How to Find Files Fast Using DOS and Notepad

Do you have a large hard drive? Mine isn’t very big, but I’ve still got over 90,000 files on it.

When I use Windows built in search tool to search for files, it seems to take ages for it to even start looking. It’s almost like the search tool wakes from a deep sleep and decides to start work after a cup of coffee. I can’t blame it, I feel the same way most mornings.


The solution I’ve come up with works for me and maybe it’ll work for you as well. It doesn’t require any tools that aren’t already on your Windows machine.

I wanted to search a network drive with over 600,000 files on it. Windows searches were taking up to half an hour to produce results. I was prepared to take a lunch break when I initiated a search.

I decided to fall back on my rusty old skills as a DOS batch file guru.

I wrote up a single line of text in Notepad with the following command on it where M: was the network drive I wanted to search.

DIR /B /S M:\*.* > C:\M_file_list.txt


Then I saved the file as a .BAT file in a handy location.

Double clicking the BAT file launched it. When I launch a batch file, it helps if I stand and pronounce this chant in a loud voice with both hands raised over the PC.

By the Power of DOS, I command you!

That really works best in a quiet room full of people who have no clue what I’m doing.

Fifteen minutes later, I had a text list that included the full path of all 600,000 files on the M: drive.


Now whenever I need to find a file, I open up the M_file_list text file and hit F3 or CTRL+F to open up the text search dialog.

Searching the text file is hundreds of times faster than Windows standard search was taking. The search takes around   5 or 10 seconds instead of half an hour. That does cut into my long lunch breaks, but we all have to sacrifice things in these hard times.



When I find the file I want, I copy the file path and paste it into the Start -> Run menu, to open the folder or the file itself.


Happy searching!

You can leave out the chanting if you have to.

Published by

Clif Sipe

Promoting Freeware and Free information since 2004. Owner of with over 2000 pages of freebies. Please subscribe to my Google Feed or follow me on Twitter @clifnotes.