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Optimize searching for files in Windows 10 and Windows 11 using Indexing Options

Are you having problems finding files in Windows 10 or Windows 11? Are your searches not finding the data you are looking for? If so, you may want to look at the Indexing Options inside Windows 10 and Windows 11.

Optimize searching for files in Windows 10 and Windows 11 using Indexing Options

Have you ever typed in a query in the search box in Windows 10 or Windows 11 and not found the file or folder you were looking for? You know it is on your computer somewhere, but Windows just does not seem to find it.

Windows 10 and Windows 11 have a built-in index that contains the properties of specific files and folders. The special folders (Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, and Videos) are mainly indexed by default, but you can modify where and what Windows indexes.

And some files can have their contents indexed too. For example, if you have Microsoft Office installed, you can have the contents of Word documents, OneNote notebooks, and Outlook data included in the index.

In fact, many of the apps built into Windows use the index in one way or another. File Explorer, Microsoft Edge, and Cortana, to name a few. And the cool thing is it all just runs smoothly in the background, most of the time.

But there may be a time when you just do not feel you are finding all of your files or, in the case of Outlook, your e-mails. One of the most common issues I deal with as a computer technician is when users search inside Outlook for an item and the index does not find any matches. Yes, Outlook, by default, uses the index when searching for items inside of Outlook.

So let's look at the indexing options in Windows 10 and Windows 11. There is no difference between the indexing options in either Windows 10 or Windows 11, just the way you get to it.

How to get to the indexing options in Windows 10

  1. Bring up a Search Dialog box by either:
    • Left-clicking in the Type here to search box on the right-hand side of the Start button Windows logo
    • Press the Windows Logo key Windows logo + S at the same time.
  2. In the Search Dialog box, type Indexing Options.
  3. In the search results, left-click on Indexing Options.

or

  1. Left-click on the Start button Windows logo to bring up the Start menu.
  2. Scroll down the list of apps and left-click on Windows System to expand the folder.
  3. Left-click on Control Panel.
  4. On the upper right-hand side of the Control Panel, change View by: from Category to Large Icons.
  5. Double left-click on Indexing Options.

How to get to the indexing options in Windows 11

  1. Left-click on the Start button Windows logo to bring up the Start menu.
  2. On the top of the Start menu there is a search field. Type Indexing Options.
  3. In the search results, left-click on Indexing Options - Control Panel.

or

  1. Left-click on the Start Windows logo key button to bring up the Start menu.
  2. In the upper right-hand corner of the Start menu, left-click on All apps.
  3. Scroll down the list of programs and left-click on Windows Tools.
  4. Double left-click on Control Panel.
  5. On the upper right-hand side of the Control Panel, change View by: from Category to Large Icons.
  6. Double left-click on Indexing Options.

Configuring Indexing Options inside of Windows 10 and Windows 11

The Indexing Options main window in Windows 10 and Windows 11

Note: Changing the properties of certain features inside of Indexing Options will cause an immediate rebuild of the index. Rebuilding the index can take several hours to even days; it depends on how much data the indexing service has to process. Any searches performed while the index is rebuilding may be incomplete.

The Indexing Options main window displays the locations that are currently indexed. At the bottom, there are three (3) buttons: Modify, Advanced, and Pause. Clicking on the Modify button will bring up the Indexed Locations window.

The Indexed Locations windows inside of Indexing Options in Windows 10 and Windows 11

Here you can add or remove locations on your computer you want the indexing service to monitor. Tip: If you click on a location in the Summary of selected locations in the lower half of the window, it will open that location in the Change selected locations in the upper half of the window.

Clicking on the Advanced button on the Indexing Options main window brings up the Advanced Options windows. It has two (2) tabs: Index Settings and Files Types.

The Index Settings tab inside of the Advanced Options for Indexing Options in Windows 10 and Windows 11

File Settings

  • Index encrypted files - This option is only available if you use disk encryption, like Bitlocker.
  • Treat similar words with diacritics as different words - by default Windows recognizes diacritics according to the language version you are using. If you change this setting, all diacritics will be recognized.

