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Fine-tune Vista's indexing options

Choose which drives, folders, and files Windows' built-in search function indexes.

After finding my post from last March about tweaking Vista's index locations, a reader sent me five questions. I don't have the person's name or e-mail address, so I'm going to respond in this post and hope they're still reading.

"Please advise step-by-step how to delete all the locations in the Indexed Locations screen at one time."

Press the Windows key, type indexing options, and press Enter. In the Indexing Options dialog box, click Modify > "Show all locations" (you may need to click through the User Account Control warning). Uncheck all the items listed under "Change selected locations," and click OK.

Windows Vista's Indexed Locations dialog box
Uncheck all the options under "Change selected locations" to stop Vista from indexing any locations. Microsoft

"Will deleting the locations in Indexed Locations have any effect on the files and folders, and whatever those locations are referring to?"

No. Your files and folders will not be affected by these settings.

"Is it 100 percent safe to delete the locations in the Indexed Locations screen?"

Yes. To undo any changes, simply reopen the Indexing Options dialog box, click Modify > "Show all locations," recheck the locations you want Vista to index for its search function, and click OK. Or select the Advanced button, choose the Restore Defaults option under the Index Settings tab, and click OK.

Windows Vista's Advanced Indexing Options
Restore Vista's default index settings by clicking Restore Defaults under Advanced Index Settings. Microsoft

"How do I simply prevent the Indexed Locations screen from accepting any more locations without actually deleting the Indexed Locations program?"

You can undo any change made to these settings, as described above.

"Do you happen to know of a Web site that has many items...found in Vista's Msconfig > Startup, showing their abbreviations and descriptions, and possibly also which items should not be unchecked?"

You can use Windows' System Configuration utility (aka Msconfig) to remove unwanted programs from your list of apps that start automatically with Vista, but there's a better way.

The Startup list in Windows' System Configuration utility
You can remove programs from Windows autostart list via System Configuration, but Vista's got a better way. Microsoft

To clear Startup apps the Msconfig way, press the Windows key, type msconfig, press Enter, click the Startup tab, and uncheck the items you don't want.

I prefer to use the Software Explorer component of Windows Defender to prune my autostart list. This program provides more information about the programs on the list and gives you more options. To open it, press the Windows key, type windows defender, press Enter, and click Tools > Software Explorer.

Choose Startup Programs in the Categories drop-down list, and click "Show for all users" at the bottom of the window. Select an item in the left pane to see information about it in the right window. Clear the program from your startup list by selecting it, and clicking either Remove or Disable.

Windows Vista's Software Explorer startup list
Vista's Software Explorer applet provides more information about your autostart programs. Microsoft

You'll find more details on Vista's Software Explorer in a Worker's Edge post from last April.