I recently received notification about a new and powerful desktop search tool for Windows PCs. It is actually free for private users.
This is the type of tool that is especially valuable for anyone who (like me) is not as organized as they ought to be about saving files in logical places. But actually, Lookeen Free will be useful to anyone who can benefit from a rapid method for finding any file just by searching for a keyword (or words).
I once used Google Desktop Search for this purpose, but this was discontinued by Google in 2012 and the version I had on my computer stopped working properly very soon after. As I mentioned, Lookeen Free is available to download free of charge. The only limitation compared with the paid version is that you can only search one hard drive (normally the C drive). If you have multiple or partitioned drives, or want to search on network drives as well, you will probably need the full business version. But, of course, for many writers, the ability to search your own hard disk/drive is all we require.
I found downloading and installing Lookeen Free an easy and intuitive process. By default the software is set to index every folder and sub-folder on your drive, but if you wish you can exclude some (e.g. system folders) via the Options menu. One other thing to note is that before you can use Lookeen Free, the software will need to index your drive. This doesn’t happen automatically the first time you start the software. You will need to click on Start in the Index menu, and away the software will go.
How long indexing will take depends on how many indexable files you have on your drive. It turned out that I had around 140,000, which took several hours in all. You can use Lookeen Free while it is still indexing, but of course the results then may not be complete.
Lookeen Free indexes a range of file types. As well as the text and word-processing files you might expect, it also indexes image files, PowerPoint files, Excel spreadsheet files, web page files, and so on. Searching using Lookeen Free is then just a matter of entering the relevant keywords in the search box. There are also a few modifiers you can use. For example, a minus sign in front of a word will exclude any results including that word from appearing in the results list.
You can also put any search term within double quotes to ensure that only exact matches are displayed. Both of these modifiers are just the same as ones you can use on Google, of course. To show you what Lookeen Free search results look like, here is the result of a sample search I performed using the term “screenwriting”. As you can see, Lookeen Free instantly found 49 results. By highlighting any one of them, you can actually read and access the document in question.
In my opinion Lookeen Free is a very cool tool, and it’s certainly a lot better and faster than the basic file search available within Windows. If you decide to give it a try, I’ll be very interested to hear how you get on. Please leave any comments below as usual.
Important Update – January 2016. Unfortunately it appears that Lookeen is no longer free. There is now only a 10-day free trial version available from the website. Another tool which is still free is Everything, available from http://www.snapfiles.com/get/everything.html. This only searches filenames, however, so you can’t use it to search within content.