Troubleshooting

  • Delete and rebuild index - There will be times when rebuilding the index is required. As noted before, if you decide to rebuild the index, please allow plenty of time for your computer to complete the task.

Index location

  • Displays the current location of the index. You can change where the index is stored by clicking on the Select new button.

The File Types tab inside of the Advanced Options for Indexing Options in Windows 10 and Windows 11

The File Types tab lists all of the file extensions currently registered in the index. You can add or remove a file extension or modify the properties of an existing extension.

Increase the performance of your Windows 11 computer with ReadyBoost

Is the performance of your Windows 11 computer not up to par? Do you have a spare CF card, SD card, or USB flash drive? If so, then you may want to try to increase performance using ReadyBoost in Windows 11.

Increase the performance of your Windows 11 computer with ReadyBoost

ReadyBoost is a disk caching component of Windows that works as a cache between your system drive and the Random Access Memory (RAM). ReadyBoost increases the system's read time from the hard drive and improves your computer's performance.

Now ReadyBoost is meant to work with computers where the primary system drive is a Hard Disk Drive (HDD) and is disabled on computers with a Solid State Drive (SSD) as a primary drive. So if your computer boots to an SSD, you will not be able to use ReadyBoost.

Typically, you want to dedicate whatever drive you decide to use to ReadyBoost; that way, you can set it up and let it go. SD cards work better for laptops as they usually do not extend out of the card slot as much as a USB drive.

Here are the requirements for ReadyBoost in Windows 11

  • Minimum free space per CF card / SD card / USB drive: 1 GB
  • Maximum free spade per CF card / SD card / USB drive: 32 GB
  • The maximum amount of ReadyBoost devices: 8
  • The maximum amount of ReadyBoost storage: 256 GB
  • Minimum transfer rate: 3.5 Mbit/s.
  • The flash drive/memory card format: NTFS
  • The recommended ratio between ReadyBoost and system memory is 1:1 to 2.5:1

How to set up ReadyBoost in Windows 11

To set up a device for use with ReadyBoost, you will need to access File Explorer.

  1. Open File Explorer using one of the following:
    • Left-click on the File Explorer icon (manilla folder) on the Taskbar.
    • Press the Windows logo key Windows logo + E at the same time.
    • Use the Power User menu by right-clicking on the Start Windows logo button and selecting File Explorer.
  2. In the left-side column, left-click on This PC.
  3. In the right-side column, right-click on the drive you want to use with ReadyBoost and select Properties.
  4. Left-click on the ReadyBoost tab.

At this point, File Explorer will test the device for compatibility.
ReadyBoost device check inside of Windows 11
If the device passes the test, you will be presented with the ReadyBoost options.
ReadyBoost device options inside of Windows 11
Here, you can choose between Do not use this device, Dedicate this device to ReadyBoost (recommended), or Use this device. Select the desired setting and left-click on Apply.
ReadyBoost configuring the cache inside of Windows 11
ReadyBoost will now configure your cache.

If you decide that ReadyBoost is not working for you, you can turn it off by going back into File Explorer and changing the device's ReadyBoost settings to Do not use.

How to create a recovery drive in Windows 10 and Windows 11

Computer problems happen when you least expect them. But having the software to repair your computer is essential. So here is how to create a recovery drive in Windows 10 and Windows 11.

How to create a recovery drive in Windows 10 and Windows 11

So what is a recovery drive? It is a bootable USB drive with all the system tools that normally appear in the advanced options menu. This is the menu that appears when your computer fails to boot correctly.

If you have not heard of a recovery drive, you are not alone. A good majority of Windows users do not know about this great device. Sadly, most learn about having a recovery drive only after their system has experienced a problem.

Now it is easy to confuse a recovery drive with a system repair disk, as they perform the same functions. But with a recovery drive, you can also reinstall Windows if you need to.
The recover from a drive option in the recovery drive boot menu
System repair disks have been around for decades, but recovery disks first appeared in Windows 8.

