I've encountered many searching problems over time, and also many questions on this board that could easily be solved by correct searching, so I compiled some tips...
1. Know what you want:
Unless you're searching for a very common file, you'll need more than just 1-2 search criteria. It helps knowing the filesize, format (if not searching a standart one), name (as many words as possible), language, etc. of the file. Therefore, if you only know very little about the file, do a Google search. For example, if you want a song and only know some of the lyrics, do a Google search with the lyrics in quotes and find out the artist/title/album of the song to help you search on Kazaa. Same goes for movies (try to find key actors, etc.), games (developer, publisher, ...), etc.
2. Use Tools:
AutoSearchMore is a tool that comes with Kazaa++ and it is key in searching. Usually you won't need to leave it on for more than 10 minutes or so, but for rare files, i recommend leaving it on for a few hours. If your screen start flashing, it means you abused AutoSearchMore. Therefore you should stop the search and then click search again if you're still not satisfied with the results.
KazaaSearch is a tool that can be found on http://kazaasearch.narod.ru and it lets you search and download items automatically. It gives you the same options as Kazaa to search, but allows you to customize how many times you want the 'Search More' button pressed and a few more things. Once it finds something, it downloads it automatically, therefore, use this program at your own risk (recommended only for RARE files). So leave it on for the night and wake up to find what you were looking for already downloaded...
3. Verify the file, if you can:
The FastTrack network, to which Kazaa connects, has a lot of fakes, misnamed files, dummies, virii, etc. therefore once you find a file, you must find out if it is what you are looking for. There are quite a few ways to find out.
a) Click the Plus next to the title to see all results for that particular file. If all files have the same (or a similar) title, then it is likely correct. If the titles are different, use one of the other methods.
B) Ask the people who have the file - this is something that you probably shouldn't do, but it could often save you a lot of trouble. Send a message to 5 or so people who have the file you want to verifiy and you will usually get a correct reply.
c) Use common sense - a movie that is 3 hours cannot be 700 MB for the whole movie - at least not in good quality. And a game that is 3 CDs can't be 200 MB 99% of the time. Therefore, don't aim for the smallest file, but avoid the ones that seem to you out of the size range of the file you want.
d) Use verifieds websites - there are hundreds of these websites and forums. www.sharereactor.com is probably the biggest, so use it to find the release you want and see its filesize. Other sites are www.nforce.nl and www.verifieddownloads.com (and of course, our forum).
e) Ask a friend - this is a very quick and sure way to verify files - if you know a friend who has this file and who is online on IM or IRC or whatnot, ask them to tell you the filesize.
f) Use AVIPreview, DatView, KDat and the music preview option in Kazaa. All these things can tell you whether the file is real after only a few megabytes of downloading (for DatView and KDat, extract the file and copy it elsewhere and preview with whatever program you see fit)
g) View the file description - this usually doesn't help, but sometimes the people who purposely misname files to annoy others leave the description as it was before, which sometimes says (or hints at) what the real files is.
SEARCHING FOR EVERYTHING
Searching for a file that is now Audio, Video, Document, Image or Playlist is probably the most difficult as you cannot specify any parameters except the search keywords and you are most likely to get many useless results. Therefore, search for Everything only if your file really doesn't fit into any other category. If you're looking for a Song or the music video for that song, it's better to first do an audio search and then video, or vice versa. Typical Everything searches include ISO/BIN/CUE/CCD/NRG/IMG (CD Images for games), RM(VB) files which don't fall into the Video category in Kazaa, ZIP/RAR/ACE archives, or single files from games.
Here are some Everything tips:
1. Search by users:
Yes, I know you can't search a user in Kazaa, but i mean something else. Say you want a file from a game called ra2 exe (the Red Alert 2 executable). If you search for "ra2 exe" in Kazaa, you'll get 99% useless results, because many EXEs have the ra2 string in one of their parameters, or maybe in the description. Therefore, find a file in your RA 2 directory that seems like it would get very few results (for example, thememd mix - a Yuri's Revenge file) and look for that. Then when you find a user who has it, click Find More from the Same User and you will get the file you originally wanted (Ra2.exe).
