Extending Windows Desktop Search

Applies To: Windows Server 2008

You can extend Windows Desktop Search with add-ins. Protocol handlers, property handlers, and filters enable indexing additional data stores and file types. Toolbars provide easy access to searches. Extending WDS in these ways enables you to perform the following tasks:

  • Search additional file types, such as Adobe PDF files or IBM Lotus Notes files.

  • Search additional data repositories from third-party applications, such as your customer relationship management (CRM) database.

  • Integrate search results into your third-party applications, such as importing new Outlook contacts into your CRM system.

This section contains the following topics:

  • Finding WDS Add-Ins

  • Adding Functionality with Toolbars

  • File Types Indexed by Default

  • File Systems and Removable Media Support

Finding WDS Add-Ins

For a list of supported add-ins and third-party filters and protocol handlers that can be integrated with WDS, visit the Windows Desktop Search Add-Ins Web page. After you install an add-in and the computer is idle, WDS indexes the new file types.

Alternatively, you can create your own add-ins. For more information about how to extend WDS by creating your own protocol handlers, property handlers or filters, visit the Windows Search Developer Guide on MSDN.

Adding Functionality with Toolbars

If you are interested in providing desktop search entry points in Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 or Microsoft Internet Explorer, you can deploy Windows Live Toolbar or its predecessor, MSN Search Toolbar. These toolbars provides Windows XP users with the ability to initiate searches and find specific e-mail messages from within Outlook.

Additionally, Windows Live Toolbar offers protection from online ID theft scams, pop-ups, and viruses. With the Windows Live Toolbar you also gain a rich set of features for organizing your content, including smart search tools, and personalization options. For more information, visit the Windows Live Toolbar Web page.

Users requiring a toolbar with Group Policy support can opt to install the older MSN Search Toolbar, but this product is no longer supported by Microsoft. For more information, visit the MSN Search Toolbar Web page.

If you are interested in providing a desktop search entry point in Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 or later versions, toolbars are not required as WDS 3.x is the underlying indexing engine which powers the Instant Search functionality in these versions.

File Types Indexed by Default

Filters (implementations of the IFilter interface) are required to index the properties and contents of file types in the correct format. Common filters include those that are already in Office and that let you index, view, and search file names, metadata, and the contents of .doc or .xls files.

For files with no extension, only basic properties like filename are indexed. In addition, more custom file types can be interpreted and viewed in your preferred format when you create filters or protocol handlers. For file attachments, only base file types are inherently enabled for preview in the WDS results window. For additional control, the IT administrator can specify via policy additional file types that are allowed to be previewed via the WDS results window.

WDS has a filter to index virtually any file type as text, including the file name, the metadata, and the contents of the file. WDS indexes some popular file types as text and excludes others, as described below. Users can change these defaults on the on the File Types tab in the Advanced Options dialogue from the Indexing Options Control Panel. For additional control, IT administrators can also prevent certain file types from being indexed via Group Policy.

By default, the following file types are indexed as text:


By default, the following file types are excluded from the index:


Furthermore, Group Policy options can control which file types WDS indexes or is prevented from indexing by default.

File Systems and Removable Media Support

WDS 3.01 indexes all drives that specify themselves as either DRIVE_Fixed or DRIVE_REMOVABLE from the WIN32 API GetDriveType Function, except floppy drives. WDS can also index digital cameras, card readers, thumb drives, and firewire drives as long as they identify themselves as removable drives.

Natively, WDS 3.01 indexes NTFS drives with notifications, which means that a notifications provider notifies WDS that data on the drive has changed so WDS can update its index. WDS also natively supports FAT drives, but without notifications. In this case, WDS periodically crawls the drive looking for changes in data.

If you install the optional UNC protocol handler, WDS indexes UNC share, FAT32 drives and FAT drives with notifications.

For a list of downloadable add-ins, visit the Windows Search: Personalize It page.

See Also


WDS 3.01 Troubleshooting Guide

Other Resources

Windows Desktop Search Add-Ins
Windows Search Developer Guide
Windows Live Toolbar