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Windows 7 search - not returning file contents

    Question

  • I just upgraded my Laptop from Vista to 7. Great. I just have problems when I try to search files. It seems that is searching ONLY the names of the files and not the content.

    I have at least three files "word documents .doc" with the word "ancestry". If I open "windows explorer" and i type "ancestry" in the search box i get: "No items match your search". In the address box says: "Search Results in My Documents".

    I have tried the following:

    1. Create a new .doc document with the word “ancestry” and save it in the same directory. After some minutes the file appears in the Search results box. Good.
    2. Open the original file with the word "ancestry" and make some changes and save it again. Nothing. It doesn't work.
    3. Open the original file with the word "ancestry" and save it with other name. Bingo! It appears.

    -I have checked the "indexing options dialog box" and it says "indexing complete"
    -I have also used the option "delete and rebuild index" and it doesn't work. Once the indexing process is finished and rebooted the computer, I typed "ancestry" and nothing, not even the new files I just created.

    The same happens with all kind of files. I just get results if the name of the file contains the word I am looking for.

    Tuesday, November 03, 2009 4:07 PM

All replies

  • Yes, a few of us have had some fun with file content searching :-)

    You search for something that you know has the specified string and nothing is found.

    Check these:

    1. Control Panel -> Folder Options -> Search, select "Always search file names and contents...". This will search contents in unindexed locations (it will be slower).
    2. Control Panel -> Indexing Options -> Advanced -> File Types. Add any file types you need to search on here. For example, I had to add .vb. These indexing options appear to affect searching, too. If a file type is not in the indexing list, even if you select the option in step 1, search won't return any results.
    3. Check for the "I" attribute on files and folders that return no results. In may case, this somehow got set on my redirected "My Documents" folder and nothing was returned here in searches until I removed it.

    Hope this helps...
    Tuesday, November 03, 2009 7:38 PM
  • Thanks.

    1. I did what you said in number 1 and it doesn't work. ("alwyas search files names and contents" is now on)
    2. I verified that the File Types (.doc in this case) is on and set to index file content.
    3. i don't know what "I" attribute is.

    I just want to search content in Microsoft Word Files. It shouldn't be so difficult.

    Tuesday, November 03, 2009 11:10 PM
  • Hi, sorry it didn't work for you, I and many others agree, this should not be so difficult but Microsoft appear to be struggling on this and see it differently, surprise, surprise.

    The "I" attriubute can be seen in two ways, from a command prompt via the ATTRIB command:

    C:\>attrib Documents
            I    C:\Documents

    where I is "Not content indexed file attribute."

    or

    Via explorer, right-click properties of the file or folder, Advanced, "Allow files in this folder to have contents indexed in addition to file properties".

    Or, use the "Brute force" method that derosnec added, that will always work!

    Wednesday, November 04, 2009 4:52 AM
  • All my folders and files in My Documents folder are set to Allow files to have contents indexed.
    Thursday, November 05, 2009 3:16 AM
  • Try right click on the file, choose Properties --- Permission, check if Administrators group and your current account are in the list. If so, check if both have "Full Control" permission.

    Or you can just copy all files to another folder, delete current files and move copied files back to help reset permission.
    Thursday, November 05, 2009 9:47 AM
  • Yes. Both have "full control".

    Maybe this info is useful:

    I went to the file and opened it. Make some slight changes. Saved it and Closed it. Bingo! now if i look whatever word in THAT file i get the result. I know, I can open each file, modify it and save it. Yes, I have thousands of files. And, it works for a period of time. If I rebuild the index for example, searching stops working with all the files again!
    Thursday, November 05, 2009 11:32 AM
  • Hi,

    How about copy these files to another folder? It seems like a permission issue as after re-saving or move the file, they will back to index.
    Monday, November 09, 2009 10:11 AM
  • Shaon, searching is flawed, we shouldn't have to fiddle with it and kick, it should just work!
    Monday, November 09, 2009 6:48 PM
  • Hi,

    How about copy these files to another folder? It seems like a permission issue as after re-saving or move the file, they will back to index.

    I moved all the files from one folder to another. Now it works. I just get the files in the new folder but not in the original. I have looked at the permissions and I don't see any difference between the original file and the new one, though. I am not convinced that it is a permission issue.

    Do I have to move all my folders to make searching work?

    Another little problem is that I think I am supposed to see the string I was searching for in the piece of text that it shows with every file but this is not the case. Always I get the first words of the file.