2. Search by the release group:
There are a few major release groups for games, so if you're searching for a game image, you should look for the release group as well as the name - for example, "Red Alert 2 Sharereactor Iso" or "NHL 2003 Deviance Bin". Main release groups are Deviance, Fairlight, ShareReactor, Razor1911, GimpRus and many more - go to www.sharereactor.com or www.nforce.nl to find who released what. If you're looking for a game crack, you should look under Software, because a crack is almost always an Exe. Usually the released that released the game makes the crack for it too.
3. Searching for ZIP, RAR, etc.:
I can't help you much here - for most apps that are packed into an archive there's no developer/release group in the filename or description, and many are named only by the archive name, which is often unintelligible (i.e. UMSWE3.3.zip for a prog called Mpq2k). Therefore, for these apps that are packed like that, search Google or www.download.com instead. You will most likely find what you need, and if it isn't free, there's always www.google.com or www.crackfind.com to make it a 'legal' copy. If that doesn't work, you can use Direct Connect (www.dcplusplus.com or www.neomodus.com) and ask and download these apps there.
SEARCHING FOR VIDEO
Searching for videos is probably the easiest thing and yet people usually have the most trouble with it. Video searches are usually for either a movie, a music video, a TV show, a TV series, a sports clip or pr0n (i probably forgot some more).
1. Searching for Movies:
This is extremely easy - you must know yourself whether the movie is common or not. If it is, type in the movie name and go to www.sharereactor.com or www.fasttrackcentral.com to find out the size. You will find the movie you are looking for, probably in different encoding, some 2-CD, some 1-CD, and some TMD versions. TMDs are low in quality, so you should usually download the version which you verified, and if there's more than one, get the one you like more... If the movie isn't common, first do a search just like the above, if it returns no real results, or too many, first verify the file and if none match your verification, turn on KazaaSearch with as many criteria as you can (key actors, language, resolution, artist, etc. etc.) and leave it alone for a few hours... if the movie is a cinema screener then enter the word "cam" in the search bar as well as the rest.
2. Searching for Music Videos:
This is also extremely easy - enter the artist and song name under Video, set the filesize to at least 20 megs so you don't get some BS and you will likely have a few results with good music videos that you were looking for. If the title of the song has 1-2 words or you're not sure about the artist, do a Google search (as was mentioned somewhere above) and you will know.
3. Searching for TV Commercials:
The key here is the year - if you simply look, say, for a Mountain Dew commercial, you're going to get ~10 different ones. Sure, you can download them all, but if you want a specific one, you must find out either the year when the commercial was shows, or who plays in it. The first is much easier, since you probably saw the commercial and know in what year you saw it. If not, do a Google search to find out with as much info about the commercial as you know (even info that wouldn't put in the Kazaa search bar, for example on what channel the commercial was shown and the approximate description of the commercial).
4. Searching for TV Series:
TV series have the following attributes: who made them, what channel they were shown on (the original, at least), who dubbed them (if it's international), who were the actors, or voice actors (if cartoon), what season and episode number, and of course, what name the episode had. Series like The Simpsons and Friends are common, so you just enter the episode name and the series name and you find it. If you don't know the episode name, go to the official webpage of the series (search Google) and browse through the summaries there. A quicker resolution would be to enter the ep description in Google, but that can lead you to numerous forums where the people don't know the episode name themselves. Entering the year of the season in the Kazaa search bar doesn't really help. If you're looking for an anime series like Dragonball, you usually have a Japanese and an English version, as well as other languages. If you want the subbed version, choose Japanese in the language selection and type "subs" or "subbed" in the search bad as well as the series name and the episode name/number (for Dragonball the format should be "DB - [ep number] - [subbed if you need]". If you're looking for the english version, make sure that it doesn't say anywhere Japanese in the Language bar, and that it doesn't say 'Subbed' anywhere (and that the ep name is the English name, not the translated Japanese name, which are usually different).
