Windows provides several ways to find files and folders. There isn't one best way to search—you can use different methods for different situations.

Use the search box on the Start menu

You can use the search box on the Start menu to find files, folders, programs, and e‑mail messages stored on your computer.

To find an item using the Start menu:

  • Click the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then type a word or part of a word in the search box.
    Picture of search results in the Start menu
    Search results appear as soon as you start typing in the search box.

    As you type, items that match your text will appear on the Start menu. The search results are based on text in the file name, text in the file, tags, and other file properties.

Note

  • When searching from the Start menu, only files that have been indexed will appear in search results. Most files on your computer are indexed automatically. For example, anything you include in a library is automatically indexed. For more information about the index, see Improve Windows searches using the index: frequently asked questions.

Use the search box in a folder or library

You're often likely to be looking for a file that you know is in a particular folder or library, such as Documents or Pictures. Browsing for the file might mean looking through hundreds of files and subfolders. To save time and effort, use the search box at the top of the open window.

Picture of the search box in a folder or library
The search box in a folder or library

The search box filters the current view based on text that you type. The search looks for text in the file name and contents; and in the file properties, such as in tags. In a library, the search includes all folders included in the library as well as subfolders within those folders.

To search for a file or folder by using the search box:

  • Type a word or part of a word in the search box.

    As you type, the contents of the folder or library are filtered to reflect each successive character you type. When you see the file that you want, stop typing.

For example, suppose your Documents library looks like this:

Picture of a library's contents before typing in the search box
Documents library before typing in the search box

Now, suppose that you're looking for your invoice files, so you type "invoice" in the search box. As you type, the view is automatically filtered and you see something like this:

Picture of a library's contents after typing "invoice" in the search box
Documents library after typing "invoice" in the search box

You can also use other techniques in the search box to quickly narrow down a search. For example, if you're searching for a file based on one or more if its properties (such as a tag or the date the file was last modified), you can use search filters to specify the property in your search. Or, you can type keywords in the search box to narrow down your results even further. To learn how to use search filters and keywords, see Advanced tips for searching in Windows.

Expand a search beyond a specific library or folder

If you can't find what you're looking for in a specific library or folder, you can expand the search to include different locations.

  1. Type a word in the search box.

  2. Scroll to the bottom of the list of search results. Under Search again in, do one of the following:

    • Click Libraries to search across every library.

    • Click Computer to search across your entire computer. This is the way to search for files that aren't indexed (such as system or program files). However, be aware that the search will be slower.

    • Click Custom to search specific locations.

    • Click Internet to search online, using your default web browser and your default search provider.



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