    In any case, thanks for this advice.
    Tuesday, November 10, 2009 4:25 AM
  • Glad to hear that we find a workaround. If you would like to test more on this, try modify the permission such as delete Administrators group, Apply and re-add it back to see if issue still exists.

    Note: Incase we change it incorrect, backup may be needed.

    Tuesday, November 10, 2009 6:59 AM
  • Argh! Shaon, will someone at Microsoft please just admit that Windows search does not work?

    It should simply find what you enter, without all the pain, checking settings, fiddling around with it and praying!

    P.S. I have had no faith whatsoever in searching on Windows since around XP. It didn't work then and it still does not work now!
    • Edited by Rob.Ford Tuesday, November 10, 2009 7:11 AM added
    Tuesday, November 10, 2009 7:05 AM
  • Hi Rob,

    It should work so I'm trying to confirm with you to see if we can find out the cause. Meanwhile I will report this issue to see if there is any known solution.
    Tuesday, November 10, 2009 9:57 AM
  • I don't know how to delete Administrators group. What I did was to add a user with full access to the original folder. it doesn't work.
    Tuesday, November 10, 2009 5:00 PM
  • Hi Shaon, there are quite a few of us in these forums who are reporting that searching does not work in Windows 7. Searching on text strings that you know exist finds no results, for example. I have some shortcuts on my Start Menu that are never found for another example. I have had no faith in searching file contents since XP. Same problem, enter a string for a content search, no results. Open the file, there is your searched string.

    The bottom line is that this should work out of the box and it doesn't.

    Here's one example of what I am talking about:

    1. I search my networked home drive (H:\) (which is not indexed) for all files containing "createoject" which I know exists in many .VBS files.
    2. Absolutely no results are returned after about a 2 minute search completes.
    3. I change my indexing options (which should not affect searching except for speed) and I add .vbs files to be indexed.
    4. Rerun the search (and remember that H:\ is not indexed) - the results are now found.

    This is just one example of the problems with Windows Search.

    The problem is even worse on servers when you are searching for critical strings in log files. It says "no results" and you just can't trust it.
    • Edited by Rob.Ford Tuesday, November 10, 2009 9:53 PM Added example
    Tuesday, November 10, 2009 9:36 PM
  • Yes, it is maddening.  For example, I have a text file containing the string "hospitalDischargeStatus".  If I search for "hospital", "hospitalDischarge", or "hospitalDischargeStatus", the file is found.  But, I cannot search for "Discharge" or "DischargeStatus" - nothing is found.  It seems you cannot search for embedded or trailing strings.  Does search recognize wildcard characters that I have not yet discovered?
    Wednesday, November 11, 2009 3:51 PM

  • Try typing it out  s-l-o-w-l-y  one character at a time, and watch what happens.    ;)


    Very good :-)

    Visdtm, yes, i have noticed this, too, especially on the Start Menu, you type something, like "console", results are found, type "sole", nothing at all!

    Wednesday, November 11, 2009 9:20 PM
  • I have exactly the same problem.

    And this is true too:

    I went to the file and opened it. Make some slight changes. Saved it and Closed it. Bingo! now if i look whatever word in THAT file i get the result. I know, I can open each file, modify it and save it. Yes, I have thousands of files. And, it works for a period of time. If I rebuild the index for example, searching stops working with all the files again!

    What is the solution? changing to Google Desktop??
    Saturday, November 14, 2009 5:10 PM
  • Hi,

    How about go to Control Panel --- Index Options --- Advanced, change the Index Location to another folder (not on system partition).

    Meanwhile, try disable security programs such as firewall, antivirus program to see the result.
    Monday, November 16, 2009 8:19 AM
  • What is the solution? changing to Google Desktop??

    Yes, that always works
    Monday, November 16, 2009 11:36 PM
  • Hi,

    How about go to Control Panel --- Index Options --- Advanced, change the Index Location to another folder (not on system partition).

    Meanwhile, try disable security programs such as firewall, antivirus program to see the result.

    (Not in system partition) I think I have only one partition in my hard disk.
    Thursday, November 19, 2009 2:51 AM
  • What is the solution? changing to Google Desktop??

    Yes, that always works

    I am using Google Desktop but Google doesn't recognize .docx files (the new format of Word 2007) and I have a lot of files in that format.
    Thursday, November 19, 2009 3:01 AM
  • Is this thread still live? I have the same problem as above. Windows 7 Seardh was working (very well) but stopped (after an upgrade I think but can't be sure). Mysteriously, though, Search does return email contents matches, including document contents which are email attachments. But no other documents in my local or network drives. Have checked all the basic ideas above and no luck.

