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How To Search For Files in Windows 7

Updated on July 11, 2013

Summary of the Steps for searching in Windows 7

1. Open Windows Explorer By right Clicking on Start Button
2. Select Open Windows Explorer
3. In the Left Pane Click on computer, In right Pane Select the Drive to Search
4. Click in Search Box In The Top Right Hand Corner
5. Enter the file type to Search for Specific File types
Using wildcard/star which is *.txt - this looks for everything ending in .txt
6. You can also Search for a word in the file name
7. You can also use a Date or Size Filter

1. Open Windows Explorer By right Clicking on Start Button

2. Select Open Windows Explorer

3. In the Left Pane Click on computer, In right Pane Select the Drive to Search

4. Click in Search Box In The Top Right Hand Corner

NOTE

Like many other things in Windows you can tweak the settings, by restricting search to just files names (speeds it up considerably), by turning on or off Indexing (speeds search but may slow your computer)

Also if you can navigate to the Drive and then to the Folder in the Left pane it will dramatically speed your search. Ideally there should be some organisational structure to your files, e.g. By Year.

5. Enter the file type to Search for Specific File types

Using wildcard/star which is *.txt - this looks for everything ending in .txt

So

*.doc

this searches for Word documents

*.docx

this searches for Word documents under Word2007+

So then change this for the file type you are looking for example;-

*.xls

*.pub

*.mp3

6. Search for a word in the file name

You can also search using a word you already know is in the file name (useful for songs). For example if you know you made a document last month with the title marysbirthday.doc you can simply search for mary.


7. Use a Date or Size Filter

When you click on the Search box you will see a blue 'Date Modified' clicking on this restricts the search to the time period you select.


You can also add a size search using the size dropdown menu.

Saving the Search

You can save this search, to a folder somewhere you can find easily <g> and then run it again by simply double clicking on it. As long as you keep it on the same drive it will run fine.


The Search Results

When Windows returns your results the search term will be highlighted in both the File Name and the Folder Name, as you can see in the example below where I searched for mary and Windows highlights it in yellow when the search completes..

From a nerdy perspective this is quite interesting since it is random (to an extent) and returns slightly unexpected results.. old files you forgot you had !

A Search for the text string Mary

The Last Word

This method of searching may not be adequate for many users however if you do not have sufficient permissions you will be forced to use the inbuilt search.

For those who can choose and can add software to their machines Agent Ransack is an excellent alternative, it presents all the options in a nice clean interface, you can use the old traditional *.doc or whatever file type, you can search for a word in in a file and you can add filter like date and size all there without the tedium of the sequential Windows 7 search.

It amazes me that a group of software engineers could take something as fundamental as search and make a total mess of it to the extent that the only sensible solution is to use an external program.

How Bad in the Win7 Search

See results

Windows7 - Can't Search Won't Search Don't Search

The poll indicates users opinions on the quality of search in Windows 7 - whilst it is possible to search in Windows 7

  • it is not user friendly,
  • you have to remember the syntax
  • you have to drill down to try to narrow the search in some way.


Agent Ransack, is a free 'lite' version of FileLocator Pro

As an alternative I suggest using Agent Ransack, a free 'lite' version of FileLocator Pro. It is free for both personal and commercial use.

Agent Ransack

Comments

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    • Drax profile image
      Author

      des donnelly 5 years ago from NYC....

      @Dan...thanks, it is almost back to the command line and yes seriously ironic :-)

    • profile image

      Dan 6 years ago

      Thanks for making this. I really hate that they didn't make this with a GUI to give you these options. Instead you have to search the internet on how to do a search. Ironic huh?

    • Drax profile image
      Author

      des donnelly 6 years ago from NYC....

      @I'm American.. this Hub simply explains how to find something in Win7, it clearly states that Agent Ransack is far superior to the pathetic search function in Win7 :-)

    • profile image

      I'm American 6 years ago

      Drax, don't be such a douche. The old search IS better, plain and simple. That's coming from a corporate IT Manager in the business over 25 years.

    • profile image

      Unhappy Fellow 6 years ago

      easy? not everyone knows all the file names and types.

    • Drax profile image
      Author

      des donnelly 8 years ago from NYC....

      thanks dyesebel10 :-)

    • dyesebel10 profile image

      dyesebel10 8 years ago from USA

      nice hub.. thanks for the tips.

    • Drax profile image
      Author

      des donnelly 8 years ago from NYC....

      thanks for the comment Doc...

    • profile image

      docwifi 8 years ago

      excellent Drax. Undocumented and hard to find info here....Thanks..... ;)

    • Drax profile image
      Author

      des donnelly 8 years ago from NYC....

      Thanks for the comment SimeyC, without doubt it is probably the best Os Microsoft have produced, it is a shame that they did not retain the old Xp search as an option. In the longer term as you Tag your data and maybe become familiar (again) with boolean :-) search will become easier.

    • SimeyC profile image

      Simon Cook 8 years ago from NJ, USA

      You are right - it is easy! However, most people are used to the old way, so it becomes very daunting when things totally change - add to this the fact that the Explorer itself has changed, and while it is more intuitive, it does take a while to get used to!

      The problem is that most people don't like change - that's why many people still have XP - they like it, it works - so they don't change - it's a shame as Windows 7 (and Vista) are far better once you get used to them!

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