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Using Search Panel

Search panel is the most important area in XSearch. You use the search panel to specify options to search for files. Basically, you must at least select one folder to search for files in it. You can leave other settings at their default values. This will let XSearch find all files in the folder you selected.

File names

You can specify what to find in the first input box All or parts of the file name. It supports wildcard characters and multiple parts, so the following are all valid examples:

You can leave the file name box blank. If you don't specify any file name, it means that you want XSearch to search for all files in the selected folder(s).

File name options:

The file name options work like Google advanced search, you use one of those options to tell XSearch how to use the file name parts. The default one is All of the parts, a found file must contain all of the file name parts.

Case sensitive:

In Windows system, file names are all case-insensitive, but you can enable this option to force XSearch to perform a case-sensitive search.

It's possible to exclude files with -"string to exclude" format in file names, see Exclude files from searches.


You can specify words in the input box One or more words in the file , to let XSearch search for files that contain those words. Word box works like the file name box, only it doesn't support wildcards. The wildcard characters will be treated as the characters themselves.

Word options:

The logical options in word options work in the same way as file name logical options, except the default option is Any of the words.

Case sensitive:

By default, this option is enabled. This can save a lot of time for word searches.


Once this option is enabled, XSearch treats the inputted words as hexadecimal values. The words you provided must be valid hexadecimal values, otherwise, XSearch won't work correctly. Valid hexadecimal values can start with "0X" or "X". XSearch still supports multiple words in hexadecimal search.

Valid hexadecimal value examples:

When hexadecimal is enabled, XSearch can not perform case-insensitive searches, nor can it search for Unicode or UTF-8.

Unicode & UTF8:

With this option enabled, XSearch will try to search for the Unicode and UTF-8 versions of the words you specified. Note that it will still search for the basic ANSI version of the words, this means it will search for all the ANSI, Unicode and UTF-8 versions of the words.

Word searches take many more times than normal searches, since XSearch needs to open, read, and check each of the files. Only perform word searches when it's necessary.


Before XSearch can perform a search, you must first select one or multiple folders in the Search in box. This is the most important area, XSearch won't start a search if there isn't at least one valid folder specified.

You can input a folder directly into this box, or select a folder from the drop-down box. The drop down-box lists all the drives in the system, and the folders it has searched (history). You can click Browse to browse and select a folder.

XSearch supports to perform one search for multiple folders. You can specify multiple folders in this box, each separated by |. You can click the arrow icon on the Browse button, then choose Browse and Append to select a folder to append to the existing folder(s).

XSearch version 0.1 used ';' (semicolon) to separate multiple folders; it has been changed to '|' since version 0.2 to avoid confusion (because folder names can contain ';' too). The ';' can still be used in most cases for compatibility; XSearch is smart enough to understand and make the correct choices.

You can also use environment variable strings in folders, e.g., %temp%.


To use Size options, you must first select a size type: Bytes, KB, MB or GB. The default value is Don't care, so XSearch won't care about file size when performing searches.

There are two size areas can be used. You can combine them with logic AND, or use any one of them, and leave another one to be "Don't care".

The arrow icon next to the size type drop box is for quick size selection, you click it and a shortcut menu will display. You can select a predefined size range, such as "Large (1 - 16 MB)" and then XSearch will automatically fill in the size options for you.

Date Time

Date time options are similar to the Size options, by default it's Don't care, so XSearch won't use date time. You must first select which date time you want XSearch to use if you want to use date time options: date modified, date created, or date last visited.

Like Size options, XSearch provides two date time areas so you can combine them with logic AND, or use just one of them and leave another to be "Don't care".

You can let XSearch search for files by date and time, date only, or time only. For example, if you select Time and specify the time to be 12:00 AM, it wll then get the files that the (specified type of) time is 12:00 AM, and doesn't care the date.

There is also a quick selection icon next to the date time type drop box in this section, you can click it to quickly select a date time range such as "this week".

You may have noticed the option Use seconds in time in the quick selection icon, see Use seconds when search by date time for more information.


