Searching Files with WordPerfect

Searching Files with WordPerfect

by Kendall Callas

Writing is a bit like hunting for gold. One struggles to find nuggets of expression, veins of thought. And it's hard work refining pay dirt from raw language.

If you've been word processing for long, you've amassed a fortune in words. Those documents on your hard disk represent a mother lode of ideas, bon mots, well-turned phrases, boilerplate text and re-usable formats.

But to use them again, you've got to find them. A typical hard disk stores thousands of files. How can you pan for gold in your river of files? Let me introduce the Find function in WordPerfect for DOS 5.1 and 6.0.

It's purpose is to scan the contents of files on disk to locate the word or phrase you specify. It's fast and easy to search through your documents for research purposes, to update records, or to re-use boilerplate text.

Find lived for a long time as item #9 on the List Files screen. (In version 4.2, it was called "Word Search.") Since version 6.0, it's been called QuickFinder.

Long hobbled by it's limitation of working in only one directory at a time, the version 6.0 QuickFinder solves this problem and adds impressive new features. Now you can search using proximity logic; index files for very fast searches; and search the whole disk drive, an entire branch of directories, or an index spanning multiple disks or directories.

I recently encountered a practical demonstration of how useful this feature can be. A mailing I sent out returned dozens of undeliverable envelopes back to me. Since I keep my mailing lists categorized in several address list files, I had to search amongst them to find each address. In WordPerfect 5.1, I used F5/List Files to display my address lists (F5, C:\MAILING\*.LST, Enter). Then I pressed the letter "F" to select 9/Find, then "E" (item #4) to search the entire contents of each address list file. At the "Word Pattern:" prompt, I typed in the name from the envelope and pressed Enter. After a very quick search, the resulting List Files screen was reduced to a single file that contained the name I searched for. Then it was simple to retrieve the file, use F2 to search within it to locate the entry, and correct it.

To start from the beginning, to use the Find function:

1) Tap F5, then press Enter to list your files.

2) Tap the letter "F". (In WP 5.1, this selects 9/Find; in 6.0, this selects QuickFinder.)


Now you'll see a menu across the bottom of your screen which includes:

3 First Pg; 4 Entire Doc; 5 Conditions

Select 3 or 4 to define the depth of your search. Then, at the "Word pattern:" prompt, type the words you're looking for (to get some help, tap F3 then press "W" for an informative screen about logical operators). The search is rapid, counting up the files as it scans them, ending with a List Files screen of the files which contain the word pattern.

For a tiered approach, you may search again through the resulting list of files; simply press "F".

To narrow your search using filename wildcards, begin the process with F5, but then pause to change the *.* to a more specific pattern; for example, *.INV or EXP*.* to list invoices or expense reports.

For more control, choose "5 Conditions" at the beginning of your search. Here you can add multiple criteria for a search, including a date range and searches within document summary fields.

Here's a handy trick to see the list of search results again. If you leave List Files, say to work on one of the files you found, get back to it by tapping the F5 key twice -- this will redisplay the last List Files screen you viewed.


After selecting QuickFinder from the File Manager (F5, Enter, "F"), you'll see a well-organized screen titled QuickFinder Search. This is a grown-up version of the Find:Conditions screen in WP 5.1. To move from field to field, use your mouse, Tab and Shift+Tab, or the mnemonic letters and the function keys as they become visible.

In the "Search For:" field, type the words you seek. To use AND and OR logic, tap F2 for Operators (here also is "Closeness of Words" which allows proximity searching for words within the same page, paragraph, sentence, line, etc.).

"Search In:" allows you to specify the scope of the search: Drive, Directory, Subtree, or Index. Drive will search the entire disk. Subtree includes files in all subdirectory branches.

Index searches are fast and powerful. Tremendous speed comes from the index file -- essentially a sorted list of the pooled words with pointers to the files that contain them -- which must be setup in advance and reindexed as needed.

"File Pattern:" allows you to use the *.* pattern to your advantage. Narrow your search by specifying the first few letters of the filenames (such as SMITH*.*), or indicate a filename extension (such as *.INV, *.FAX, *.LTR).

To enable searching within the document summary fields, at the QuickFinder Search screen, press Setup/Shift+F1 and select item 3. This allows you to scroll through a list of document summary fields to specify search terms.

"File Date Range:" offers nice flexibility with a choice of All Dates, On, Before, After, and Between. Enter dates in almost any format: "1-1-95", "1/1/95", "jan 1 95", or "1 jan 95".

To redisplay the results of previous searches, select Redo, a button near the bottom right. For a tiered approach, you may search again through the resulting list of files; press "F" once again, then set "Search In:" to "Search Results".

In both versions, 5.1 and 6.0, to search for verbatim phrases, they should be enclosed in quotes. For example, the word pattern of Karl Marx would find a file that contains Karl Mauldin and Groucho Marx. But the word pattern "Karl Marx" would find only exact matches.

Now when you need to find it fast, let WordPerfect do the looking. "Even in a casserole, you can find God" according to St. Teresa of Avila. Just think what you might find on your hard disk!

Copyright (C) 1995 by microCounsel, (415) 921-6850. All rights reserved.

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