The 17 Best Free Search Tools for Windows 10
So you’re looking for the best free search tools for your Windows PC? Don’t worry; you’re at the right place. We’ve all searched for a program, file, or folder only to discover that the system search takes even longer to find results than it does just to find them manually yourself.
While there have always been some neat Windows Search tips and tricks, it has never been on par with the search features of Mac or Linux. Although Windows 10 did lessen the gap in a lot of ways, it’s still slow and imperfect comparatively. And that’s precisely why we’ve rounded up a list of the best, free Windows third-party search tools instead that will do the job for you instead.
While you can always rely on the Enhanced Search Mode in Windows 10, third-party apps have their place. Everything is consistently lauded as one of the fastest search tools for Windows. Using it is as simple as it gets: install it, open the program, and give it a bit to index your entire system (It can index a fresh Windows install in under a minute).
Once that’s done, all you have to do is type anything into the text field, and you will get instantaneous results as you type. And as long as you allow Everything to sit in the background and monitor system changes, it will always be instantaneous.
Best of all, it’s lightweight and takes up less than 5MB RAM and 1MB disk space. This is the absolute best tool to use for old and slow computers.
Of all the software on this list, Listary is probably the most different. Not only is it extremely minimal in design, but it stays completely out of your way until you need it as well. When you want to search, just start typing. It’s as easy as that.
And as you type, Listary will show you a list of all files on your system that match the query in real-time. Listary can also execute commands like Open Folder and Copy Folder Path. You can even use Listary to quickly hop into a different folder just by typing that folder’s name.
Some of its best features require Listary Pro, which is $20. But even with Listary Free, you get a lot of power and flexibility, which is one of the many reasons it makes it onto this list of the best Windows File Explorer extensions for file management.
If you’re someone who likes to have a more hands-on approach with your PC, then grepWin will be one of the most useful tools you’ll have at your disposal. With it, you can search through any directory tree, and it will find files by matching contents with your search query (regular expressions are supported).
If you’ve ever used Linux, it’s basically the grep command (one of the essential Linux commands to know), but designed for Windows and comes with a nifty interface. So, the next time you need to search for a specific line of code or a specific line of documentation, this will cut your search time by orders of magnitude.
AstroGrep is a great alternative to grepWin if the latter doesn’t fit your fancy. It does the same thing—finds files that match your search query by content rather than file name—but is slightly less advanced and easier to use.
You can designate which file types to search, view file contents within AstroGrep itself, and save or print results for later. Potential future features include searching through PDFs, MP3s, ZIPs, RARs, and more.
AstroGrep has been around since 2006 and continues to receive regular updates.
SearchMyFiles may seem helplessly primitive at first glance, but it’s deceptively flexible. Once you get over the slight learning curve, you’ll be able to put together complex search queries using filters and wild cards.
For example, search all files created in the last 15 minutes, between 300 and 600 bytes in size, and containing the word error. The application is lightweight and portable (no installation required), so you can carry it around on a USB stick. NirSoft also maintains hundreds of other useful utilities that are all clean, portable, and available free of charge.
Exselo Desktop isn’t as well-known as other free Windows 10 search tool options, which is a shame because it’s actually excellent. It supports powerful search queries, has a simple interface, securely shares data, and even integrates with Outlook.
Not only can it search local drives, but Exselo can also comb through network and cloud stores. And best of all, the Free edition is feature complete. The only difference between Free and Enterprise is support for multiple users.
Duplicate & Same Files Searcher is a tiny portable Windows 10 search program—around 1MB in size—that finds all files that are identical by content (not by file name). As such, the scanning process can be a bit slow, but you can filter and set parameters to speed things up.
And not only can the program delete said duplicates, but it can replace them with hard links that are basically shortcuts to one single file, thus saving you space without breaking anything in the meanwhile.
Can you guess how much of your hard drive space is wasted by duplicate files? The answer might surprise you. Duplicate files are more common than we tend to think, and if those duplicates are image, audio, or video files, they can take up a lot of unnecessary space.
Registry Finder is another free Windows 10 search tool that makes registry navigation easy. It can also search keys according to when they were last modified, meaning this tool is helpful when you want to see all recent changes that were made (e.g., for troubleshooting).
Despite the improved search features in Windows 10, the registry is still a bit crude and could use a lot of love. Whether you would like to fix errors in the registry or make a few tweaks for usability, the process of finding keys can be slow and tedious—and that’s why Registry Finder really shines.
UltraSearch is a creation of JAM Software. They are also the creators of the popular hard drive space recovery program, TreeSize. UltraSearch offers essential search features plus a few extras, all while keeping it simple and fast.
