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Search assistant multiple results

etech0 asked
When I run a search for files, often I get multiple instances of each file in my search results. Sometimes it's two, sometimes three...
Is there a way to prevent this annoyance? I've had it on more than one machine.
Watch Question

Have you tried checking the path of each file to make sure that these aren't duplicate files on the system? Can you post a screenshot?
Dave BaldwinFixer of Problems
Most Valuable Expert 2014

This is normal on all machines I know of.  You will get multiples of some files, particulary DLLs, because programs keep their own copies instead of using 'system copies'.  It isn't a good idea to delete files like that because you can cripple the programs that are using that particular version.  If it's documents, it isn't unusual to get what are actually links to the file in the Most Recently Used list.  And programs often use the same names for files but keep them in different locations.  The name will be the same but the content will be different.


The file paths are the same - I can see that when showing 'details'.
The files are not in recent docs.
Also, I found it interesting to note that I have the same amount of duplicates of each file (ie: three of each).

Will follow with a screenshot - in case it will be helpful.
I found another question with the exact same problem as yours, but there is no solution given.  It is archived from Archived from  microsoft > public > windowsxp > help_and_support group

Same thing, 3 results, so it's likely to me more than just an isolated coincidence, but I don't really know the answer.  I've done quite a lot of searches but have not been able to replicate your issue.  It's definitely nothing to do with the same file packed into separate folders within a ZIP file, because this would be shown in the results with the folders' names from inside the Zip file, and the associated icons would not show for the files as they would if they were loose on the drive.

All I can really do is suggest a few things that you might want to test to see if you can get the search feature to behave as it should.

First off, is the "Indexing Service" enabled on your computer?
Quick way to check is: My Computer > Click one hard drive, hold CTRL and click the others if you have more than one hard drive > Right-Click  Properties.  There is a check-box at the bottom of the General tab entitled: "Allow indexing service to index this disc for fast file searching".

I always disable the Indexing Service simply because I have found it impacts on the speed of the computer and I have never noticed file searching being any more efficient with it enabled.

When you do a Windows Search and select the "Advanced" options, I believe that you should be able to tick the "Use Indexing Service" option.  I can't be sure about this because I have it disabled and this shows in the advanced options as "Indexing Service is currently disabled" with a link that opens a dialog to enable it and/or view the Advanced options for the service.

The Catalog details are visible if you do as follows:
Right-Click My Computer > "Manage".
Expand "Services and Applications" > Click on "Indexing Service".

Quicker method is Start > Run > and type   ciadv.msc   > click OK or press Enter.

To see details of, and Enable/Disable Services, you can click on the "Services" item if you used the long way above, or you can type   services.msc /s   in the Start Menu's Run field.

I am wondering if there is something corrupt with your "Index Catalog" if you have the service enabled.

Firstly can I suggest that you check in your Search dialog whether there is a "use Indexing Service" option when you choose an "Advanced" search.  If so, then try a search for one of the search terms you remember to have given multiple listings and untick that box to bypass the Index Catalog.

If there is no check-box, then temporarily disable the "Indexing Service" and do another search.  This SHOULD leave your existing Index catalog intact, but as I have not used it for a long time I cannot absolutely guarantee this, so just be aware of this possibility.

You can temporarily disable a Service using a few methods:

1. Services.msc window (as mentioned above) > double-click "Indexing Service" and click the "Stop" button.  You could optionally set it to "Disabled" and reboot, but as I mentioned above I cannot guarantee that this will not destroy your accumulated Indexing Catalog.  Even if it did, it would re-index everything again once re-enabled.

2. To stop Indexing a specific hard drive, you can uncheck the option from the drive's Right-Click > Properties > General tab and apply the change.  Same potential issue as above and no guarantees made.

3. Start Menu > Run  and type    MSCONFIG   > click OK or press Enter.
Services tab > Untick "Hide all Microsoft Services" if ticked.  Untick Indexing Service > Click Apply > Reboot when prompted.

4. Stop or Start a Service using the NET command:
net stop CiSvc
net start CiSvc

There is one thing that I should point out to you, and that is I always use the "Classic Search" in Windows XP rather than the horrible and supposedly user-friendly and simplified "Search Companion" that comes with annoying animated characters that I have no wish to see wagging a tail or waving a wand.

I don't think this would have any bearing on the results of your search issues, but if you are interested you can change the Search Companion to "Classic Search" in a number of ways.

1. TweakUI Windows XP PowerToy
4 rows down, 2 in from left.
Direct Link to installer package only.
Once opened from the new start menu folder it creates named "Powertoys for Windows XP" you click on the "Explorer" item and scroll down the options to the "Use Classic Search in Explorer" check-box.
WARNING:  The XP TweakUI has one error concerning the Explorer > Customizations > "Folders to Remember" value.  It writes a new and wrong registry key.  I modified TweakUI to fix this.  Also be aware that because this was out while Internet Explorer 6 was current, some of the Internet Explorer related options may mess up (or just be ineffectual on) IE7 and IE8.

2. Merging a *.REG file to your Registry.

Item 49 Left: "Old Style Search Engine On/Off"

Also Item 15 Right: "Disable Search Assistant - Undo".
Same results as *.reg files except they are interactive VBScript files that show confirmation dialogs when run.

3. Modifying the Registry in REGEDIT
Start Menu > Run > and type   REGEDIT    > click OK or press Enter.
navigate in the left pane expanding Keys to get to:
The actual value that you change to "yes" or "no" is:
"Use Search Asst"="no"
Double-Click on value and change it if "Use Search Asst" exists.
If not, click Edit menu > New > "String Value", name your new REG_SZ value in the right pane "Use Search Asst", and double-click on it to set the value to yes or no.
"yes" = keep using the default and annoying search dialog.
"no" = use classic search instead.

As I mentioned, this "Classic Search" vs "Search Companion" option probably will have no effect on your current issue and is just an aesthetic preference for me, but it might be worth trying just from an elimination point of view.

On the off-chance that your Search Assistant is actually corrupt, you could try reinstalling the required files.  Unfortunately I don't THINK that the 2 main DLL files used by the search function are "self-registerable" using the REGSVR32.EXE command as discussed in this article, but I might be wrong:

To reinstall the Search Assistant you will probably be prompted for the Windows XP CD but because some of the files involved could well have been updated by Service Packs since the original file versions on your CD, it is recommended that you direct the prompt to look in an alternative location as detailed in the above page:
"However, if you’ve installed SP1, SP2 or SP3 separately after installing Windows XP, you need to point to the "%windir%\ServicePackFiles\i386" folder when prompted."
That's supposedly "C:\Windows\ServicePackFiles\i386", but that doesn't exist on my XP SP3 system.

Open "C:\Windows\INF folder"
Right-Click on "srchasst.inf" and choose "Install".
This is discussed under the "Method 3: Reinstall the Search Companion Files" section here:

Personally I believe that your issue is with the "Indexing Catalog", and I would be inclined to force The Indexing Service to create a new catalog as detailed here:


These are some other useful references IF you feel competent:



I hope you can get this issue sorted out.



I am no longer seeing this problem, but will file your answer in case of future issues.
Thanks, everyone, for your participation!
Thank you etech0.  I'm glad your problem seems to have disappeared.  Hopefully my info might assist somebody else in the future if their issue doesn't go away by itself.