Mastering Windows 8 File Search

Mastering Windows 8 File Search

Windows 8 Search ToolsWindows 8 Search ToolsHere are techniques for mastering the 'Search Results' box in Windows 8 so you can find your files more easily.

This article deals with hunting for pictures, music files or office documents stored on your computer by using the Windows Explorer. Please note that Windows 8 supplies a separate dialog box to search for Windows 8 Apps.

Explorer Ribbon: Search Tools
Assuming you have launched the Windows Explorer, as soon as you click on 'Search Libraries' the Ribbon tab changes to highlight 'Search Tools'.

Windows 8 Library SearchWindows 8 Library Search

In this pair of screenshots we see the context sensitive tab on the Windows 8 Ribbon switch from 'Home' and 'Search Libraries' (above) to 'Search Tools' and 'Size:>10mb' (below).

Context Sensitive TabContext Sensitive Tab

You could use the mouse to click on the sub-menus, 'Kind', 'Size' or 'Date Modified' (see above). Alternatively, you could master the AQS syntax and type search commands in box to the right.

Windows 8 Advanced Query Syntax (AQS)

I have to confess that it was only after I had used Windows 7 for two years that Paul DeBrino directed me to these AQS aids for seeking files. It's not going to take me as long to use this query syntax in Windows 8!

Boolean Operators
The key to mastering these techniques is to type the operator in UPPER case. Windows Explorer's trawls through the contents of files and applies its logic to the words on either side of the Boolean operator, for example:

  • OR e.g. Article OR News.
  • AND e.g. Jackson AND Singer Also you could use parentheses (Jackson Singer).
  • NOT e.g. Books NOT Pictures. Alternatively: Books -Pictures
  • Also remember the old faithful * wildcard, especially if you trying to find a special character such as à.

If you still cannot get the precise search result you want then I suggest you try parallel techniques, such as the built-in finstr, or better still, PowerShell's Get-Content.

Guy Thomas is a computer consultant and writer with attitude and a great sense of humor.