How frustrating is it to not find that important document, software or any other file you are supposed to email to someone? No matter what you search for – what extension you put, the computer won’t just find it. About 65 years ago, Edward Aloysius Murphy known for his sarcastically adage axioms, “Murphy’s Law” said, “If you need 6 buttons, you will find 5 in your button box.” Of course it holds true even when those buttons are digital.

Sometimes you even remember the sentence you wrote in that document, but not the name with what you saved it. Is there any way to use that information to find your file? Yes, there is. Here is a list of some freeware tools that will help you not only pinpoint your files but also the content that is inside those files.

Replace the default Windows Search with Search Everything


First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. Windows Search is neither very potent nor it offers much fancy features. Search Everything is a light weight, nifty tool that returns the results of your search query instantly. It is very low in terms of system resource usage and updates its results in real time.

It supports all the basic file operations, including sorting. There is just no reason why you shouldn’t disable your default Windows search and start relying on Search Everything. Two other substitutes are UltraSearch and FileSearch, both of them are minimal on resource usage and do the job fine.

Find and Replace the File Content


So you don’t remember the name of the file but you do remember some of the lines that are inside it. Advanced File and Replace is just the right tool for you, although it is not completely free, but you get 21 days free access to it. The app has the ability to search for the texts inside the file and is reasonably fast at doing it.

Advanced File and Replace lets you select the explicit file types you are looking for – leaving the rest to save time. You could also mention the date of when the last time you accessed that file – another variable that you could use to be more precise and get relevant results. You could assert where you want to look – folder, file, or simple results. Also, there are options to encompass file size and file name length. To be able to search inside PDF files, you are strictly required to have Adobe Reader installed on your system. This might as well as become the Swiss knife for programmers – listing all the programs using a specific code.

Infiltrate through your files using DocFetcher


DocFetcher is a power house that renders content from all your documents and compressed folders, and makes it available when you search for something.

In order to install this software, you need to have Java pre-installed on your system. Once the software is installed, depending on your computer settings on how it indexes its files, you might come across few problems. Unless all your files in your disk drive are indexed, DocFetcher won’t be of any use. For indexing, click on the Search Scope pane on the left, right click on it, select Create Index Form and choose Folder. Sadly, indexing might take a little while.

Problem with Windows default search functionality is that it only looks at the keywords while searching for a file. DocFetcher, in addition to that, also looks for the content inside the file.

Dominant Search Engine FileSeek


File Seek is another great free alternative to Windows Search Engine. It is exceptionally light on system resources and can penetrate through CHM, PDF, Word and other famed file types to match the content. It has both its own menu option along with the Windows default menu. Unlike many other apps including DocFetcher, it doesn’t take time indexing all your files. It can search into your compressed zip and rar folders, and the documents inside such compressed folders.

Recoll, a Search Solution for Linux Users


Just like Microsoft’s Windows, most of the Linux powered operating system doesn’t have moving search functionality. Worry not; Recoll comes to the rescue. It’s a text search tool for Unix and Linux work environment. Just like DocFetcher and FileSeek, this too can look into the files and not just the folders to cup tie the content. It can even intercept your email and newsletter threads.

Search Files on your Android/ iOS/ Blackberry Devices


We find the annoying factor elevate to a whole new level once we could not find a file on our mobile devices. One of the best cross platform file exploring apps available, ES File Explorer, automatically indexes your files without making any noise. You can set the folder, choose the sub-directories where you want to search; obviously you can search in your SD card as well.

Besides, you can perform basic file operations such as cut, copy, move and paste right from the application only, which can come in handy when freeing up space while moving content from device memory to SD card and so forth. It also lets you search the connected bluetooth devices and has support for FTP servers. A nice alternative to this for Android users is Fast File Manager which does more or less the same job.

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Manish is pursuing a degree in Computer Science and Engineering but spends more time in writing about technology. He has written for a number of Indian and international publications including BetaNews, BGR India, WinBeta, MakeTechEasier, MediaNama, and Digit magazine among others. When not writing, you would find him ranting about the state of digital journalism on Twitter.