Windows Search Tips & Tricks: How to Easily Master Windows Search

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Usually we search files in Windows by just typing a few letters in the search box (on top right of any Windows Explorer window), but Windows offers advanced techniques which makes it million times more useful. For most Windows users such tricks remain ‘hidden’ until they try to find it somewhere.

Initially I tried alternative third-party utilities like UltraSearch, SnowBird, FileSearchEx, etc. But all they disappointed me and I uninstalled all of them because none of them seemed user-friendly and failed to give that Windows feel.
File Search

The fact is, no third-party software provides as much powerful, accurate and fast search as Windows itself. Here is the complete guide listing all Windows search tips and tricks to help you master it:

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notes or filename:notes or Name:notes
Simply find files having the word ‘notes’ as a whole word in the file name: Like notes, my notes, notes taken, etc.
ext:.exe
Files having extension ‘exe’
ext:<>.exe
Files not having extension ‘exe’
filename:~<“notes” or ~<“notes”
Files whose names begin with “notes”
“My Notes” or filename:=”My Notes” or =”My Notes”
Use quotes to find file matching exactly same name
filename:~!”notes” or ~!”notes”
Files whose name doesn’t contain “notes”
filename:~=”note” or ~=”note”
Files names whose names contain the word “note”, for example, mynotes, notes, _notes, notebook, etc.
Alternatively you can also use *note*.
(jignesh rathod)
Use parentheses to find files that contain both words in any order. For example, Jignesh Rathod, Rathod Jignesh.
date:this week
Files created this week
date:01-01-2013..31-01-2013
Files created within provided dates
date:>15-01-2013
Files created after provided date
date:<15-01-2013
Files created before provided date
datemodified:25/12/2013 or Modified:25/12/2013
Files modified on given date. Can be used with keywords ..,< or < same as shown above.
kind:pictures
Find files of type pictures without caring about extensions
kind:video
Same way, find any types of videos
kind:music Rahman
Find music files by artist name
size:gigantic
Try it to know who’s eating so much space on your computer!
size:500MB..800MB
Files having size between 500 and 800 MB
size:5MB
Files with size greater than 5 MB.
mynotes folder:desktop
Files with given file name within specified special folder like desktop, documents.
mynotes folder:c:\program files
Files with given file name within specified folder path
contents:notes
Find the word within files, this may take longer time. Read our detailed article on how to find text within files.
author:Jignesh
Files whose author name is Jignesh
author:~!”Jignesh”
Files whose author name doesn’t contain ‘Jignesh’
keywords:morning or Tag:morning
Files tagged with the word ‘morning’.

Using Wildcards:
Use question mark (?) for specific number of characters and asterisk (*) for any number of characters.

note?
Find files starting with ‘note’ but having only 5 characters: For example notes or noted.
Using note??? will give you files with ‘notice’ and ‘noting’.
*note*
Find files containing ‘note’ anywhere like notes, note-book, mynotes, _notes, noted, notepad, etc.
Using note* will give you files beginning with ‘note’ and *note will give ending with ‘note’.

Using Operators:

great AND place
Find files which contain both the words ‘great’ and ‘place’ even if they are used in any order
great OR place
Find files having any word of provided.
great NOT place
Find files containing ‘great’ but will exclude which contain ‘place’

Tip: Use operators in upper case letters

Using Multiple Keywords together
You can also use above keywords together to get best of out Windows search. For example:

ext:(.jpg OR .png) AND Name:login AND Size:>5KB
This will give you all JPG and PNG files containing the word ‘login’ with size greater than 5KB
kind:pictures AND ext:<>.gif AND (filename:funny OR filename:*share*) AND (filename:~=”tech” AND filename:~=”computer”)
Find all pictures except .GIF animations, file name contains ‘funny’ or ‘share’ or ‘shared’, but file name does not contain words ‘tech’ and ‘computer’.
filename:draft AND author:jignesh AND (date:01-01-2013..31-01-2013 OR datemodified:01-01-2013..31-01-2013) AND size:500KB..4MB
Find files named ‘draft’ by author Jignesh created or modified during the year 2013, between size 500KB and 4MB

Tip: When you are using ‘OR’ keyword, double-check if you need to use brackets (parentheses) for correct search condition.

How to Clear Search History

There are two ways you can easily clear recently searched items in Windows.
1. Very simple method I recommend. Click on the search textbox at the top right and it will open a popup listing recently searched items. Highlight the item you want to remove and press ‘Delete’ key. Keep the key pressed to easily remove all items. Very easy, wasn’t it?
2. Some advanced trick. Open Windows Registry Editor using ‘regedit’ command. Go to following path: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\WordWheelQuery.
Right click on folder ‘WordWheelQuery’ and delete it. This will clear the search history.

Useful Features in Search Results

Search Result Details

Choose the ‘Details’ view to see the location (directory) of files.

Search Results- Group by Folders

Use ‘Group By’ to club files by folder, type,  size, date-time, etc.

Do you know about any other Windows search trick we might have missed here? Please share!

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Comments

  1. says

    Hello,

    Wow it is really a comprehensiveness guide on windows stuff, i love learning more about the windows stuff. All the mentioned tips for search are informative. I’m gonna save it now.

    thanks

  2. says

    Hi Jignesh,

    This is pretty nice tips to quickly search for the files. It is very helpful when the hard dish of the computer is full of thousands of files. It become troublesome to look for a particular file out such a large no. of files of similar extension. This is going to help people.

    Thankyou for sharing such a nice tutorial.

    Suzi

  3. Cpkabra says

    Thanks a lot of Jignesh.
    it is really important thing and i am going to share this things to my colleague also.

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