What is the difference between a recovery drive and a system repair disk? Essentially they are the same; the only difference is the media you use to create them. A recovery drive uses a USB drive, and a system repair disk uses, as the name implies, a CD / DVD. And with more computers coming without optical (CD/DVD/BD) drives, most people can only use a recovery drive.

The list of options is the same as if your computer did not boot correctly and you got the advanced options screen. Startup Repair, Command Prompt, Uninstall Updates, UEFI Firmware Settings, System Restore, and System Image Recovery.

How to open Recovery Drive inside of Windows 10

  1. Left-click on the Start button Windows logo to bring up the Start menu.
  2. Scroll down the list of programs and left-click on Windows Accessories.
  3. Double left-click on Recovery Drive.

or

  1. Using the search box on the right side of the Start Windows logo button, type in Recovery Drive,
  2. Left-click on it in the search results.

How to open Recovery Drive inside of Windows 11

  1. Left-click on the Start button Windows logo to bring up the Start menu.
  2. In the upper right-hand corner of the Start menu, left-click on All apps.
  3. Scroll down the list of programs and left-click on Windows Tools.
  4. Double left-click on Recovery Drive.

or

  1. Left-click on the magnifying glass to the right of the Start button Windows logo to bring up the Search dialog box.
  2. In the Search dialog box, type Recovery Drive.
  3. In the list of results, Recovery Drive should be highlighted.
  4. Left-click on Recovery Drive.

How to create a recovery drive

The requirements for creating a recovery disk are pretty simple, a USB drive that is 16GB or larger. I would recommend 32GB just to be on the safe side. Note: The USB drive you use for the recovery drive will be erased and reformatted when you create it. Please copy or move anything on the drive you want to keep before creating the recovery drive.

I would also like to mention that the time it takes to create a recovery drive that includes system files can be long. It may take a few hours, so be prepared to allow your computer the time it needs to complete the creation of the recovery drive.

The first screen that appears when you open the Recovery Drive app is where you decide whether or not to include a backup copy of Windows.
Create a recovery drive screen in the Recovery Drive program
Since you would likely only be using this drive if your computer will not function properly, I recommend including the systems files in the recovery drive.

If you decide to include the system files, you will need to update the recovery drive periodically. I would update every six to twelve months; that way, if you do need to reinstall Windows from the recovery drive, it will be as current as the last time you updated the recovery drive.

The next screen asks you what drive you want to use for the recovery drive.
Select the USB drive screen in the Recovery Drive program
Select the drive and click on Next. One final warning screen appears.
Create a recovery drive warning screen in the Recovery Drive program
Just click on Create. Now just read some email or social posts because this will take some time. Once the recovery drive has been created, remove it and put it in a safe place.

How to fix no sound in Windows 10 and Windows 11

Did you just notice that you do not have any sound in Windows 10 or Windows 11? Not getting any audible notices when you receive a new email or delete a file? Here are 4 things you can do to fix no sound in Windows 10 or Windows 11.

How to fix no sound in Windows 10 and Windows 11

Losing the audio from your Windows-based computer can be really frustrating. One minute you hear a video playing in your browser, and the next minute you hear nothing. This problem is more common than you think. So here are 4 things you do to restore the sound in Windows 10 and Windows 11.

Check to see if the default audio device has been muted

The most common problem I have seen is the default audio device gets accidentally muted. I have gone on several service calls for no audio, only to find the volume has been muted. A quick check can save you time and money.

How to check if the default audio device has been muted in Windows 10 and Windows 11

  1. Left-click on the speaker icon on the right-hand side of the Taskbar.
    Umute the audio device in Windows
  2. In the popup that appears, look at the speaker icon on the left side of the volume slider.
  3. If there is an X to the right of the speaker icon, left-click on the speaker icon to unmute the device.

Check the default audio device

This is the most common issue regarding the loss of sound in Windows. With more computers coming with a built-in sound card and graphic cards with HDMI and Display Port (DP) connections, you have to make sure you are using the correct device for audio.

