Friday, May 6, 2011

Windows 7 File Finder: Review of "Everything"

I had used the pro version of AvaFind in Windows XP for years.  AvaFind was a pop-up file finder.  I would hit Shift-Esc and it would come up and let me search for files; no need to mouse around to start the program from Start Menu or system tray.  It was more intelligent than others that I had used, in terms of flexibility with wildcard searches.  It also allowed me to do file manipulation by right-clicking and choosing Explorer options.  So if I searched for a file and found it in an unexpected place, I could right-click and move it to another folder, or copy or delete it.

In Windows 7, unfortunately, AvaFind kept crashing.  I could not get it to install at all on one computer.  It was past time to find a real replacement.  I had searched previously and had found that Instant File Find functioned as a poor imitation, but after a while I had gone back to trying to keep AvaFind alive.  At this point, however, that had pretty much ceased to be possible.  AvaFind was just not working in Win7.

After another look at a Gizmo webpage reviewing file finders, I decided to try Everything, another file finder that I had often encountered in these searches for an AvaFind substitute.  I downloaded the zip file to get the portable version, which I could then install (and keep backed up) on my customized Start Menu on one computer and have it automatically propagate to the other on my network, thanks to GoodSync.

Part of my reason for choosing Everything was that it did not index file contents.  I had already bought a copy of Copernic Desktop Search and was using that for that purpose.  Content search tended to mean that the program would often if not constantly be searching the contents of files.  Having two separate programs doing that could seriously slow the computer down.  I could have relied on Copernic solely, but its search for file contents (instead of a search solely for file names) made it relatively slow, and buried me in search results that were not what I wanted.  Copernic was 90% satisfactory for my content searching purposes; I just needed a substitute for the filename search capability formerly provided by AvaFind.

After extracting and moving the Everything.exe portable file to my Start Menu, I ran it.  I went into Tools > Options and made several adjustments.  I needed to look up what some of these options meant.  The FAQs were helpful but not very informative.  For instance, they gave me a favorable impression of Everything's extensive search options, but that happened when I was actually trying to understand whether it was possible to set a hotkey to bring up the search dialog.  (No info on the hotkey in the FAQs.)  There did not seem to be a manual.  And who could complain, for a free program -- though it did seem that a wiki might have been a good alternative.  Whatever:  the point is, I had to search around in the forum and, when that yielded too many results, I had to run a more targeted Google search.  Eventually, I found an explanation that got me partway to the answer to my question.  It turned out that, to set the Everything hotkey to be the same as the one that I had used to start AvaFind (i.e., Shift-Esc), I needed to go into Tools > Options > General tab.  There, I set "New window Hotkey modifier" to be Shift, and I set "New window Hotkey key" to be VK_ESCAPE.  I saw that the Escape key would also close the pop-up Everything search window, just like in AvaFind.  So far, so good.

The search results were not perfect.  I searched for HP*manual and got nothing.  I had to change it to HP*manual*.pdf to get the file called "HP Officejet Manual.pdf."  This was odd because a simple search for HP would find the manual, among a million other files.  A search for HP*manual*.* worked too.  Instant File Find had had the same weakness:  with the wildcard, it had to have the extension specified.  I felt, at first, that this flaw would not be major, except in those instances where I would not think to tweak the search in just the right way.  As I continued to use the program, however, I found it increasingly frustrating to be unable to guess how I was supposed to arrange wildcards.  Probably a majority of my first searches produced nothing.  Example:  a search for 2011-03-15*.pdf produced no results, even though the drives being searched contained at least four PDFs beginning with 2011-03-15.  The FAQs seemed to indicate that the asterisk was used both as a wildcard and as a regex indicator that there must be "zero or more" occurrences of the preceding character.  A search of the Everything support forum for "asterisk" yielded nothing.  A search for "wildcard" led to very little:  eight posts, of which five were in a thread titled "Wildcard searches not working."  This thread had some advice.  First, I was to go into Everything > Search > uncheck "Enable Regex."  That made an immediate difference.

Many things about Everything impressed me.  It was a very smooth program.  I wish it would have shown the results of my last search by default when I killed it too soon and then restarted it -- or at least that it would have had a drop-down box remembering what I had searched for.  Somewhere in the process, I came across a reference to another program, UltraFileSearch, that sounded very intriguing, but by that time I really had little hope that I would find a program more like what I wanted than Everything, so I did not investigate it.



Never ever had any problems whatsoever running avafind on windows 7 (both 32 and 64bit). Still running it today.


I absolutely love Ava find. I have been using it since 2003 and it still works great for me. “Everything” is an ok replacement but I still like Ava find better. “Everything” does not seem to have some features that Ava Find has, such as, auto selecting previously open file in search results, shift+Esc hot key, list of recently changed files, basic or detailed view, rick click options such as copy path and open folder, and my picks list.

Needless to say it’s sad that it hasn’t been changed it 8 years. Nothing about the GUI or design really needs to be changed just a few bug fixes and OS compatibly needs to be done. I would really hate to see it updated and be modern ribbonized crapified or something. With like less than 10 minor bug fixes it would be perfect
I can’t seem to find any info about this company or anything. It does seem like someone keeping the lights on paying the dns, updating copyright footer on some pages. After you sign up and login on the Ava find site, there is one page that says its supports windows 7: The version that Ava Find shows on the download file on the site and show a different version though that what the site says.


A couple of additions and corrections on that last comment. You can set Everything to have a variety of hotkeys; I do have mine set to open with Shift-Esc. I don't remember, now, whether Ava Find allowed multiple sessions, but I find that to be very useful in Everything. Everything also does have those right-click options. I never used some of the other features in Ava Find and don't use them in Everything either, so I can't say which is better.

On balance, I don't miss Ava Find anymore, which is better than I would have expected. I really loved it while I was using it. I, too, wish the developer had kept it updated for use with Windows 7, 64-bit, etc. The first commenter (above) says s/he is using it there. Wish it had worked for me too.

But for newcomers, Everything is free. Based on my own experience, I wouldn't recommend Ava Find anymore. But I'm glad to see there are still some diehards. I think it would be great if the developer brought the same creativity to an update that he put into the original. I'm sure Everything could be seriously outclassed in that case.


Read an article somewhere that said that the developer died a couple o years back in a freak road accident right out of the Final destination movies.
So there's no point waiting for a newer version of Avafind..


Have you signed in to their site recently? In the past year or so there was an update I think. It says Ava Find Pro and newer supports windows 7. You have to sign in to get the latest version.


Very interesting. What you say is right. If you just go to the site, you see a version from 2004. But if you sign in, you see this:

"Ava Find Pro 1.5.2: Reliability update, improved support for Windows 7 (upgrade recommended). Ava Find Pro is Windows 7 compatible starting with version Product key is no longer needed for installation."

The version I bought in 2007 was about 1.0 MB. Not sure what version. But this new version 1.5.2 is 1.28MB. The site has been updated to 2011, but the version available to those who don't have an account is still 2004. Confusing.

Anyway, I've installed the new version and will give it a whirl. "Everything" is still good but has been acting up now and then.


I was a big fan of Ava Find, but the Everything Search Engine is so much faster and better. Make sure you get the Version though. The one on the home page at isn't the best one.


Good call. I didn't know about A search confirms it does exist and is available for download at Softpedia and elsewhere.