Improving Search Indexer

Search indexer screenshot

Since our last post about Windows Search, many Windows Insiders have mentioned problems finding files on their PC, and our team knew we wanted to investigate. As you all pointed out, search was limited to documents, pictures, videos, and desktop folders. We’re responding to this feedback with some key updates.

So how has Windows Search gotten to where it’s at now, and how are Windows Insiders helping us determine what’s next? Let’s take a look!

Enhanced mode for Search Indexer

To improve our search indexing, we created a new feature called Find My Files that lets Windows search all your folders and drives, instead of limiting search to your documents, pictures, videos, and desktop by default. This new feature is currently available for Windows Insiders to preview in Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 18267.

To turn it on, go to Settings > Search > Searching Windows, and under Find My Files, choose Enhanced to start the indexing process.

Settings with "Enhanced search" selected

This one-time process will take about 15 minutes for search to index these additional files, so it can return them in results. If you have a lot of files, it may take longer. Also make sure you plug in your device before you start.

When the indexing is complete, you’ll be able to find all your files almost instantly when you use search. To exclude a folder from search, add it to the Excluded Folders list in the Searching Windows section of Settings.

Settings with exclude folders selected

To help improve performance, search automatically excludes temporary folders and OS files, as well as folders and files that change quickly, like program data folders. You can add and remove folders from this list to further personalize your search experience.

Known issues

This is a preview feature, and we have a few known issues we’re working to fix for a future build:

  • If you update the list of excluded folders, and then switch between Enhanced > Classic > Enhanced, those changes might be lost.
  • The UI doesn’t always update right away to show that Enhanced mode is active.
  • The Excluded Folders list will flicker while indexing for the first time.

Indexing temporary folders and OS files by removing them from the excluded list will slow down your system’s performance. We strongly recommend you don’t remove items from the default list.

Monitor indexing activity

Insiders also said that it would be helpful to know more about what the search indexer was doing in the background, and we agree! Your Indexing Status is now visible on the new Searching Windows section of Settings.

Indexing status showing message, Indexed items, and Pending items

The Indexing Status updates in real time, to give you detailed updates, including issues that may require your attention.

  • The pending count only includes items the indexer knows it needs to index at that moment. If you add another set of files to be indexed, the pending number will grow as it discovers new folders and files.
  • Indexing Status doesn’t currently include an estimate of the remaining time. If you think a timer would be useful, let us know in the Feedback Hub.

What’s next

You might notice we still haven’t covered some of the performance issues that were called out in the previous article. We’re continuing to work on these and other issues to make performance even better, and we have a few experiments related to this going out to Insiders soon.

All of these improvements are only possible because of your feedback, so tell us in the Feedback Hub under the Category > Cortana and Search > Find My Files what you’d like to see next. For example, if you’d like Enhanced mode be the default setting, let us know!