If you connect your monitor to your computer using an HDMI or DP connection, you must ensure your monitor has speakers to playback audio. If your monitor does not have speakers built-in, you need speakers or headphones to hear the audio.

How to check the default audio device in Windows 10 in Windows 11

  1. Left-click on the speaker icon on the right-hand side of the Taskbar.
    Select the default audio device in Windows
  2. Left-click on the audio device you want to use for sound.
  3. Move the volume slider left and right to hear a sample tone. If you do not hear the sample tone, select a different device and try moving the volume slider again. You have found the correct audio device when you hear the sample tone.

Run the audio troubleshooter

The Playing Audio troubleshooter is simple to use and can be extremely helpful when you are in a hurry. Once you select the device to test, the troubleshooter scans for any issues and offers recommendations on what you might try to restore your computer's audio.

How to run the audio troubleshooter in Windows 10 and Windows 11

  1. Right-click on the speaker icon on the right-hand side of the Taskbar.
    Playing audio troubleshooter
  2. Left-click on Troubleshoot sound problems.

Remove and reinstall the driver for your audio device

If you have tried all of the previous solutions, this will usually fix 99% of the problems with your computer's audio issues. There are two (2) different ways to remove and reinstall the drivers for your audio device.

The first way is to use the existing driver already installed in the Windows driver catalog. Often, the audio device configuration gets corrupted, and simply removing and reinstalling the driver with the device defaults will work to resolve sound problems.

The second way is to download a new driver package from the manufacturer's website. Most computers nowadays have sound cards built into the motherboard, but there are times when the user needs a more advanced sound card. That is when you find a separate sound card may have been installed.

Either way, you will need to find the make and model of your motherboard or sound card and go over to their website, and download the latest driver package. Here is how to remove and reinstall the drivers for your audio device.

How to remove and reinstall the driver for your audio device in Windows 10 and Windows 11

To remove the existing driver for any device inside Windows, you need to get to Device Manager. There are a couple of different ways to get to Device Manager, the first way is through the Start Menu, and the second way is using the Power User menu.

How to bring up the Device Manager in Windows 10

  1. Left-click on the Start button Windows logo to bring up the Start menu.
  2. Scroll down the list of apps and left-click on Windows Administrative Tools to expand the folder.
  3. Left-click on Computer Management.
  4. Under Computer Management (Local), left-click on Device Manager.

or

  1. Right-click on the Start button on bring up the Power User menu.
  2. From the context menu that appears, left-click on Device Manager.

How to bring up the Device Manager in Windows 11

  1. Left-click on the Start button Windows logo to bring up the Start menu.
  2. In the upper right-hand corner of the Start menu, left-click on All apps.
  3. Scroll down the list of programs and left-click on Windows Tools.
  4. Left-click on Computer Management.
  5. Under Commuter Management (Local), left-click on Device Manager.

or

  1. Right-click on the Start button Windows logo on bring up the Power User menu.
  2. From the context menu that appears, left-click on Device Manager.

Once you have Device Manager open, scroll down the list of devices until you get to Sound, video and game controllers. Double left-click on the Sound, video, and game controllers category to expand it.

Device manager open to sound devices

Find the audio device in the list that appears that you want to remove and reinstall. Right-click on that device and select Uninstall device from the context menu that appears. A dialog box will appear, warning you about uninstalling the device.

Make sure you check the box next to Delete the driver software for this device and then left-click Uninstall.
Uninstall sound device in Device Manager
Then restart your computer. Once your computer restarts, Windows will automatically reinstall the driver with the factory defaults. You should now have audio.

If you still do not have any sound, install the latest software package from the manufacturer's website. Once done, restart your computer for the changes to take effect.

How to change the location of personal folders in Windows 11

With more and more computers coming with two (2) drives, managing the free space can be daunting. And the biggest space hog on your computer is your personal folders. So here is how to change the default location of your personal folders in Windows 11.

How to change the location of personal folders in Windows 11

Most computers that have two (2) drives will have one Solid State Drive (SSD) for the operating system and program files and one Hard Disk Drive (HDD) for data. And by default, Windows 11 saves everything to the same drive as the operating system.

