Agent Ransack allows for creating customized searches that go
well beyond basic Windows searches. Its most powerful features are
aimed at programmers and other techies.
Basic searches are relatively easy. You choose all or part of a
file name to search for, optional text within a file, and the drive
or directory to search. Agent Ransack can dig into binary files,
including .exe files, to pull out matching text, but can’t search
within .zip files or other archives (for that you’ll need the paid
version of the software, FileLocator Pro). Matching file names
display on the lower left, and clicking a listed file displays any
matching content on the lower right without having to open the
file, a nice plus. Double-clicking a filename opens the file as per
Search savants can go a great deal further with some of Agent
Ransack’s more expert features, including an option to use
Perl-style regular expressions instead of simple DOS expressions.
You’re likely familiar with DOS expressions, which use ‘*’ as a
wildcard, for example. On the other hand, regular expressions allow
for creating much more extensive and precise searches, but they’re
about as intuitive as the U.S. tax code.
For example, the regular expression
find a file that begins with ‘July’ or ‘August’ followed at some
point by ‘Document’ or ‘Documents’ followed at some point by a
number and has a ‘.doc’ extension (per the program’s help).
Agent Ransack does include some nice ease-of-use features,
including a wizard that can be a big help constructing regular
expressions. Its well-written help file does a good job at
explaining the program’s features, and the app can save your
carefully prepared search criteria or export its results. Techies
who are already proficient with regular expressions may find it
especially useful, but novice users conducting basic searches will
also benefit from being able to quickly sift through matching
content without having to open files.
The free Agent Ransack is a slimmed-down version of the $40 FileLocator
Pro, which can search in archives and Outlook .pst files and
perform even more customized searches. Programmers and others who
need to find one specific bit of text among a huge slew of archive
and other files may need FileLocator Pro’s extra features, but
average Joes will probably be content with Agent Ransack.
Note: This software comes in 32-bit and 64-bit versions.
This is the 64-bit version, which is for 64-bit PCs running a
64-bit OS. If your PC is running a different supported OS, please
32-bit version instead.