Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Windows Search 4: Cannot select drive or folders (grayed out)

I recently reinstalled Windows Search on a freshly imaged corporate XP laptop.

I was dismayed to discover that the only thing showing in my “Indexing Options” / “Included Locations” list was an unused Outlook Express account. When I clicked ‘Modify’ to get to “indexed Locations” and “Change selected locations” (notice some labeling inconsistencies here?) Outlook didn’t show at all and all but one uninteresting folder on my C drive were mysteriously grayed (greyed) out.

The Outlook problem went away with a restart and a review with Outlook running. I’m having complex and intractable issues with Outlook/Exchange authentication, so I can’t make too much of this one.

The mysteriously unselectable grayed out C drive folders persisted however, and the Windows Search 4.0 Troubleshooting Guide was of no use. My clue came when I clicked down into the tree display. Turns out the UI is misleading; even when a folder is gray it may contain searchable subfolders.

Once I saw that, luck played a role. By chance my mouse rested on folder, and a yellow contextual popup appeared. The message told me the folder was not marked for indexing.

Aha! The original disk image was flawed. Somehow the default “allow indexing service to index this disk” had been altered. I opened the context menu for the C drive and checked the appropriate box.

Windows Search 4 now worked.

Update: Incidentally, the machine transition revealed that I'm utterly dependent on Windows Search. I can no longer work without robust full text search and a powerful collection of search operators. A new dependency ....

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