The advanced options are useful when you want to get only the files with special attributes. All options are selected by default, if you disable all options in this area, XSearch won't find any file.

Search normal files / Search read-only files / Search hidden files / Search system files:

These options let XSearch search for the files with the selected attributes.

Search in sub-folders:

This is a very important option. If you disable it, then XSearch won't search files in sub-folders of the folders you specified. It's not recommended to disable this option unless you know what it means.

Include folders in result:

You may have already noticed that XSearch (and most other search programs) will also list the found sub-folders in the search result. Sometimes it's just useful to only show the found files, so we provide this option in XSearch. If you disable this option, XSearch will only show found files in its result window.

Search Button

By clicking the Search button, XSearch starts to search with all the options you have set in the search panel. This button will become Cancel during searching. You can click it to cancel the search at any time.

If you click on the arrow icon on this button, it will pop up a menu and give you more options:

Cancel Search:

Cancel current search, same to clicking the button while the search is in progress.

Search in Result:

It can be used to filter the search results with new search settings. XSearch lists search results in its main window after it has done a search, or loaded a search result file. You can then specify new search settings such as new file name parts, new date time options, etc., and then choose this menu item to let XSearch get the new results from the existing results. Items don't match the new options will be removed from the results.

All options in the search panel, except the "Search in" area, will affect the final result when using the "Search in Result" feature. The folder(s) in "Search in" will just be skipped.

Undo Search in Result:

It's possible to undo the previous "Search in Result" operation with this feature. However, XSearch only records one level result history, so if you did multiple "Search in Result" operations, XSearch can only undo one level.

When a "Search in Result" or "Undo Search in Result" operation is in progress, you can click Cancel to cancel the operation too.

Other Menu Items and Features

Load/save/export search results

Search results can be saved by choosing menu FileSave Search.... The saved search result files can be loaded later by choosing menu FileLoad Search...

You can also export the current search result to a text document by choosing FileExport Search... The exported file can be loaded by Microsoft Excel or similar programs as a tab delimited text file.

Search result files can be opened by XSearch directly when you double-click on them, if the file type has been registered to the system. See Shell extensions.

Shell operations (copy, rename etc.)

XSearch supports common file operations on the found items in its result window, such as copy, cut, rename and so on. Common hotkeys are also supported.

You are also allowed to drag the selected items to desktop, any explorer window, or any program that supports drag and drop.

View modes

You can switch the view mode of the result window, such as Details, List, Tiles, Icons and large Icons, under the menu View.

Not all view modes can be used on old systems, the Tiles and Large Icons modes may not work under Windows 2000.

Sort & group

You can sort the result by choosing menu ViewSort By, and group the result by choosing menu ViewGroup By.

Sorting can also be done by clicking on column headers in the result window. Clicking on those column headers will also affect groups if groups have been enabled for the result.

Sorting and grouping can be done automatically if you set up XSearch to do so, see Options.

Default search

Default Search is the default search settings that XSearch will load each time it starts. Default search is actually a search result file with empty file items in it. Each time XSearch starts, it tries to load the default search file.

To create the default search file, set the search settings on the search panel, then choose menu ToolsDefault SearchSave As Default Search. You can save any search result as the default search. When saving search result as default search, found items will always be discarded, only settings will be saved.

XSearch loads the default search at startup; you can also load the default search at any time manually by using menu ToolsDefault SearchLoad Default Search.

The Save Search Settings to... under the same menu can be used to save search settings to a file. This is actually similar to saving the search result under File menu, the only difference is that this menu item won't save found items. You can use those search settings files to keep your most frequently used search settings so that you can reload them quickly, or use them with command line switch /In=[filename].

Shell extensions

XSearch doesn't need to be installed. It won't register itself to the system, so that search result files created by it can not be opened directly when you double-click on them in Explorer windows, because Windows doesn't know what those files are.

You may also want to add XSearch to the context menu of Windows Explorer, so that you can right-click on any drive or folder and choose XSearch to search files in it directly.

