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Searching, part III: Do you know what a SearchMelt is?

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Old 05-14-2007
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Searching, part III: Do you know what a SearchMelt is?
Last week we showed you how to make some interesting Search Folders on Windows Vista. If you're like me, you probably can't get enough of them. Today, I want to introduce you to new feature that's a little geeky, but very useful for anyone that has to do a lot of team-based work.
The thing about Search Folders is that while they're pretty handy for an individual, they're not readily shareable. If you actually open a Search Folder in notepad and look at the XML innards, you'll see that Windows Vista automatically scopes the Search Folder to the user profile on the local PC. This prevents me from, say, creating one and sending it to my team.
Introducing Windows Vista SearchMelts
A SearchMelt is a Windows Vista Search Folder that has been changed slightly to be generic and able to be shared. It's like Search + XML + Sharing -- it's a whole bunch of melty goodness!
SearchMelts are easy to share because they are so small, usually on the order of a couple of kilobytes, but they are super-useful to people like me, and to people who need to collaborate on common documents on an on-going basis.
Follow the easy instructions below to create your own SearchMelts, and feel free to share your creations with co-workers or customers.
Creating a Windows Vista Search Folder
  1. Go to the Search Explorer in Windows Vista. TIP: To make this easier to access, if it isn't showing on your Start Menu, you can add Search by right-clicking the Start Orb / Properties / Tick the Start Menu radio button / Customize. On the Customize Start Menu page, scroll down to Search and click the check box to enable it. Click OK to back out. Search will now appear as a menu item on the right side of your Start Menu.
  2. Design a search
    • Ex.: All PowerPoint documents:
      1. i. * = wildcard
      2. ii. Document = only documents
      3. iii. Filter control = All Office 2007, Office 97-2003 PowerPoints
  3. Save as Search Folder
Turning Your Search Folder into a SearchMelt
Windows Vista does not save Search Folders in a way that is instantly shareable. Normally, when you create a Search Folder, that search is "hard-coded," or scoped, to your PC. So, you need to take an additional step to make them generic so they can be shared with friends, family, customers, anyone.
  1. Copy the SearchMelt Creator to your Saved Searches folder. Your Saved Searches folder can be found in the following way:
    • Open the Start Menu
    • Choose the user name, which is the right-hand, top-most entry. This will open the user profile
  2. Find and open the Searches folder. To turn a Search Folder into a SearchMelt, just pick a Search Folder and drag and drop it on top of the SearchMelt Creator.
    • The SearchMelt Creator is an .exe that will automatically change the scope from your PC to a generic set-up.
That's it!
Note: not every SearchMelt will "just work." If you have a search looking at specific places like an external hard drive on your PC or a private share, even the SearchMelt Creator won’t be able to fix those for you. The best kind of SearchMelt is one that is made from a Search Folder that points to one PC, or to a networked PC or network share to which everyone has access. The SearchMelt creator will only remove user-specific information contained in a Search Folder.

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