It works by directly searching the Master File Table (MFT). Within the search window, all important file information is displayed. It also displays all of your computer’s partitions and their total size and free space. Additional options include showing folders and/or files in a search, exclude filters, and printing the search results.
If you prefer the style of search from Windows XP, FileSearchEX is the program for you. Not only is the search interface familiar and comfortable, the app itself is portable and uses minimal system resources.
However, there is one drawback: the free version is a trial—not in the sense that the program will expire and become unusable, but the search window will time out. Open the window, complete your search, then close it. If you do this promptly, you should be fine.
Overall, the search performance is OK. It isn’t nearly as fast as the other programs we tested, but we still noticed it was quicker than the default Windows Search and remains a good alternative.
Launchy is a nifty app that’s meant to replace the Start Menu, the Taskbar, the File Explorer, and desktop shortcuts. If you’ve ever used a Mac, then it’s a bit like Spotlight. Launchy indexes your entire system, then lets you launch files, apps, folders, and bookmarks with just a few keystrokes.
Most people think Launchy can only launch apps, but it can search files and folders if you enable the setting. Open Launchy with the Alt + Space shortcut, click the gear icon at the top right, go to the Catalog tab, find File Types in the right panel, then click “+” to add file types and directories that you want to include in the search.
Wise JetSearch is a free search tool for Windows 10. It is capable of searching all types of important files such as videos, music, images, and texts from the local drives and the removable drives.
Wise JetSearch can search all the hard drives and partitions, be they removable disks or secondary disk. It supports a variety of drive formats such as NTFS, FAT, and exFAT. Features like Quick Search and Preview Pane make using a Wise JetSearch a suitable alternative to the default Windows Search tool.
If you are a Windows power user looking for more control of your searches, then FileSeek is your best bet. Through its Advance Querying feature, you can use regular expressions to go specific in your search commands.
Then there’s the feature of Tabbed Interface. You know how you have to wait for a search to get completed before you can look up something else on Windows? With FileSeek, you won’t have to wait like that anymore. Thanks to Tabbed Interface, you can look up multiple files in a single go.
You can also filter the search results by date (creation date, modification date, etc.) and size. There’s also a feature to copy the search result to a clipboard, and the ability to export them in formats like CSV and HTML.
These and many more such features make FileSeek an attractive choice for those of you who spend a lot of time using Windows 10. Also, you’ll receive a trial version of the Pro version after installation, which switches back to the free version after a short period.
Agent Ransack is a free Windows search tool available for both personal and commercial use. We like this app because it gives immediate results without you having to open the files and then look up the right information.
You can also share the search results with others through the printing, exporting, and reporting features that come with this tool. Agent Ransack is also available as a free commercial Windows search tool. For commercial purpose, the creators have branded it as FileLocator Lite, although, it’s essentially the same tool by the same company.
Are you an open-source aficionado? Then you’ll probably like DocFetcher. It’s a free, open-source desktop search application that can help you search through heaps of files on your computer with blazing fast speed.
“You can think of it as Google for your local files. The application runs on Windows, Linux and OS X, and is made available under the Eclipse Public License,” writes DocFetcher on their homepage.
In times like ours, where privacy has become a joke, products like DocFetcher offer a breath of fresh air.
It’s a free PC search utility to help you find your files in a fast and efficient manner. Packed with a minimalist interface, the tool offers a search filter, real-time display panel, and a search box.
The software also offers a pro version that comes with added features, but the free version will do the job for most use cases. Apart from giving you relevant results, it will also notify you about junk files that you haven’t used and probably don’t even need.
Apart from its clutter-free and smooth searching abilities, SSuite Desktop Search tool offers a different but fledgling approach to software and its development: green software.
To put it briefly, green software is a type of software designed to be environmentally sustainable over a period of time.
The SSuite Desktop Search is designed to run on native Windows operating systems using the Win32 API structure, as opposed to other software products that run on Java or .NET. As a result, the latter products have higher memory requirements, resulting in a comparatively higher electrical consumption.
Also, note that when you install the free desktop search app, you’ll get a .zip file. To run it, you’ll first have to extract it locally on your PC. After that, you’ll be good to use the app.
For better and faster search results, go ahead and pick one of the above tools. The built-in Windows 10 search is getting better, but there’s still a long way to go before you can rely solely on it.
There might be many things that annoy and frustrate you in Windows 10, but the user base is so large that you’ll always be able to find a third-party software that improves upon Microsoft’s shortcomings. These nifty Windows search utilities here are proof of that.