html, xml, php, asp, perl, js, css, c++, pas etc.) files as you want". Couple more options, still very managable.

xhtml 1.1