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The Microsoft Windows Search Service itself is pretty powerful and contains a wealth of indexed information with which to find files. Of particular utility is its support for IFilter which allows third-parties to expose proprietary and binary file formats for indexing - perfect for when findstr just can't cut it.

However the only way to use the Search Service in Windows is with the tiny File Explorer Search box, with its own search syntax. Things improved in Windows 8 when the Explorer Ribbon added controls for building queries, but it's still far from perfect, my main criticisms are:

  • The search box is too small and manually resizing it is a pain
  • It always starts searching immediately as you type. This can be useful, but it's also a hindrance as it slows my entire system down (even with PCI-Express SSDs) before even I know what I'm looking for.
  • The autocomplete popup sometimes overwrites what I've just written, I don't know why this happens, but it's annoying.
  • Even after File Explorer has loaded all of the results, doing a simple view-only operation such as reordering the results will trigger a full re-execution of the search.
  • It's difficult to force it to search text files, or files that I know are text files (e.g. .json, .cs, etc).

Are there any decent third-party clients or front-ends for the Windows Search Service, that don't try to dumb-down the experience?

(Note: I already use VoidTools Everything Search, which is an amazing upgrade over Windows' built-in search, however it cannot search the contents of files or use Windows' own search index).

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Directory Opus has support for a "Find-As-You-Type field" that can be used to search and won't start a search until you hit enter.

To search inside text files, instead of using Windows Search, you can use a built-in Find Panel, as Opus has native support for that kind of search. You can also use a filter to restrict the search to selected extensions and file types only.

It has high DPI support, the font sizes may be customized and the search won't be triggered again by just changing ordination.

It also supports stored queries, so you don't have to retype frequently used queries.

You can read about all that here (online manual for the version 10 - the latest version is the 12, but I think the page for the version 10 will be a better presentation of the topic to you).

It is a paid and closed source program. (Disclosing just for the sake of completeness, that should not be a show stopper, as the program is awesome).

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