5. Searching for pr0n:
This is a tough one - for every good clip there are 10 bad ones, low-quality ones, and child porn. The safe way is to go to a free pr0n site without all the BS (100 popups, etc.), which offers good content, and see the names of the clips you like there (they are usually series). So if you have a clip named 'kac1.mpg' then you can feel safe to search Kazaa for 'kac2 mpg', 'kac3 mpg' etc. Another good way is to know the pornstars - if you have a few favourite ones then you can't really go wrong - just type the name of the star in the search bar and you'll find a lot of clip you'll like (and fewer that you won't like). Also, don't go for clips below 3 MB because they usually suck. 6-10 MB is the usual size for a clip. As for pr0n movies, use the same methods of searching as for the regular movie (instead of actors there are pornstars). Resolution is also important here because there are thousands of 60x60 clips there that are almost impossible to watch.
SEARCHING FOR MUSIC
Many would argue that SoulSeek, WinMX, etc. are THE programs to download music, but i think Kazaa is just as good - I mean, there isn't a song that a Kazaa user doesn't have, the only difference is that Soulseek has a buddy list and WinMX has more music sharers than any others. I don't have many tips for looking for music - even the ones I do i listed before - search Google if you're unsure about a certain criterion, and if you're sure don't bother, just search Kazaa right away with the artist/title/album. There aren't many issues with fake music so verification isn't necessary - besides, if you get a fake track you can easily dl another - they usually don't take more than 8 MB and are mostly common. The only other tip, or rather suggestion, i have is to download the track with the biggest size (within reason). Then you can always encode it to near-CD quality if you're low on disk space, but that isn't likely.
SEARCHING FOR DOCUMENTS
Documents - PDFs, DOCs and TXTs are mostly Books and manuals (at least the useful ones), so there isn't much to search for and not many criteria - there's the author of the book, the book name, the year when it was released. The word 'ebook' is important in searches if you're looking for books. For manuals, search for '[name] manual', if you aren't satisfied with the result, look for '[name] guide', '[name] course' or any other synonim to the word Manual. However, i think it's better to search Google instead, 'cause most books are out there in DOC or TXT format on the internet and it's sometimes not worth the trouble to search Kazaa. Also you might want to go to www.sharereactor.com to verify the size of the book.
SEARCHING FOR IMAGES
This is the only think for which you can't verifiy the size - sizes in Kazaa are listed in Kilobytes and many images have the same size in KB, but not in bytes. However, images are mostly small so you can download many in a few minutes and delete the ones you don't like. You should usually search for the image theme, but be exact as possible (say, you want to search for DBZ pics but there are thousands, including Hentai, so you want to specify the character and maybe their action). For example, your search string could be 'DBZ Goku fighting'. If you're looking for a poster/wallpaper, it's good to specify the filesize to at least 100 KB and add 'Wallpaper' or 'poster' to the search string. However, if you want good wallpapers, i think it's better to go to a website like www.deviantart.com or www.webshots.com (or the official site of the wallpaper theme, like www.blizzard.com for StarCraft wallpapers).
SEARCHING FOR SOFTWARE
Software is only EXE files in Kazaa, so with that option you search for Installers. However, to search for software, you must know EXACTLY what you're looking for, or the search will be very difficult, with many fakes and installed applications (i.e. if you're searching for Macromedia Flash, you might find Flash.exe installed, which would be useless to dl alone). If you don't know exactly what you're looking for, pay a visit to www.download.com and search for your software. You can also search Google if you don't even know the name of the program you want, but only want a program that does a particular thing. Finally, you can ask in this forum because for every application you might have, there are tens, maybe hundreds of different programs and you can't try them all... so a recommendation is needed. If you are searching Kazaa, you should probably at least specify the developer of the software as well as the name, because the other parameters you can specify are almost useless (except filesize). The bad thing is that you can't verify your filesize on most release sites because they only release ZIPs, RARs or CD Images.
That concludes my guide... please comment and tell me if i need to add anything (i'm sure i do). Sry that i didn't include a Searching for Playlists category, but i have no experience with that...
I forgot to list some useful sites that could replace searching for files in Kazaa.
For music, there's:
http://mp3.rin.ru/index_e.html (Same as above in English)
http://www.mp3port.ru (down right now, but may be back soon)
Sry, i know only 1 English-only sites for mp3s because most English-speaking people seem to be afraid of the RIAA... but the Russian sites i listed have English music too.
Can't remember any more sites (that is, for books and other stuff, but if i find any i will post them)