by Chris Taylor
Did you ever
wonder why you can find information stored on a web
server anywhere in the world in seconds but you can't
find a specific file or email on your own computer?
I always found that truism to be very frustrating. Yes,
Outlook and Outlook Express the two mail programs
I use have search functions. But they are slow and
limited. It's not easy to find an email from Sam, with
holiday in the subject line and an attachment containing
the words Marshall Islands.
Then throw in files on your local hard disk. Try finding
that document in Adobe Reader format, downloaded last
year from a web site, talking about how to tune your
computer. You're sure it contained the words registry and
Ethernet. Or was it a PowerPoint presentation file? Or
was it network rather than Ethernet?
There are ways to find those elusive needles in
haystacks, but sometimes they are so hard or time
consuming that you may just decide the information was
not really all that important after all.
What if you had a program that maintained an up-to-date
index of all your files, all your emails (including the
contents of file attachments), your address book
contacts, and more? Have I grabbed your interest? I found
this in a program called X1 Search from X1 Technologies.
By default, X1 indexes the file name, size, date and time
stamp, and location for all files on all local hard
drives. Also by default, it will index full content for
21 common file types such as dbf, doc, htm, html, pdf,
ppt, rtf, txt, wpd, xls, and will even sniff out files in
most archive formats such as zip and lzh. However, you
are not limited to those file types. File viewing
technology from Stellent (makers of Quick View Plus) is
embedded in X1. This means that not only can X1 display
just about every file for you, but with a little
tweaking, you can have it index the text found in any of
over 255 file types.
X1 provides considerable control over what gets indexed.
You can open a tree view of folders on your drives and
choose: ignore the folder; index file names and sizes;
index file names, sizes, and full contents for specified
file extensions; or index everything regardless of file
extension. You can also add network locations, either as
mapped drive letters or UNC specifications.
On my computer, a total of 259,358 files have been
indexed for filename, size, date/time stamp, and path. Of
those, 33,315 have been indexed for content, which is
currently using the default set of 21 file extensions.
Email and newsgroups
I use Outlook 2003 when accessing my work email and
Outlook Express for my OPCUG POP3 account. X1 handles
both of these mailers as well as Eudora and Netscape
Mail. I have a lot of email. In addition to emails, X1
has indexed the full contents of the newsgroups on PUB II
the conference areas on PUB II are also published
as newsgroups as well as some newsgroups I follow
at Microsoft. As I write this, X1 tells me I have a total
of 58,492 emails/newsgroup postings indexed. The numbers
would be a bit higher, but I excluded some folders and
newsgroups I never need to search.
In addition to the emails themselves, I have 5,912 file
attachments in emails that have also been indexed.
All my email contacts have been indexed, including the
many thousands of entries in the Global Address List on
the Exchange Servers at work.
Currently in development, X1 can also index other Outlook
content: Calendar, Notes, Tasks, and Journal. I have not
run into any problems, but theses indexes are currently
unsupported. Ask me if you need instructions on enabling
Raison d'Ítre - searching
Searching in X1 is limited to a single index at a time;
email, attachments, files, contacts, calendar, notes,
tasks, or journal.
You can enter a general search term and all meta-data as
well as full content will be searched. For example, a
search in the files index for zip might find a file
called readme.zip, all files in a directory called
c:\downloads\zip files and a Word document that contains
the words zippity do dah.
Additionally, X1 provides field searches for each of the
indexes. This helps to narrow searches. For example, you
could search for files with song in the filename, down in
the pathname, and zip anywhere. You can sort the results
of any search by any field name by simply clicking on the
field header. You can also re-arrange the fields by
dragging and dropping field headers. Available fields
vary according to the index. For example, when using the
email index, some of the fields are from, to, subject,
date/time, email client, and folder name.
Phrase searching, proximity searching, exact word match,
and Boolean operators are all available to help expand or
As you enter search terms, the list of items matching
your search appears in the left pane. Clicking on any
item will display its contents in the viewer pane on the
right. Given the excellent file viewers built into X1,
the content will normally appear very similar to how it
would appear in its native application.