Those can be done by using the menu ToolsShell Extensions... The dialog box itself has already explained these features. The only thing we need to explain here is the UAC (User Account Control) of Windows Vista and later:

Because enabling these features requires registering XSearch to the system, administrator privileges are needed. With UAC enabled, you are actually a limited user under Windows Vista/7 and later, even your account is in the administrators group. Thus, XSearch needs to elevate access rights. When it does that, Windows will ask you to confirm. You must allow it so that it can register itself to the system.

Unregistering also needs administrator privileges.


Choose menu ToolsOptions... to open the options window.

Keep last sort and group states

If you have done sorting and/or grouping with the previous result, XSearch will perform the same sorting and grouping with the result after it completes a new search.

Sort items automatically after finished search

Performs the default sorting operation after finishing a search. The default sort is sorting by file name in ascending order. Note: If the "Keep last sort and group states" is enabled and performed, this option will be skipped.

Group items automatically after finished search

Performs the default grouping operation after finishing a search. The default group is grouping by modified date time in ascending order. Note: If the "Keep last sort and group states" is enabled and performed, this option will be skipped.

Do not keep folders on top of the list when sort items

Treats folders as files, so folders will not be kept at the top (or bottom in descending order). Most search programs, including XSearch will keep the folders at the top/bottom of the list when you sort the found items. XSearch provides this option so you can overwrite that behavior.

Remove non-existent items from list when load search result

When XSearch loads a previously saved search result file, it checks each item in the file, and removes items that no longer exist in the system.

Allow operations (Open etc.) for multiple selected items

If you select more than one item in the list, the following menu commands will be disabled: Open, Open Containing Folder and HexView. With this option, XSearch will allow you to use those menu commands when multiple items are selected.

Ask to confirm when cancel search

Pops up a window to ask you if you want to cancel the search.

Do not obtain information for EXE, DLL, URL, LNK files etc.

Those special files contain additional information. XSearch will automatically obtain this information in addition to the basic information. The information will be shown on the details panel (status bar) if you select a file, or in a tooltip window when you point mouse cursor over a file.

If you enable this option, XSearch will not obtain this information. It treats those special files as normal files. This can save time and system resources.

Do not show search progress

Does not show search progress information on the details panel during searching.

Do not search words if file size larger than

Searching large files for words will take a lot of extra time. XSearch needs to open those files and read each byte of them. If you specify a value other than 0 (zero) here, then all files that are larger than that size (MB) will be skipped, when XSearch needs to search words in files.

By default this value is 0, all files will be scanned.

Do not use "Open With" menu item

Open With menu item will show other programs that can be used to open the selected file. Each time you select a file, XSearch reads the system registry database and constructs that menu.

It will affect the speed of menus, so you can enable this option to turn the "Open With" feature off.

Do not save search history

Search history, such as the inputted strings in the file names box, the words box and the folders box, will not be saved if you enable this option.

Note: Existing search history will NOT be automatically deleted even if you enable this option. You need to use menu ToolsClear Search History... to clear existing history.


Click the Font... button to change the font for XSearch. The selected font will be used by most of the user interfaces in XSearch.

Font color will not be used, XSearch always uses system color settings.

Command line switches

You can use XSearch in command scripts (.CMD or .BAT files) with its command line switches. command line format:

XSearch.exe [Folder] /switch[=value] ...


Example: XSearch.exe C:\Windows

If you specify a folder in command line, XSearch automatically uses it as the folder in the "Search in" box.

It can also be a search result file. XSearch will load the result file instead. In this case, it is same to the switch /In=filename.


Example: XSearch.exe /In=D:\MyResult.xsearch

XSearch loads the specified result file when it starts. Normally, this is a search settings file created by the menu Save search settings to...


Example: XSearch.exe /Out=D:\MyResult.xsearch

XSearch will perform the search, save the result to the specified file, and then quit. If you use this switch, XSearch will always quit after it finishes a search.


XSearch will perform the search immediately after its main window is displayed, without waiting for you to click the "Search" button.


Forces XSearch to quit. We normally do not use this switch, it's for special tasks.


