Searching in Windows: frequently asked questions

Here are answers to some common questions about searching for files, folders, and programs.

You can also try running a troubleshooter to diagnose and fix common problems with search and indexing.

To run a search and indexing troubleshooter

  1. Click this button:

    Picture of a Fix it button

    Fix this problem

  2. Click Run, and then follow the steps in the wizard.

Hiển thị tất cả

How do I perform a search?

There are several ways to perform a search. One way is to type in the search box at the top of any open window or in the search box on the Start menu. When you start typing, the search begins automatically.

You can also use the Search folder:

  • Open Search by pressing Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +F.

For more information about searching, see Find a file or folder.

How do I expand my search?

If you can't find a file, you can expand your search to include different locations. For example, if you're searching for a file in the Documents library, but you're not sure where the file is stored, you can search across all of your libraries or your entire computer. Here's how:

  1. Click the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then click Documents.
  2. In the search box at the top of the open window, start typing.

  3. 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 way you can search for files that aren't indexed, such as system or program files, but remember 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.

What is the search index and how can I change it?

Windows uses the index to perform very fast searches of the most common types of files on your computer. Instead of looking through your entire hard disk for a file name or property, Windows scans the index.

If you're searching in locations that aren't indexed, the search might be slow because Windows must inspect each file in those locations during the search. You can add those locations to the index to speed up future searches. For more information, see Improve Windows searches using the index: frequently asked questions.

To see the complete list of locations that are indexed, or to add locations to the index, open Indexing Options.

  • Open Indexing Options by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then clicking Control Panel. In the search box, type indexing options, and then click Indexing Options.

    The indexed locations are displayed in the Index these locations list.

Notes

  • When you include a folder in a library, it's automatically added to the index. For more information, see Include folders in a library.

  • For privacy reasons, only your own files are added to the index, and so by default, ‌Windows won't search files belonging to other users on your computer.

What does it mean when I see a message that search results might be slow?

It means that the location you're searching isn't indexed. Normally, you get search results quickly because the search includes only the locations on your computer that are indexed. If you change the locations that are being searched, or if you open a folder that's not in the index and search there, the search will take longer. Searches outside of the index only look for files by file name, but index searches also look for file contents and an assortment of file properties. If you frequently see this message when searching a specific location on your computer, you should add that location to the index. For more information, see Improve Windows searches using the index: frequently asked questions.

What does it mean when I see a message that search results might be incomplete?

It means that the files are still being indexed. To perform fast and accurate searches, Windows collects information about files on your computer. This information is stored in the index. Periodically, Windows needs to update the index. If you perform a search while the index is being updated, the results might be out of date.

What does it mean when I see a message that a location can't be searched or there's no media present in the search location?

There's a problem searching one or more of your selected locations. Usually that's because you've selected a network location or a device that's not currently connected to your computer. It's also possible that you've selected a removable media device with no media (such as a memory card or a CD) in the device. Check your locations, and then try the search again.