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Free is good, but I am willing to pay consumer prices (~$40) for a full-text search tool that does a thorough job with many filters.

When I say "full-text," I don't mean Everything or other filename search tools. I mean something that will examine the entire contents of a variety of text files (e.g., TXT, DOCX, XLSX, PDF).

For example, I might want to find all PDF files, on multiple drives, that were composed within the past two weeks, that contain the phrase "monkey see, monkey do," whose filenames contain "2021" and whose file sizes are at least 100Kb.

Copernic is, or at least used to be, an example of what I'm looking for. I bought a copy, some years ago, and for a while it was good. But then -- starting maybe with the transition to Windows 10 -- it turned flaky.

Note that I am looking for a tool that uses indexing. I want it to save an index of what it finds. That way, I won't have to wait five minutes (or an hour) for it to run a new search, every time I want to find something. The idea of the index is that the program will do that searching on its own time; it will have already found all word and phrase combinations before I ask. I don't mind if the index is huge, as long as it's fast.

I am interested in good suggestions for software that runs in either Windows or Linux. Cross-platform is ideal but not necessary. If you only know of a good tool for Windows, or for Linux, that's fine.

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  • 1
    Not a software suggestion, more of a comment/insight about this. I completely understand where you're coming from, and I do remember the good old days of Google Desktop Search, which gave birth to the likes of Copernic. For some reason, the only 'good' same-host solution today for Windows is the one baked in to windows already. As for a more complex solution - check out NextCloud combined with Elastic Search full text. It's a chore to setup, but works nice.
    – Lockszmith
    Sep 4, 2021 at 23:30

3 Answers 3

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I've tested Recoll.

From the documentation :

Recoll is based on the very capable Xapian search engine library, for which it provides a powerful text extraction layer and a complete, yet easy to use, Qt graphical interface.

  • Versions are available for Linux, MS Windows and Mac OS X.
  • It can search most document formats. You may need external applications for text extraction.
  • It can reach any storage place: files, archive members, email attachments, transparently handling decompression.
  • One click will open the document inside a native editor or display an even quicker text preview.
  • A WEB front-end with preview and download features can replace or supplement the GUI for remote use.
  • The software is free on Linux, open source, and licensed under the GPL.

It is Pay what you want on Windows. You can test it on Linux first.

In the user manual you can find the following info about Real time indexing (Only available on Unix-like systems) : recollindex runs permanently as a daemon and uses a file system alteration monitor (e.g. inotify) to detect file changes. New or updated files are indexed at once. Monitoring a big file system tree can consume significant system resources.

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Datashare (free/open source)

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Datashare is a free open-source desktop application developed by non-profit International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

Datashare allows investigative journalists to:

access all their documents in one place locally on their computer while securing them from potential third-party interferences search pdfs, images, texts, spreadsheets, slides and any files, simultaneously automatically detect and filter by people, organizations and locations

The User Manual should show it matches requirements.

References

It is/was used to search through massive collections:

Extendible

It has an API and you can extend the source with your own plugins if needed.

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  • There is a demo. Seems great.
    – Gounou
    Sep 5, 2021 at 12:29
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I must say you got me intrigued. I've been using Everything for a lot of years now since Google Desktop Search has died, and Copernic always seemed a bit off.

With @Gounou's suggestion Recoll, I started going the AlternativeTo.Net rabbit-hole.

I got reacquainted with Agent Ransack (A.K.A FileLocator Lite and it's bigger brother Pro), but the free version doesn't have indexing included.

And most FOSS projects of this sort seem to be outdated.

There was one sliver of light, an open source project that is still maintained called AnyTXT Searcher

I've installed it for testing, and am still waiting on the indexing to complete, if this works this one looks like a winner.

Update

The project doesn't seem to be FOSS, its binaries are distributed via SourceForge.

Also, this, like Agent Ransack is a Windows only solution.

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  • I don't think AnyTXT Searcher is open source. At installation there is this message : All copyrights exclusively owned by the author. At SourceForge where it is hosted, only binaries are accessible. I've tested the software on Windows 10 (it isn't cross-platform). It started indexing at first launch without asking for options (include/exclude paths or file formats) and I didn't see an indicator for number of files indexed. There is no advanced search. Positive points : AES256 Encryption for the index and a simple user interface. Thanks for sharing. Is your index complete?
    – Gounou
    Sep 5, 2021 at 15:15
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    Yes, you are right about all of those points, I'll edit my answer. As for the numbers, I would agree the UI is horrible, but when you enter the UI to manage the extensions to scan, you will see those. The index was complete rather quickly, I did not let it scan *, which I guess will slow down the process considerably, and I noticed C:\Windows is excluded by default - which is a good thing.
    – Lockszmith
    Sep 6, 2021 at 21:02

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