Pretty Run is a versatile desktop search tool

The standard Windows Search tool has improved a great deal in recent years, and the latest Windows 8.1 additions -- especially its Bing integration -- are another welcome step forward.

The technology still won't be enough for everyone, though. And so if you're looking for a more configurable, desktop search tool, you might like to try the free Pretty Run.

The program is a compact download, and after an event-free installation (as long you've dodged the adware), adds a simple icon to your system tray. To get started, just launch this, type a keyword in the Search box, and browse the results.

Just as with the regular search tool, you'll get results from your desktop, Start Menu (if you have one) and Control Panel. But it can also check your bookmarks (IE, Chrome, Firefox), specific folders, particular MP3 files (including tags), your clipboard, and more. Any matches are shown, and you can open them with a click.

This is all very configurable, too. The program doesn't have to check all of these areas, or scan every folder on your drive. You could set it up to scan only your desktop, bookmarks and C:\WorkFiles folder, if you prefer, and that helps to keep your searches very fast.

Pretty Run also has an option to search specified databases, with your own custom SQL queries.

A "magic words" system helps you create aliases for commonly-used programs, for example using "np" to launch Notepad.

The program supports internet search engines. If you don't find what you need on your system, clicking the Google, Bing, IMDB, YouTube and other icons will open a page of results from that site, and you can add other search engines as required.

And the features continue, everywhere you look. You can create "run groups", to launch several programs with one click. Search filters hide items you don’t need, for more relevant results. And there’s a right-click option to run any item as an administrator, when necessary.

The program has its limits. Pretty Run is a launcher, rather than a complete search tool. It doesn’t index or search for content, and the results aren't presented in a glossy, Windows 8.1-style interface.

Features like database searching mean Pretty Run can still be very useful, though, and if you need a more configurable desktop search tool and launcher then it deserves a closer look.

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