There are very few apps I can’t imagine life without, but at the top of that short list is Everything. I’ve used it for over a decade and it’s an integral part of my Windows experience.
What is everything?
Everything is a free Windows file search app created by programmer David Carpenter in 2008. We shared Everything with our readers for the first time shortly after, and some of us, like you, have been using it ever since.
The most notable thing about Everything is speed, which is why we single it out every time we talk about finding Windows faster.
If you’ve ever used Windows File Search or even some third-party file search tools, the most memorable thing about the experience is how long it takes.
Even after all these years, Windows file search is agonizingly slow. Truly, it is agony. In an age of cheap SSDs with instant boot and instant program loading, waiting thirty seconds for Windows to complete a search feels like torture. It doesn’t matter if you’re still using Windows 7 or if you’ve upgraded to Windows 11, Windows search has never been fast.
Everything circumvents the shortcomings of Windows File Search by doing something that was new when the app was first released and is still new: it directly accesses the file table at the file system level for lightning-fast search.
How fast is it? It’s so fast that if you create a new file, when you open the All search box a moment later, the file is instantly in the index. It is unlikely that you will be able to create the file and get to the search box fast enough to overcome the almost instantaneous addition of the entry to the Todo index.
The only drawback to Everything is that it works with the file table and file names and does not index the contents of the files. If you need a tool that will drill down into documents and help you find key phrases, this isn’t it. But if you’re just trying to find where, exactly, you put that
2022 Johnson Farms Drilling Proposal Rev.A.pdf file or your tax returns from five years ago, is almost magical in its speed and efficiency.
And here is why I find everything indispensable
I titled this article “I can’t imagine using Windows without the Everything app,” and I say that without a bit of hyperbole. I’ve used Everything every day since it came out and on various versions of Windows, Windows XP through Windows 11, various computer upgrades, and on every Windows machine I’ve owned.
It is a perfect tool for someone like me. I have a large number of files, in a large number of folders and drives. But as long as you name files and folders sensibly as they come in, it doesn’t matter where they end up. They could be on drive C, drive G, or even buried on a network drive hosted in my basement (you can enable scanning for network drives in Everything settings).
It doesn’t matter where the files are, I can find them if I remember even a fraction of the folder or file name. Old taxes, work forms, Photoshop projects, comics I treasured five years ago, you name it. If I want it, I can bring it to the surface with a few keywords.
For example, Nintendo recently sent a cease and desist letter to the Internet Archives to pull its massive archive of old Nintendo Power issues. Naturally, as a lifelong hobbyist archivist, that made me say, “Didn’t I save Nintendo Power scans somewhere?” and indeed, I did. He might have forgotten where they were, but not Everything.
He instantly fed through 3,558,139 files and folders on my computer and attached drives to find exactly what I wanted when I wanted it.
Now you may not have 3.5 million files. And you may not have random old files from a decade ago that you want to find. But even for last month’s files, it’s an incredible time saver. If you can remember anything about the file—part of the name, the file extension, the root directory it might be buried deep in—you can unearth it with a few keystrokes.
Even on my laptops, where the files are definitely not stacked ten terabytes deep like they are on my main computers, I still install Everything immediately. I just can’t live without that instant file search, and I certainly don’t want to be stuck waiting for Windows search to scan files at the rate of one folder per minute.
In fact, after writing this true love letter to the app, I’m going to make a donation to the project, and I hope you’ll download the app and maybe give them a few bucks too.
And hey, if you’re undecided… it’s freeware. Download it. Try it. Feel the incredible thrill of searching, well, Allon your computer instantly.