I've always liked Copernic, which is a cool research tool that aggregates search results from multiple subject-specific sites and allows you to save them, filter them, etc. Now the same people who created Copernic have the best free Desktop Search Tool available, which is called (not surprisingly) Copernic Desktop Search. For the uninitiated, a desktop search tool is a search engine for your own computer. It searches e-mail, files, music, and photos located on your own hard drive. Given the expanding size of hard drives, the number of e-mails we have to wade through, and our own lack of organization, this has become a necessity.
Everyone's been talking about Google's Desktop Search because, I think, people just like to talk about Google. I tried Google's and I really didn't like it. It killed my system and really didn't do the job. Don't get me wrong, Google itself is a fine search engine, but mostly because of its massive index. When I'm searching my own stuff, I'm more interested in ease of use, stability, and filtering. All of which Copernic provides with aplomb.
Copernic Desktop Search, once installed, starts indexing all the stuff on your hard drive. Depending on how much stuff you have, it could take a while, however it runs very silently in the background and uses very little system resources. You can install it and work on other things as it goes about its indexing business. I'd say install it and let it run overnight.
Next time you reboot and you'll notice a little search window in your task bar. When you click in the search window, you'll notice a little menu pop up above it. Go ahead and type in the word or phrase you wish to search for and then click on the appropriate item in the menu, which includes things like: Emails, Files, Music, etc. (you can also choose to search external sources like News, the web, etc.) The Copernic Desktop Search window will come up and list the results. This is very slick, quick and easy. The results window offers a preview window so you don't have to open any of the results to see them. Another nice feature.
For me the true test of a tool like this is how often I use it in my daily work. I use Copernic Desktop Search 5-6 times a day, usually for e-mail, but for files as well. I think you'll find yourself using it just as much.