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Take Advantage Of Vistas Powerful Search

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The Windows Sidebar team blog has a tip for getting the Vista Sidebar Slideshow Gadget to use images based on a search, rather than all the images in a specified location. The trick is to take advantage of Vista’s powerful search functionality (which regrettably, is hidden and handicapped in the Vista Explorer UI) to get the Gadget to use a virtual folder (known as a saved search) as its picture source.

All you have to do is run the search. Do whatever it takes, use all the search operators you need, and get the search exactly the way you want. Then, save the search as the only file in a folder. Point the Gadget at the folder, specify “Include subfolders” and, voila! The Gadget gets its pictures from the folder, which contains a search, thus having the functionality of finding images, wherever they are, that meet a certain criteria, and only showing those. You can even include multiple searches in the same folder to expand your results.

I’d imagine there are a lot of legacy programs that could be fooled into doing this. Rather than keeping all your music in a single folder, you could point your jukebox software at a virtual folder, and let Windows Vista find your music for you. Advanced search operators mean that you could include all music, except stuff that is too short, too long, too country, or includes the word “diddy”. Not that every program could use this, but its worth checking out, as a solution to a lot of otherwise hard work.

Vista contains a massive search backbone, one the operating system doesn’t use to its full potential. The reason: Older users got too confused. Just because it doesn’t do everything by default, doesn’t mean you can’t make it do what you need. Take advantage of the options available, and you’ll fall in love with it.

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Nathan Weinberg writes the popular InsideGoogle blog, offering the latest news and insights about Google and search engines.

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