    Google Desktop working but would like Windows Search back. It was good when it was working.

     

    Thursday, April 08, 2010 4:40 PM
  • The problem is still live, I think the thread is dead, though :)
    Sunday, April 11, 2010 11:00 PM
  • I fear WDS is one of those remakes that keep on promising much and delivering little.  I really like W7 in other respects, am very experienced (and have tried, really tried with this and previous incarnations of WDS), but frankly just can't be bothered to make this work anymore.  Come back when you can make it operate out of the box for common file types and their contents and I'd be very interested.  Till then, I'm (reluctantly and fuming) going to use 3rd party search.  Absurd.
    Thursday, June 24, 2010 6:11 PM
  • I realize that this is in reply to an old message; however, I suddenly started to have a problem with viewing some of my files.  I have Windows 7.  What I FINALLY discovered (after trying many other things) was that the folders affected were set at Name.  When I changed it to Folder, it was suddenly all better.  This worked on the other folder as well.

     

    Sunday, September 12, 2010 9:58 PM
  • Shaon, Still not working. I get this all over the place. Basically, it should just find the files that contains the word I am looking for. If not indexes, it should just take a little longer. But it *just doesn't work* for apparently a lot of us.

    Are you guys making some progress fixing this?

    Monday, November 15, 2010 1:49 AM
  • Microsoft, please fix your file search interface in Windows 7. You could not have made it worse. I'm trying to search the contents of log files (e.g. *.log), for a keyword. I am not interested in turning on searching file names and contents on all files, or adding file types or locations to be included in your indexing algorithm. I am looking to perform a most basic search. This was so quick, easy, and intuitive, in Windows XP. The amount of time I am spending on this challenge is ridiculous. What's worse, is the amount of time my users are going to spend on this.

    • Proposed as answer by william speers Thursday, August 25, 2011 2:19 PM
    Monday, November 15, 2010 5:44 PM
  • Here is the fix: Super Finder XT

    You can do all the searches you'd like, basically what Win7 should have had from the start.

    Monday, November 15, 2010 7:53 PM
  • On Mon, 15 Nov 2010 17:44:04 +0000, JohnTrudeau wrote:

    Microsoft, please fix your file search interface in Windows 7. You could not have made it worse. I'm trying to search the contents of log files (e.g. *.log), for a keyword. I am not interested in turning on searching file names and contents on all files, or adding file types or locations to be included in your indexing algorithm. I am looking to perform a most basic search. This was so quick, easy, and intuitive, in Windows XP. The amount of time I am spending on this challenge is ridiculous. What's worse, is the amount of time my users are going to spend on this.

    This isn't Microsoft you're addressing, this is a peer support forum.
    We are all just users of this version of Windows here, helping each
    other if and when we can. We are not Microsoft employees (not even
    those of us with "Microsoft MVP" behind our names; that's an honorary
    title for having provided consistently helpful advice) except for an
    occasional employee.

    If you want to complain to Microsoft about something, please contact
    them directly. Trying to do it here is just a waste of (figurative)
    breath.


    Ken Blake, Microsoft MVP
    Tuesday, November 16, 2010 7:42 PM
  • windows 7 search and the inability to search file contents is an embarressment!
    billspeers.com - IT Consulting. Providing IT services to SF Bay Area and Abroad.
    Thursday, August 25, 2011 2:13 PM
  • I just did some (very quick) testing on the Windows 8 pre-beta developer release, creating folders containing .txt files with certain words in them. I tried searching for files containing the words and..."No items match your search".

    This is very early days for Windows 8 but this does not look good. Let's hope it improves.

    Also, Windows 8 suffers from the same problem as Windows 7 for non-indexed locations. You must change the indexing options on the file type (such as txt or log) so it is "Index properties and file contents" otherwise nothing is ever found.

    • Edited by Rob.Ford Thursday, September 15, 2011 2:58 AM
    Thursday, September 15, 2011 2:45 AM
  • I began looking through similar threads here when I realized W7 only searches for my specified text within files having particular extensions that Microsoft understands such as {.txt}.  I use vhdl, verilog and system verilog, all of which are unrecognized text files to Microsoft.

    Others have suggested http://www.mythicsoft.com/default.aspx Agentransack and in less than a minute I had the power to search for text strings within files within folders and subfolders. It has taken me more time to register with this forum just so I can give this tool my recommendation.

    Now I'm getting back to work.

    All the best!

    Thursday, August 09, 2012 3:07 PM