If you want
to do more than just look at the items found, right
clicking the item in the file list will display a pop-up
menu listing common actions. For files, there are options
such as Open (which acts the same as double-clicking on a
file in Windows Explorer), Print, Delete, Locate on Disk
(which opens Windows Explorer with the file selected),
and Send by Email. For email, options include Open, View
Folder, Reply, Reply to All, Forward, Move to Folder,
Mark as Read, Print, Open Attachments and Delete. The
other indexes include relevant action options.
If you have complex searches that you repeat frequently,
they can be saved and made available from a pick list for
X1 is fast! As quickly as you can type in search terms,
X1 is narrowing the list of items matching your search.
Search terms are highlighted in the list and viewer
panes. If you enter multiple search terms, X1 chooses a
different colour to highlight each search term.
I worried about the performance hit X1 might take on my
computer. I was very pleasantly surprised. The first full
indexing took less than 2 hours. I have X1 set to update
the indexes for files every 10 minutes, email every 20
minutes, contacts once a day, and calendar, notes, and
tasks every 2 hours. Updating each index generally takes
less than half a minute. X1 will yield CPU cycles to
other applications if needed, so X1 should rarely cause a
Of course, any index takes up disk space. But X1 seems
pretty good in this regard. My Exchange Server mailbox at
work is about 280MB. My local files for Outlook Express
total about 300MB. My local disks have about a quarter
million files taking up 60GB of space, although how much
space is being used by the 33,315 files that have full
content indexed is anyone's guess. The end result is that
the indexes for X1 are taking just under 900MB. Not too
What doesn't work
While I am impressed with X1 overall, there are a few
things I found annoying.
X1 has a very nifty auto-hide feature. If this is
enabled, you just have to move the mouse pointer to the
top of the screen and a header bar appears with the index
category tabs and the main search box. Click anywhere in
this header and the entire X1 interface appears. But if
you have a multiple-monitor configuration, you can end up
with weird effects such as part of the header appearing
on one monitor and the rest on another.
The size field is only moderately useful. You can sort on
that field and you can look for precise matches, but you
cannot search for things like files greater than 1MB or
files between 100K and 500K.
There is a toolbar at the top of the viewer pane, but the
colours chosen do not make it easy to distinguish between
active and inactive icons.
If you tell X1 to delete a file within a zip file, the
file disappears from the file list in X1, but the file is
not actually deleted from within the ZIP file. There is
no error message indicating the file wasn't deleted. In a
previous build of X1, the file would not be deleted, but
you received a somewhat confusing error message
indicating the file could not be deleted. I reported it
as a bug, saying I thought the error message could be
clearer. It is strange that the folks at X1 decided to
"fix" the problem by simply removing the
confusing error message rather than fix the real problem.
If you include Outlook Express newsgroups in your index,
any attachments to news postings will not be indexed. And
newsgroups were the one area I ran into a serious bug.
When X1 tries to index the newsgroup with OPCUG
newsletters in Acrobat Reader format which is only
a 45MB file with 30 postings it bogs completely
down and never stops trying to index the postings. Given
that X1 does not actually index the attachments for
Outlook Express newsgroup postings, it did not make sense
to index this group anyway, so I simply excluded the
newsgroup and X1 returned to its normal performance.
I have come to depend quite heavily on X1. It has turned
searching for items into a simple, quick task instead of
something I dread having to do. If you spend inordinate
amounts of time searching for things, or give up because
it is simply too hard to do, take a look at X1 Search.
You can download a 15-day, fully functional trial version
from the X1 web site.
Windows 98SE/ME/2K/XP, 128MB RAM (256MB recommended),
disk space depends on content being indexed. Mail clients
supported: Outlook, Outlook Express, Netscape Mail, and
X1 Search is available from the web at www.x1.com for US$99.00. Members of the
OPCUG can get a 20% discount until the end of 2004.
Contact me (email@example.com)
for instructions on how you can
obtain the discount. The X1 license allows the product to
be used on 2 computers.
US $99.00 for use on 2 computers
Originally published: October, 2004
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The opinions expressed in these reviews
do not necessarily represent the views of the
Ottawa PC Users' Group or its members.