Everything from voidtools is the sort of lean desktop search utility that virtually anyone will find useful. However, it will be particularly appealing if you find it quicker to type commands (like file:, path:, or case:) rather than look for them on menus. Despite being in the same broad category as, and sharing basic features with, desktop search utilities like Lookeen and X1 Search, which is our Editors’ Choice, Everything is a very different class of program. Where both Lookeen and X1 Search are robust business productivity tools, Everything is better thought of as a highly useful, but somewhat limited, utility.
All three programs create an index, so they don’t have to search your entire drive or drives every time you search, and all three find results almost instantly, coming up with hits as you type the search into the search text box. They also all offer a window with a list of hits, which for Everything looks similar to Windows Explorer.
The default columns for Everything are Name, Path, Size, and Date Modified, but you can customize the choices, such as adding Extension and Type. As with Internet Explorer, you can move or copy files to the Desktop or to an Explorer window by dragging the file name from the Everything window. Similarly, right-clicking on the file name opens a context-sensitive menu that includes most of the same choices as the Explorer context-sensitive menu (including Open, Cut, Copy and Delete), plus some useful additions, most notably Copy Full Name to Clipboard (which copies the full path along with the file name).
There are two things that differentiate Everything from Lookeen and X1 Search. First, the other two programs index and search email, as well as documents. Second, they both index the full text of each item, so you can search for any text in the file or email. Everything limits the index and the search to file names and paths only. There’s a third important difference as well. The Everything utility is free. Simply download it from the voidtools website, and run the file to install it. It will then take a few moments to create its index, after which all of its features are immediately available.
The ability to search for emails, as well as documents, makes Lookeen and X1 Search far more capable than Everything as general-purpose business tools. But even if you are only interested in finding documents, the lack of full-text search in Everything makes it a little harder to find what you’re looking for.
After spending years reviewing printers, scanners, and other products, I have thousands of files on my drive with HP in the name. If I need to find a particular HP printer review or other document, searching for HP with Everything turns up over 10,000 hits. Entering the search as file:hp, to eliminate folder names, turns up well over 9,500 hits, and if I use Everything’s built-in Document filter option to limit the search to documents, I still get more than 2,500.
If I want a shorter list to search through, I can add the model name as part of the search, but if I have the information I’m looking for in a file with a name like Notes, it won’t show up with Everything. With Lookeen or X1 Search, as long as the model number is somewhere in the full text of the file, the file will show up in the results. And with full-text search I can also search for any other snippets of text I happen to remember as being in the file.
Even with this big a haystack to search through, however, Everything can still be highly useful. For some percentage of searches, it will find the right file in a shorter, more manageable, list of hits based strictly on having the model number in the file name. Or, since I keep files on the same subject together in the same folder, it may find another file in that folder. If so, I can take advantage of the command on the context-sensitive menu to go to the folder and then browse through the file names there. This approach won’t let you find the file you’re looking for as quickly or as reliably as with a program that indexes the full text of each file. However, it will usually let you find it, even if it takes a bit more time and effort.
There are also times when it’s useful to find all the files of a given kind on your drive, so you can delete them, move them, or do some other housekeeping task. The Everything utility can handle this kind of search with ease. As part of my writing process, for example, I create multiple image captures for each review. I keep each set in the same folder as the review itself, so the images are scattered over my drive in well over 100 separate folders for any given year. It’s helpful to delete some of these files every so often to free up the space on the drive. I could do that by navigating to each folder in turn. But that’s daunting enough that I’d probably never do it. Everything solves the problem.
By default, the capture utility I use, CaptureWizPro, names each file CaptureWiz plus a number, and I rarely have a reason to change the name. To delete all the CaptureWiz images, I only have to search for file:CaptureWiz, click on the Date Modified column to sort by date, highlight the files in the date range I want to delete, and hit the Delete key. Thanks to the Everything utility, what would otherwise be a time-consuming chore takes me less than minute.
If you need a desktop search program that can search for email, as well as files, consider X1 Search or Lookeen. If searching for email is not an issue, and you can’t justify the cost of a full-fledged desktop search tool, consider the free version of Lookeen, which lacks an email search capability but still offers full-text search for documents. If you can do without full-text search, however, and particularly if you value a utility that doesn’t use much of your computer resources—taking far less drive space for index files, for example, than Lookeen or X1 Search needs—check out Everything. Even though it can’t search email or do a full-text search, it’s fast, easy to use, and offers a powerful set of search options, all of which makes it impressively good at what it does.