Starts the HexView and opens the file specified in filename. If you do not specify a file name, then it starts a blank HexView window.

File/folder names must be enclosed by quotation marks if there are spaces in the path, e.g., "D:\My Folder".

Use multiple switches

Switches can be combined. Examples:

HexView Tool

XSearch provides a HexView tool to help view files in hexadecimal. With its buffering technology, HexView can open huge files (2 GB or larger) immediately, and there is no size limit.

To view a file in the result list, select a file in the list, then choose menu FileHexView..., or you can right-click on the file, then choose HexView...

HexView can be used to view any file, not only those files in the search result of XSearch. You can choose menu FileOpen... or Open in New Window... in HexView, to open a file.

HexView can also be used directly without launching XSearch, by using the command line switch /HexView=[FileName]. For more information, see Command line switches.

There is no need to learn how to use this tool, because it works as a read-only editor. You can easily use it like other editors.

Choose menu EditCopy to copy selected portion to clipboard, Copy as Hex to copy selected portion in hexadecimal to clipboard.

HexView also supports to search for words in the opened file, with menu item EditFind... The searches in HexView also support ANSI, UTF-8, Unicode and Hex, however, please note that you can only specify a single word to search, the SPACE character will be treated as the space character itself.

Jump to... is a useful command, you can use it to jump to a specific offset of the file quickly without using the scroll bar.

Tips & Tricks

Font will be bold for non-default settings

The option groups, such as "File name options", "File Size" etc., in the search panel, can be expanded and show additional options.

If you changed the default setting under an option group, its caption will become bold when you click it again to collapse it. Changing default settings will affect search results. You can easily know if anything was changed under an option group with this feature.

Double-click on the details panel to start/cancel search

Double-clicking on the icon of details panel (the status bar) is same to clicking the Search button. You double-click it to start the search, and you double-click it again to cancel an in-progress search.

This can be useful if the search button has become invisible because some option groups on the search panel have been expanded. Instead of scrolling the search panel to the bottom to find the search button to start a search, you can double-click on the icon.

Exclude files from searches

It's possible to exclude files with the format -"string to exclude" when specifying file names. The excluding string must be enclosed by quotation marks and start with a leading minus sign. It supports wildcard characters, and there can also be multiple excluding strings.

For example: *.txt -"abc" -"k*.txt" will exclude all files whose file name contains 'abc' and the first character of the file name is 'k', while searching for all .txt files.

Use seconds when searching by date time

By default, XSearch allows you to specify the time in the format HH:MM when searching by date time, which means it won't care about the seconds in the file time. You can click on the quick selection icon (right after the first drop-down box under File Size option group), and choose Use seconds in time.

That option will enable XSearch to use seconds in time, such as "12:00:01 AM".

Limits on Windows x64 editions

In order to work on both 32- and 64-bit systems, XSearch was created as a 32-bit program, because a 32-bit program can work on both 32- and 64-bit systems, while a 64-bit program can only work on the 64-bit system.

This causes a problem with the Windows X64 system and the WOW64 file redirection. Some of its features may not work correctly when you search for files in the Windows folder (C:\Windows) on a 64-bit system. XSearch can find the files without problem, but you may not be able to access those files found in the System32 folder (in XSearch only, of course, the system won't be affected).

We didn't create a 64-bit version of XSearch because we think that most of you will not need to search files in the system folder. However, if you do want to do that, let us know and we will consider creating a 64-bit version.

Limit: Renaming may not work correctly for multiple items on XP

XSearch can rename multiple files. If you select more than one item in the result window and choose menu FileRename. It works by calling a system API. There will be no problem if you use this feature under Windows Vista/7 and later, but it may not work correctly under Windows 2000/XP.

Example: Get all non-ready-only files in a folder

By using XSearch, you can perform many advanced searches that Windows Search and most other search tools can not accomplish.

For example, if you want to get all non-ready-only files in a folder, you only need to change the settings under the Advanced option group, clear the selection of option Search read-only files (and if you only want it to return files, clear option "Include folders in result" too).


XSearch is freeware. You can use this software without paying a fee.

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