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Windows Desktop Search for Enterprise
  1. Introduction
  2. Client Setup
  3. Administrative Setup
  4. Links


As presented at the .NET User Group Frank Arrigo from Microsoft says:

"I attended a Sydney .NET User Group meeting late last year, in which Adam Cogan was presenting in his usual flamboyant style. He was going through his hints and tips section, and started talking about Enterprise Search. I pointed out that Windows Desktop Search can be enabled for the Enterprise. Adam hadn't spotted this bit of news."

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Often you will want to quickly find a file on your computer or local network.  On the web, with the advances in search engines this seems so easy. New enterprise search tools are now making this same feat possible for your desktop. If a client calls me, I can instantly search for their name and find all our correspondence. Even if I last emailed or wrote to them 6 months ago, I now can resume the discussion as if it were yesterday. The two most popular enterprise search tools are Google's and Microsoft's.

We ended up choosing Microsoft's Windows Desktop Search and SharePoint combination. We did consider Google Enterprise Search Tool,  however it requires purchase of the Google Search Appliance for integrating enterprise search results. The Google appliance costs around $US 10,000. Since most of our customers have already invested in SharePoint, Windows Desktop Search is heaps cheaper.

Windows Desktop Search for Enterprise is a unified solution for seamlessly searching both your local emails and files, as well your entire enterprise network. You will need to do two things:


Client Setup

The Client Setup is used by end users, and involves them installing a copy of Windows Desktop Search on their computer. This installation has three components:

  1. Windows Desktop Search for Enterprise. This allows you to search all the files and emails on your computer, as well as network shares.
  2. MSN Enterprise Search Toolbar. The tool bar adds desktop search integration into Outlook.  (My opinion is these first two components should be combined into one)
  3. Connect to your SharePoint Portal for true Enterprise Search functionality integrated into Windows Desktop Search.
    Network Administrators, please follow the Administrative Setup section
    For users, this is installed for you automatically through the power of Group Policy in Active Directory!

Setup Instructions:

  1. Uninstall all previous versions of Windows Desktop Search, MSN Toolbar and NineMSN Search Toolbar.

  2. Close Microsoft Outlook.

  3. Download and install Windows Desktop Search for Enterprise:

    Afterwards install the MSN Search Toolbar for Enterprise:

    When you first start using the software, desktop search will open several web pages to advertise additional add-ins you can install. You can safely close these pages.

    Note: If you see the message that the MSN toolbar/deskbar could not be loaded into your taskbar.

    Go to the Deskbar page in Windows Desktop Search Options and click the Show Deskbar button. More information on finding Windows Desktop Search Options is provided below.


  4. Modify your indexing options from the default (which only index your emails and documents) to include your whole computer.
    To do this:

    Right click the Windows Desktop Search icon in your system tray, and select 'Desktop Search Options'.

    Figure: Open the Desktop Search Options form

    Go to the 'Indexing Options' section. Make sure to un-tick Index new items while on battery power.
    Choose Custom folders and email Locations. Click the Browse button:

    Figure: Change 2 of the default indexing options

    You will see a list of options. Make sure indexing your Local Drives is selected:

    Figure: Make sure indexing your Local Drives is selected

    Your setup is now complete!

      Note: Search results will progressively be available as your drives are indexed.  

The End Result:

Administrative Setup

Windows Desktop Search has poor documentation for configuring enterprise wide search. If you're not a network guru, here you go...

The Administrative setup will be completed just the once by your network administrator to automatically configure all client installations of Windows Desktop Search to point to your SharePoint Portal.
You use Active Directory Group Policies to automatically link every user's desktop search to the SharePoint Intranet Search and configure many other aspects of the desktop search tool such setting restrictions on which locations and file types are searched.
Windows Desktop Search comes with a Group Policy file that can easily be imported into the Active Directory MMC snap-in called 'Group Policy Management Console'. Once imported, the policy can be modified to reflect your needs

Setup Instructions

  1. Download the .adm group policy file from the windows enterprise desktop search website
  2. Copy the .adm file to your %Windows%\inf folder on the server used to administer your active directory settings.
  3. Open the Group Policy Management Console. Click Start, click Control Panel, click Administrative Tools, and then click Group Policy Management
    (If you don't have it, get it here: It's Microsoft's new tool for managing group policy)

  4. Figure: Open the Group Policy Management Console


  5. Create a New Group Policy Object
    Create a new Group Policy Object by right clicking in the Group Policy Objects window and selecting new.
    Call the new Group Policy Object Desktop Search.

    Figure: Create a new Group Policy Object called 'Desktop Search'

  6. Using the Group Policy Object Editor
    Now right click your new 'Desktop Search' object and click 'Edit.'

    Figure: Right click a group policy object and click 'Edit' to launch the Group Policy Object Editor

    The Group Policy Object editor opens. The policy settings for Windows Desktop Search can be applied either to users, or computers but not both.
    Chose the user approach so that these custom policies will only be applied to users in the domain. This means your home logon will not be affected.
    Right click the Administrative Templates section under User Configuration and select Add\Remove Templates:

    Figure: Right click Administrative Templates and select Add/Remove Templates

    The Add/Remove Templates window allows you to view all policy files that have been imported.

    Figure: Click 'Add' and select the file 'desktopsearch.adm'

    Click Add and choose the desktopsearch.adm file that you copied into the machines %windows%\inf folder in an earlier step.


  8. Viewing and edit the new Policy Template
    Inside Administrative Templates we can now view and modify settings for Windows Desktop Search:

    Figure: You will notice a new node under Administrative Templates called 'Windows Desktop Search'

    Right click 'Add Primary Intranet Search Location' and select 'Properties' to set your SharePoint Portal location:

    Figure: Launch the properties window for 'Add Primary Intranet Search Location'

    In the properties window, you can specify the alias and start address of your SharePoint Portal. The alias will be used by Windows Desktop Search to display a button to the user.
    The user's search term is passed to SharePoint by filling in the '$w' value where SharePoint usually places the search term in its query string: More details are given under the 'Explain' tab.

    Figure: Enter the web address of your SharePoint Portal and put a $w as the querystring search attribute


  9. Enable and link the new Group Policy Object
    The new GPO just needs to be linked to a domain or other organizational unit inside active directory.
    Right click your domain and click 'Link existing GPO'. Then select the new 'DesktopSearch' GPO from the list.

    Figure: Link the new 'DesktopSearch' GPO to your domain.

    Your new policy is now active, and each user will have their registry settings modified appropriately when they next logon.

The End Result


More information on Enterprise Search tools can be found at:


Tim Kremer
Adam Cogan