But after a while, your personal folders can get quite large, with all of the music, pictures, and videos you save to your computer. And with Windows 11 saving all of these files on the same drive as the OS and program files, the possibility of running out of free space is quite real.

And if that drive is an SSD, your personal folders are taking up valuable real estate that could be used for other uses, like more programs. So why not move your personal folders to another drive?

Now relocating your personal folders is relatively easy, but there are a few guidelines you want to be aware of. When it comes down to it, the location of your personal folders is set inside of the registry. I include the instructions on restoring the locations of your personal folders via the registry later in this article.

Note: You can remap your personal folders to any drive or folder that has a drive letter assigned to it in File Explorer. It is recommended only to use drives that are built into your computer, not external and network drives. Remember that if you lose connection with an external or network drive, you will also lose connection to your personal folders.

How to change the personal folder location in Windows 11

  1. Open File Explorer using one of the following:
    • Left-click on the File Explorer icon (manilla folder) on the Taskbar.
    • Press the Windows logo key Windows logo + E at the same time.
    • Use the Power User menu by right-clicking on the Start Windows logo button and selecting File Explorer.
  2. In the left-side column, left-click on This PC.
  3. In the right-side column, double left-click on the drive you want to use for your personal folders. The contents of that drive will appear in the right-hand column.
  4. Right-click on any blank space in the right-hand column, and a context menu will appear..
  5. From that context menu, select New > Folder. Give the new folder a unique name, like User files. If there are multiple users on this computer, you will want to create sub-folders for each user.
  6. Double left-click on the new user folder you just created. You now need to make six (6) sub-folders inside this folder. Named them: Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, and Videos.
  7. Now navigate to C:\Users\your user name. There you will find all of your personal folders.
  8. Right-click on the Desktop folder and select Properties from the context menu that appears.
  9. Left-click on the Location tab and left-click on the Move... button.
  10. From the Select a Destination dialog box that appears, navigate to the new location for the Desktop folder you just created in Step 6. Once selected, left-click on Select Folder.
  11. On the Desktop Properties dialog box, left-click on Apply. You will be prompted to move the contents of this folder from the old location to the new one. Left-click on Yes and let Windows proceed to move this folder.
  12. Repeat steps 7- 10 for the remaining personal folders (Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, and Videos).

To restore the default location of your personal folders, just navigate to the personal folder you want to restore and right-click on it. From the context menu that appears, select Properties and then Location. Left-click on the Restore Default button and follow the prompts. If you receive an error when trying to restore the default location of any personal folder, you can manually change the location by editing the registry.

Note: Editing the registry incorrectly can render your computer unusable! If you do not feel comfortable editing your computer's registry, please contact a local computer repair technician for assistance.

How to open the Registry Editor in Windows 11

  1. Left-click on the Start button Windows logo to bring up the Start menu.
  2. In the upper right-hand corner of the Start menu, left-click on All apps.
  3. Scroll down the list of programs and left-click on Windows Tools.
  4. Double left-click on Registry Editor. If prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

or

  1. Left-click on the magnifying glass to the right of the Start button to bring up the Search dialog box.
  2. Type Registry Editor into the Search box and left-click on the app Registry Editor. If prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

or

  1. Press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + R to bring up a Run dialog box.
  2. In the Open field, type regedit and left-click on OK. If prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

When you have the Registry Editor open, navigate to the following key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders

Here is a list of the six (6) personal folders, the registry key, and the default value. Change only the keys for the folders you are having problems with. Once you are done editing the registry, log out or restart your computer for the changes to take effect. For a complete list of user folder keys, check out how to manually change the user files location in the registry.

Folder Registry key Default value
Desktop Desktop %USERPROFILE%\Desktop
Documents Personal %USERPROFILE%\Documents
Downloads {374DE290-123F-4565-9164-39C4925E467B} %USERPROFILE%\Downloads
Music My Music %USERPROFILE%\Music
Pictures My Pictures %USERPROFILE%\Pictures
Videos My Video %USERPROFILE%\Videos

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