Notes on Windows 95 Search

Donald Kenney (
Last Update: Fri Jun 24 15:57:27 2011


Windows 95 has a FIND Files option on the START Menu. In NT this is changed to SEARCH and has gained an animated puppy. Command line devotees may prefer to use dir /S, but FIND/SEARCH has some advantages including not having to dink with wildcards and the ability to scroll results if the list of found files is lengthy. The ability to drag and drop from the results is sometimes useful.

Unlike most other Windows capabilities, FIND is not documented in the Windows Resource Kit nor -- so far as I can determine -- the Microsoft Knowlege Base.

Nonetheless, I was eventually able to determine a few things about how the Windows-9 Find/Search capability works.

Windows 9 Find/Search implementation and invocation

It turns out that FIND is implemented as a DDE call to EXPLORER.EXE function OpenFindFile. It does not seem to be accessible from the EXPLORER command line. Neither can it be invoked via RUNDLL as far as I can see although there may well be some other simple way to invoke it from the command line or in a script that I haven't come across. (Possibly 'RUNDLL SHELL,SHELLEXECUTE ... something or other???'). In any case, it is possible to create a .fnd file that will bring up the FIND menu and to invoke the .fnd file via the command line START command. That is close enough to a command line interactive find for my purposes (See Below).

Common complaints about **FIND**

Common complaints about FIND in Windows 95 include:

How to Search Multiple Drives

One important thing that does not seem to be conveniently documented (at least I've never found it) is the syntax for specifying multiple drives to search. It turns out to be drive1:path1;drive2:path2;... for example C:\;E:\;L:\docs

How to Specify Hard Coded Searches

One way to configure custom defaults for FIND is to set up the desired FIND, then click FILE and SAVE SEARCH. A .fnd file will be created on the desktop(!) that when invoked will repeat the search. The .fnd file can be moved to a less transient location like C:\WINDOWS and invoked via a shortcut or from the command line 'START c:\windows\misc\whatever.fnd'.

Specifying Searches in the Registry

It may also be possible to alter FIND behavior by tinkering with the Registry Key HKLR\directory\shell\find and its subkeys. See for one approach to this.

Copyright 2006-2012 Donald Kenney ( Unless otherwise stated, permission is hereby granted to use any materials on these pages under the Creative Commons License V2.5.

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