HomeWindowsXP: Have Windows Perform Word or Phrase Searches within Unknown Filetypes

XP: Have Windows Perform Word or Phrase Searches within Unknown Filetypes

By default, Windows Search does not search for words or phrases for all filetypes. For programmers (and the rest of us) who have text-like files with odd extensions, this is an inconvenience.


By default, Windows Search only will find words or phrases within files that have a “known” filetype. For anyone that uses text-containing files with nonstandard extensions, Windows will not typically search this file.

I encounter this frequently when programming. I name my pre-compiled files by odd extensions. Other users may noticed that Windows will not search files without an extensions or common extensions such as *.log, *.h, *.xml, *.css. This seems nonsensical.

Here is how to fix it:

    1. Click Start.
    2. Click Search.
    3. Click Change Preferences.
    4. Click With Indexing Service (for faster local searches).
    5. Click Change Indexing Service Settings (Advanced). You do not have to enable the indexing service.
    6. Click the Show/Hide Console Tree button. (It does not have a label. It is to the right of the right arrow button and should be under the action menu.)
    7. Right-click on Indexing Service on Local Machine.
    8. Left-click on Properties.
    9. Select the checkbox with Index files with unknown extensions.
    10 Click OK.
    11. Close out the Indexing Service.
David Kirk
David Kirk
David Kirk is one of the original founders of tech-recipes and is currently serving as editor-in-chief. Not only has he been crafting tutorials for over ten years, but in his other life he also enjoys taking care of critically ill patients as an ICU physician.
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