The use of the search function in Windows 10 File Explorer

Learn how to adjust your searches from Explorer to refine or expand the results.

In Windows 10 you can search for files and other content using the built-in search function on the taskbar. But you can also search for files directly via Explorer. With the update of Windows 10 November 2019, Microsoft has integrated Windows Search into Explorer. This means that you can click on a keyword or type in the search field and File Explorer will suggest files based on your search term. But even without this latest improvement, searching in File Explorer is more than at first glance. Let’s see how we can use the File Explorer Search tool.

SEE: 20 pro tips to make Windows 10 work the way you want (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

First, to take advantage of the integration of Windows Search with File Explorer, you must ensure that you have upgraded to the Windows 10 November 2019 Update version 1909. However, please note that this update contains a bug that affects the search field sometimes in Explorer does not respond when you click it. The Microsoft support document Troubleshooting Windows Search provides some solutions to the problem. You also want to check for the latest updates after Windows 10 version 1909 to see if Microsoft has corrected the error.

Open Explorer for a specific folder that you want to search for. Click in the Search field. If the functionality works, you should see a list of items from previous searches. Type one or two characters and the items from previous searches meet your criteria (Figure A).

Figure A

Press Enter to see all search results in the window. Click on the correct search result to view the corresponding document or another file (Figure B).

Figure B

With the search ribbon in Explorer you can take advantage of various commands, options and criteria to refine your searches. Click the icon for this PC to extend the location of the search to your entire computer. Click the Current Folder icon to limit the location to only the current folder and not subfolders. Click the All Subfolders icon to include the current folder and all subfolders. And to search in other places, click on the search again icon and choose another folder (Figure C).

Figure C

To search by date, click the Date changed icon and select Today, Yesterday, This week, or another time frame. Click the Child icon and you can specify the type of file you are looking for, such as a document, image, video or program. Click the Size icon to limit the search to specific file sizes, such as Small (16 KB to 1 MB), Medium (1 MB to 128 MB) or Large (128 MB to 1 GB) (Figure D).

Figure D

Click on the icon for Other properties. Then click on one of the choices in the menu: type, name, folder path or tags. You can then enter a specific value in the Search field after the property name and colon. For example, if you select Type, you can enter the document or image as a specific type. If you select Folder Path, you can enter a specific path name. You can also add multiple properties to a single search query (Figure E).

Figure E

To access previous searches, click the Recent Searches icon and select the search that you want to perform again. Windows then indexes and looks at certain locations to speed up your searches, but you can change that. Click the Advanced Options icon. Click on the option to change indexed locations.

From the Indexing Options window you can add or remove locations in the index. Click Close when you are finished. Go back to Advanced options. Select or deselect one of the three non-indexed locations that you want to include or exclude from your search, in particular file content, system files or compressed (compressed) folders (Figure F).

Figure F

To save your current search criteria and options, click the icon to save the search. Type a name for the search or leave the default name. Keep the default location. Click Save (Figure G).

Figure G

Finally, to open the full folder for a specific file from the search results, click the file and then the icon to open File Location. When you have finished your search, click the icon to close the search.

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