Inside Secrets of MSN Desktop Search
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Advanced Search Queries
Besides the usual (and obvious) way to search for documents by using keywords, you can also streamline your search query by specifying advanced search queries. Here are some examples:
kind:email from:wei-meng lee after:12/8/2004
Find all emails from Wei-Meng Lee sent after Dec. 8, 2004.
Find all documents authored by Jeff (includes PowerPoint files, Word documents, and emails).
Find all documents authored by Jeff stored in Outlook Express.
Find all folders containing the word Articles.
Find all emails with subject line containing the word Courses
For a list of advanced search queries, refer to the Help file that comes with MSN Toolbar (see Figure 9).
Figure 9. Help for MSN Toolbar
Other MSN Toolbar Features
Besides the MSN Desktop Search, the MSN Toolbar comes with other interesting tools, which are useful for when you search the Internet rather than your desktop.
One interesting tool in MSN Toolbar is the Viewer. To see the Viewer in action, I searched the Web using the phrase .NET Compact Framework.
Figure 10 shows one of the pages returned by MSN Search. You can click on the Viewer icon on the MSN Toolbar, and a small Highlight Viewer window displaying a bird's-eye view of the page will appear. When the Viewer is turned on, the page will automatically color-code your search query. The Highlight Viewer window shows the number of matching keywords; you can easily navigate the page by clicking on the Prev or Next buttons. You can also scroll the page quickly by dragging and dropping the red rectangle.
Figure 10. The Viewer in action
Another welcome feature is Form Fill. Using Form Fill, you can predefine commonly used information such as names, addresses, phone and fax numbers, credit card information, and sign-ins to your emails. Once you do that, you can pop them automatically into any Web form, saving yourself the bother of filling out long forms.
You can configure Form Fill by selecting Options in the Form Fill menu in the MSN Toolbar (see Figure 11).
Figure 11. Configuring Form Fill
You have several options for Form Fill, such as filling out addresses automatically and saving web site sign-in information (see Figure 12). To prevent other people from viewing your sensitive information, always protect your information by setting a password for Form Fill.
Figure 12. Customizing Form Fill
You can predefine commonly used information such as addresses (see Figure 13). Multiple addresses can also be defined.
Figure 13. Adding addresses to Form Fill
So the next time you need to fill in a form, clicking on the Form Fill button in MSN Toolbar will automatically fill in the form for you (see Figure 14).
Figure 14. Let Form Fill complete forms for you
When you sign in to a web site, Form Fill will prompt you to save your sign-in information, provided you have configured Form Fill to save the information automatically (see Figure 15).
Figure 15. Saving sign-in credentials using Form Fill
The next time you sign in to the site, you can use Form Fill to fill in the log-in credentials.
In this article you have seen the new search capabilities of the MSN Desktop Search. It's an impressive enough tool that Google should start worrying. And the battle of search is starting to get very interesting. Ultimately, users are the greatest beneficiaries of this intense competition. Hey, who says competition is bad?
Wei-Meng Lee (Microsoft MVP) http://weimenglee.blogspot.com is a technologist and founder of Developer Learning Solutions http://www.developerlearningsolutions.com, a technology company specializing in hands-on training on the latest Microsoft technologies.
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