Calling WDS from the Command Line

[Windows Search 2.x is obsolete after Windows XP. Instead, use Windows Search.]

You can launch the Microsoft Windows Desktop Search (WDS) user interface with a specific filter, store, and query from another application or a webpage that uses the Browser Helper Object (BHO) by using the windowssearch.exe command line syntax. When calling WDS from the command line, no information about the user's actions or selection in the WDS window is returned to the calling application or webpage.

The WDS installation path is specified in the InstallDir registry setting under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows Desktop Search. The default path that windowssearch.exe is installed to is Program Files\Windows Desktop Search.

Command Line Syntax

The following syntax applies to the Windows Desktop Search 2.x command-line interface.

Options Parameter Meaning
/startup Initializes Windows Desktop Search
/indexnow Turns off indexing back-off and rescans all index locations
/showstatus Shows the indexing status window
/launchsearchwindow or /url Opens a WDS window with an empty query
/url search:[store|show|query] query string Opens a WDS window with a query and filter based on the following parameters:
  • store - Specifies the data source to query: files, outlook, outlookexpress. If not specified all stores will be searched.

    While Advanced Query Syntax supports referencing Microsoft Outlook as 'oe', the store parameter on the command line must be 'outlookexpress'.

  • show - Specifies which perceived type of results to return. See [Perceived Types]( for a complete list of types. If not specified, all types will be returned.

    There are three differences between the perceived type values and the values for show. For show, use 'documents' instead of 'doc', 'pictures' instead of 'pics', and 'textdocuments' instead of 'text'.

  • query - Specifies the search criteria. This value supports [Advanced Query Syntax]( parameters to refine the results. The query parameter must be the last parameter in the URL.


For example, to search all files for pictures matching the criteria 'wallpaper' use the following command:

WindowsSearch.exe /url search:store=files&show=pictures&query=wallpaper


Advanced Query Syntax

Perceived Types

Calling WDS from Web Pages