Trying to find a file hidden somewhere on your system can be one of the more painful processes on any Windows machine. Thankfully, the release of Microsoft's latest OS has made this one hell of a lot quicker, but it's still not a patch on the apparently instantaneous results offered by "Everything" by voidtools.


Desktop search engine


2000, XP, 2003, Vista, 2008 and Windows 7


This piece of freeware takes up minimal amounts of your hard drive space and a tiny proportion of your memory whilst running, but provides you with a way to flick through terabytes worth of data in the blink of an eye. When you install and run Everything on your system, it indexes your NTFS volumes by file name only. It therefore ignores the actual content of these files and saves itself a tonne of work.

So, the end result for the user is that it's seriously quick - quick like the love child of Michael Schumacher and a cheetah would be. Both indexing and searching the files are covered and, once the results are in, you can right click on the icons for all sorts of nifty options including finding and copying the path to the files as well as all the usual choices you'd get when examining the thing on your desktop.

It has an entirely minimal look and feel and very little room for options, customisation or any task beyond file name search, but that's part of the reason it would only occupy 45MB of your RAM and 5MB of disk space on a system of over 1,000,000 files. For your reference, the 60GB machine we tested the software on contained around 90,000 objects.

As you begin to type your search term into the field, Everything starts to narrow its results page down from every file you own to the ones that fit the specific characters you've entered. Better still, you can use regex syntax to narrow your search with the use of characters like '+', '|' and others for either/or searches, wild cards and for finding files with specific letter groups or endings. And, if you really have to succumb to it, you can narrow the results lists further according to size and date modified - although that can take a tiny bit longer.

The only downside is that it doesn't index your non-NTFS media which does include USB sticks. That said it is, of course, free, so download it and give it a try. If you're a fan, then you can always make the developer's day and make a donation.

So, that's one place to start when looking for desktop search tools, but are there any hot tips you have for a better alternative? Let us know in the comments below and tell us what you make of Everything if you decide to give it a shot.