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How to Add Network Folders to the Windows Search Index

In Windows 10, the search feature by default indexes your Internet Explorer history, Start menu, and your entire Users folder in the system partition. What if you want to add a network folder to the search index in Windows 10? For example, suppose you have a NAS (network attached storage) and you have a bunch of videos, pictures and files that just won’t fit on your computer?

In this article, I will show you how to add a network folder to the search index so that when you search for a file from Explorer, you also get results that include files stored in the network folder.

Note. Technically, the Windows client will not add the network location to the local search index. Instead, it will pass this search to the server, and the server will perform searches using its index. If you try to search the NAS, it will search in real time, so it will take some time for the results to appear. When searching on a Windows file server, you must ensure that the search index on the server includes all the locations you want.

Step 1 – Share the folder

The first thing you need to do is share the folder that you want to include in the index. You will need to share the folder on your NAS or on the host computer, for example if these are files stored on a Windows PC. As an example, I wanted to include some files stored on my Windows 7 PC in the Windows 10 search index. Here are three test files that I want to include:

So I went to Windows 7 and opened the folder by right-clicking and choosing Properties.

Then I clicked the Sharing tab, Accessible, checked the Share this folder box, clicked Permissions, and gave everyone full access. Obviously, you don’t have to give everyone full control, I just do it here because it’s easier to set up.

Step 2 – Map a Network Drive

Then you have to map the folder as a drive in Windows 10. You can do this by opening Explorer and clicking Network at the bottom. Find your NAS, file server or computer in the list, then double-click it to see the shared folders.

Go ahead and click on the shared folder and then click on Easy Access and Map as Drive. Note that you can also just right-click the folder and select Map Network Drive. You will need to provide credentials to log on to a file server or network computer.

Note that if both machines do not have the same username and password, then you need to select the Connect using different credentials check box, and then enter the username and password for that computer or file server. Now when you go to your computer, the mapped drive should be listed.

Now right click on the network drive and select Properties. At the bottom, be sure to check the box Allow files on this disk to index content in addition to file properties.

Once you do this, the new files will be scanned and included in Windows 10 search. Depending on how many files have been added, it may take some time before you start seeing results. Now when I do a search, I see files from the mounted NAS folder:

Sweet! Also note that for certain types of files, such as Word documents, it also indexes the contents of the files, so you can search within text files, etc. As I mentioned earlier, these files are not indexed in the local search index, though. If you click “Start” and enter the indexing parameters, you will see that the mapped network drive is not in the list and cannot be added.

Basically, the search is done in real time, so it will be slow if you have a huge number of files on the network share. That’s all! Also be sure to check out my post on how to rebuild your search index if you are not getting all the results you want when doing your search. If you’re having trouble finding your network location in Windows 10, please leave a comment here and I’ll try to help. Enjoy!

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