If you are using either Windows Vista or Windows 7, you may have noticed that the Search function is very different from Windows XP. In Windows XP, by pressing the Search button on the command bar, a search pane will appear on the left side of the explorer. Alternatively, you can also bring up the Search box by pressing WIN+F on anywhere or CTRL+F and F3 on Windows Explorer. On Windows Vista and 7, by default the operating system quietly indexes all the files on your hard drive so that it can very quickly tells you where the file that you’re searching is located. I personally never liked any software or services that quietly does something behind my back, so I’ve disabled the Indexing Services (WSearch) right after finished installing Windows 7.
You can configure the Windows 7 Search function to always search file names and contents which is very much slower than indexed locations in Control Panel > Folder Options > Search tab. I tried searching for a file name and it took 420 seconds to complete the search. Using the default Windows search is a huge waste of time so I looked around for a third party search tool which can replace Windows 7 default search.
There are many third party search tool available to download but I am specifically looking for one that can “integrate” or “replace” the Windows 7 search feature so that I can use the hotkeys to launch the search box instead of manually running the program’s shortcut from the Start Menu or Desktop. So far I’ve only managed to find Agent Ransack and Saleen ScanFS which has Windows Explorer integration. You can forget about Saleen ScanFS because the integration only seem to work on Windows XP but not on Vista or 7.
As for Agent Ransack, I’ve tested the shell integration that replaces default Explorer search (CTRL+F and F3) and it works, but for some weird reason there are times that the integration fails. Pressing either CTRL+F or F3 in explorer moves the mouse cursor directly to the Windows search box instead of launching Agent Ransack. The integration of Agent Ransack with explorer is very useful because if you’re on a folder, pressing CTRL+F or F3 will automatically run Agent Ransack and embed the current explorer path to the search location. Saves you the trouble of manually browsing for the location or specifying it.
The search speed for Agent Ransack is insanely super duper fast. I searched for the same keyword and it took only 2 seconds to complete the search. There are times when the search took less than 1 second… Other than that, Agent Ransack also offers some powerful searching abilities such as using regular expression (not for newbies), searching through PDF and office documents, size, modified date, and etc.
Agent Ransack is the free version of FileLocator Pro which offers even more powerful search options with hotkey support by running another process FLProHotKey.exe. Agent Ransack works on both 32 and 64 bit of Windows. I am currently using Agent Ransack to replace the Windows 7 default search feature until I’ve found an even better one. So if you know of any third party search tool that has explorer integration, do let me know so I can review it and see if it can replace Agent Ransack.