Windows Search gets worse!

I have no idea how they pulled it off, but Microsoft has somehow made it even harder to find files on your computer.

I'm already wistful for the good old days, when hitting "Search" from windows explorer would pull up an annoying dialog asking a bunch of stupid questions about what you wanted to search for.

The one thing that old dialog had going for it, and I'm afraid that I never gave it its due credit, is that when you hit the Search button, it would actually, you know, search your hard drive for files.

Well, that's all gone with the new & improved Search dialog. Now, you get a bunch of even stupider questions to look at, but when you hit the Search button it immediately comes up with this:

Nothing found for query "" because the folder F:\ is not indexed.
Nothing found for query "" because the folder F:\ is not indexed.

Roughly translated: "I didn't find anything because I didn't actually look."

Now, being a reasonably computer-savvy guy, I figured it should be a simple matter of hitting the "Index this folder" button somewhere on that screen. Uhh... maybe it's in a dropdown someplace... in a menu maybe??? Nope. It's nowhere. To this day, I have no idea where to even look for the tool that might be responsible for indexing that folder. It just became impossible to search for files anywhere except for my C drive.

So here is my advice for anybody on the Microsoft Search team that might be reading this. In the case where your clever little index of "Things on this drive" doesn't know about the file I'm searching for, or maybe if your clever little index doesn't actually know anything about the hard drive in the first place, maybe you should fall back to, you know, searching the hard drive. It would make my life a little easier.

As it is, I'm back to DOS, pulling out commands I haven't used in 15 years. Thanks Microsoft!

UPDATE: LazyWebâ„¢ to the rescue!

This got picked up by Reddit, and 20,000 people have since written comments explaining how to actually convince Windows Search to index new content. Since this page is now the #1 Google result for that annoying message, I figured it might help if I actually explained how to turn indexing on.

You've got three basic choices:

  • Go to My Computer, right click F:\, Properties, check "Allow Indexing Service to index this disk for fast file searching."
  • or, click the text of that helpful error message (not the help icon), which will pop up a help page. Read through the longwinded description of how Indexing works and how it's making your life better, and eventually you'll find some form of link that sends you to a control panel that should let you turn it on. Somehow.
  • or, of cource, the obvious solution that anybody who's not a complete idiot (according to Reddit) would immediately know: Click the Dog!

Jason Kester

I run a little company called Expat Software. Right now, the most interesting things we're doing are related to Cloud Storage Analytics, Online Classrooms, and Customer Lifecycle Metrics for SaaS Businesses. I'll leave it to you to figure out how those things tie together.

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