Simple freeware text file search program for Windows
Thread poster: Samuel Murray

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:27
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Sep 15, 2017

Hello everyone

Can you recommend a simple, small, freeware file search application that runs on Windows 7 that I can use to find out which text files (i.e. TXT, HTML, etc) in a directory tree contain a given search string? I want something fast, but I want something that starts to display the results as soon as it had processed the first file. I don't want indexed search.

Right now I use Agent Ransack, which is great, but it first creates a list of files to search before it starts displaying any results. This is fine for directory trees of less than e.g. 50 MB, but for larger trees (500-1000 MB) it's too slow, particularly if I'm confident that the result I'm looking for will be present in many files (i.e. I could probably stop the search shortly after it had started).

If the tool can do find/replace across multiple files, that'd be cool, but it is not necessary.

Thanks
Samuel


 

Volodymyr Pedchenko
Local time: 02:27
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
dnGrep Sep 15, 2017

You can try dnGrep - http://dngrep.github.io/

It may fit your needs well.


 

Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 01:27
English to Russian
+ ...
What's wrong with MS Windows search? Sep 15, 2017

Windows search does exactly that. I don't quite understand why you don't want your search to be indexed, but you can turn off indexing, too, by opening the Properties page of the folder in question and unchecking the indexing options in Advanced attributes. The search will work the same way, it only affects its speed.

 

wotswot  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:27
Member (2011)
French to English
Try this freebie, I use it all the time Sep 15, 2017

http://findandreplace.codeplex.com/

It works beautifully, and does bulk replacing too. Much clearer than searching in Windows Explorer, because it searches the CONTENTS of the files in the target directory and displays the context of the search term, whereas Windows Explorer simply returns a list of files. It has all the basic options you'd expect to find, such as Case sensitve, Include subdirectories and Use regular expressions (although I haven't yet figured out which "dialect" of regex it uses, please post here if you know).


 

Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:27
Member
English to French
SR.exe Sep 15, 2017

http://www.funduc.com/search_replace.htm
It has a lot of features I don't need or know, but to search a folder full of .csv and .txt files, it's very handy. However, I'm not sure how it fares compared to your current tool in terms of speed. I still run my 2004 registered version on my W7 64-bit, and it may no longer be freeware...

Although I no longer do MS stuff (software string translation search), I still use it to search folders of "personal notes" (feedback, personal glossaries...) and industry-specific .csv glossaries.

Philippe


 

Jesús Pulido Ruiz
India
Local time: 05:57
Member (2016)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Free commander Sep 15, 2017

Hello Samuel!

I had your same concern some time ago, because the default search tool coming with Windows is very slow and sometimes I need to find a text inside the files in the hard drive... so I just typed "alternatives to Windows Explorer" and found a few recommendations.

After trying a few different freeware tools, some better and others worse than Windows Explorer now I only use freecommander (http://freecommander.com/en/summary/), mainly because uses very little memory from the computer and also the search engine in like you want, fast and accurate.

I hope this helps.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:27
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
@Everyone Sep 15, 2017

Anton Konashenok wrote:
Windows search does exactly that.


Thanks, but Windows Search finds no hits in folders where Agent Ransack finds dozens. I've tried Windows Search with the option of searching the content of non-indexed files, so it should have found it. The search query was "nie-" (without the quotes).



Thanks, I'm aware of FNR.exe (I use it e.g. to do bulk updates to my WFC INI files), but FNR.exe doesn't display search results immediately after beginning the search. FNR.exe first creates a list of all files, and only after it created the list, it performs the search and displays results. The test folder has 200 000 files in it and is 500 MB in total (10 GB on disk). It takes FNR.exe several minutes to create a file list before it even begin to perform the search.

Volodymyr Pedchenko wrote:
You can try dnGrep - http://dngrep.github.io/


Thanks. I'm impressed by dnGrep's speed and by the fact that it has a handy regex tester so that you can see if your search would match what you think it would match. The only downside of dnGrep (and this is a bit of a biggie) is that the results window does not have word wrap (as far as I can tell). Search results begin to appear immediately, and pressing Escape stops the search.

Philippe Etienne wrote:
http://www.funduc.com/search_replace.htm
I still run my 2004 registered version on my W7 64-bit, and it may no longer be freeware...


It's shareware but AFAIK it will continue working after the end of the trial period. It offers features similar to that of dnGrep, but unfortunately suffers from the same dysfunction: no word wrap in the results window.

Jesús Pulido Ruiz wrote:

I had your same concern some time ago, because the default search tool coming with Windows is very slow and sometimes I need to find a text inside the files in the hard drive... so I just typed "alternatives to Windows Explorer" and found a few recommendations.


Thanks for the tip -- I'll keep Explorer replacements in mind (there are a few out there).

==

I also tried AntConc, thinking that a concordancer should be able to do this sort of search (then you don't need word wrap either, since all found instances are aligned in the centre of the window). However, AntConc also needs to create a file list first, before you can search it.


 

esperantisto  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:27
Member (2006)
English to Russian
+ ...
Double Commander Sep 15, 2017

Double Commander is a multi-platform file manager with a file search ability that fits your requirements (as I understand them).

https://doublecmd.sourceforge.io/


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:27
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
On using explorer replacements Sep 15, 2017

esperantisto wrote:
Double Commander is a multi-platform file manager with a file search ability that fits your requirements (as I understand them).


The shortcut for doing a search in Double Commander is Alt+F7. A list of results immediately start to appear in the Results pane. But there is no preview. I can click a result, which takes me to the folder that the file is in, and the file is selected, but I still need to open it and search for the search string manually.

FreeCommander has the same deficiency. I know I did not specifically mention that I want to see the found phrase in context (i.e. in a preview), but... well... yes, that is kind of the idea.


 

Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 01:27
English to Russian
+ ...
Windows search Sep 16, 2017

Samuel Murray wrote:
Thanks, but Windows Search finds no hits in folders where Agent Ransack finds dozens. I've tried Windows Search with the option of searching the content of non-indexed files, so it should have found it. The search query was "nie-" (without the quotes).


Just tried a similar search on two machines, one with Windows 7 and one with Windows 10. Windows 7 did indeed seem to have problems with non-indexed files but searched OK once I turned indexing back on again (or maybe it required some extra options to be turned on to do it right). Windows 10 searched fine in both cases.


 

Aliseo Japan
Japan
Local time: 09:27
Member
Italian to Japanese
+ ...
DocFetcher Sep 17, 2017

An excellent alternative:

http://docfetcher.sourceforge.net/en/index.html


 


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