Searching From within File Explorer

by Barry Dysert
(last updated July 11, 2016)

2

I've found File Explorer to be one of the handiest utilities within Windows that there is. I always have at least one File Explorer window open at all times, and often times there are a few on my screen. Once of the nice features of File Explorer is its ability to search for files, and content within files, that are in the current folder. If you have folders that contain hundreds or thousands of files, using File Explorer's search capability will save you a great deal of time. Here is a picture of File Explorer with its search box circled: (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. File Explorer.

So your current folder is the Projects folder. Let's say you know you wrote a ReadMe.txt file to accompany one of your projects, but you've forgotten which one. Since the File Explorer search is recursive, it can search the entire tree of subdirectories under Projects. Click in the search box (where it says "Search Projects") and start typing (without quotes) "ReadMe.txt". Depending on the size of the Projects tree, it's quite likely that the search will return immediately with the found file highlighted: (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. Results of a file search.

You can now open the file, edit it, delete it, etc. And you found it much faster than if you would have navigated through all the subdirectories looking for it.

File Explorer's search can also find content within certain types of files. Let's say that you have a ReadMe.txt file associated with each of your programs. However, one of your programs is obsolete and you've indicated that in its ReadMe file. You can search for the word "obsolete" and you'll be immediately taken to the file containing that piece of text.

 This tip (13456) applies to Windows 10.

Author Bio

Barry Dysert

Barry has been a computer professional for over 30 years, working in different positions such as technical team leader, project manager, and software developer.  He is currently a senior software engineer with an emphasis on developing custom applications under Microsoft Windows. ...

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What is three minus 2?

2016-07-12 22:22:43

Alex B

Looking inside the files is probably one of the slower search options (and is also the default).

It is often more efficient to use the search keywords to limit the scope ie
filename:
type: ie txt or Text, word or doc
modified:fromdate..todate (also > or <)

PS: for a starting point on this see https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa965711


2016-07-11 09:06:32

Henry Noble

After clicking in the search box, search tools will appear in the ribbon. These are useful for limiting searches to files of a certain type, size, date range, etc.

By default, Windows only indexes files in directories where average users are likely to need to look. However, the readers of these Tips are, by definition, above average and will often need to search entire drives.

To speed searches in non-indexed locations, modify the list of indexed locations to include those directories and drives of importance to you. This is done via the Indexing Options in Control Panel.


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