Tutorial Thursday

I’m sure all of you are probably getting sick of me raving about Vista’s incredible integrated search, but it really is that good. When you get your computer all setup the first thing you might want to do is choose what locations and filetypes Vista is allowed to index. Remember, you really want to keep your index as slim as possible because that will mean that the searches are performed even faster.

Here’s what you need to do to customize the way Vista indexes your computer:

  1. Go to the Start Menu and type index into the search field. Press Enter when the Indexing Options appears. Note: if prompted with a User Account Control (UAC) warning press Continue.
    Vista Index
  2. The screen that you should now be at is essentially the central hub for controlling Vista search indexing. First, you can modify the locations that are currently indexed by clicking the Modify button:
    Vista Index
  3. Now navigate through your hard drive and select which folders you want to be indexed. For example, if you only want to search your own files then select your directory in the “Users” folder. When you finish selecting the folders press the OK button.
    Vista Index
  4. Now you should be back on the main Indexing options screen pictured in Step 2. Select Advanced and on the popup window choose the File Types tab. Go through and unselect any of the filetypes that you don’t think you’ll ever need. You can always go back and change this later on, so it isn’t that big of a deal if you uncheck something you didn’t mean to.
    Vista Index
  5. Lastly, go back to the Index Settings tab and select the option to Rebuild the index. This will ensure that your index is updated with the latest settings you just chose by erasing everything that has already been indexed.
    Vista Index
  6. Press OK on that window and press Close on the next window to exit the Indexing Options.

When I have everything on my computer indexed right now with all of the different filetypes, it has about 75,000 files indexed. If I go through and filter out the directories that I don’t really use along with the filetypes that I don’t care for I can trim that down to 30,000 files. That’s a pretty big difference and I can definitely notice a difference in speed when searching for things.

I’ve been using the final release of Vista for a little over a month now and I am really pleased with how it handles. In pre-release builds of Vista the search indexer would frequently crash when I was in the middle of a search, but the only thing I have had crash on me thus far is Firefox…and that is to be expected since I am using Firefox 3 pre-release builds that are fairly unstable.

Some of you may argue that there are plenty of desktop search application out there, such as Google Desktop Search, that will provide the same instant results without the need to upgrade to Vista. That’s true, but I always found those applications to either slow down my computer or I would simply forget to use them. Vista’s search is always right there in front of your face, and there is no way that you’ll forget to use it. Heck, I use the Search Bar in the Start Menu to run programs over trying to find the shortcuts! Microsoft made it so simple to use that Search Bar as well…just press the Windows Key on the keyboard and start typing your search because the Search Bar automatically receives the focus when you open the Start Menu.

I would also like to close by mentioning a nifty little add-on that a Microsoft employee made to make the Search Bar even more powerful. It’s called Start++ and will let you create custom search strings that can either perform a search on a website or launch a program. It has all kinds of uses, and for more information checkout the post that we made about it.