Refining File Searching Under Windows 7

As more of us start using Windows 7 you’ll need to get to grips with the various features built into it. One of the prominent features carried forward from Windows Vista is search.

The Humble Search Box

The Humble Search Box

Now, you’d think that you could find stuff by clicking in the box and typing the words of the file you are trying to locate and this does work. However, you might find that your search results are also populated with matches from inside documents, spreadsheets and e-mails. This “feature” cannot be disabled and can slow down your search if you’re just interested in searching by filename and not by file contents.

Anyway, there’s a way to refine your search to target filenames but it’s probably not the first thing that would come to mind.

Basically, you need to format your search as follows:

System.Filename:~=”<search term goes here>”

What this does is forces your search to target just the filename and ignore other attributes like contents or author for example. What is horrible though is that your regular user out there probably doesn’t  know about this requirement to get around the “feature” that searches everything by default nor is there a filter available to refine the search by filename from the user interface (while there is for file modification date and file size).

To be perfectly blunt for a moment, who even uses the tilde (“~”) symbol that much apart from coders and mathematicians? I reckon even these people would struggle to have worked that out without searching the help documentation.

Anyway, that’s how you can narrow down your search but there’s plenty of room for improvement on Microsoft’s part to make the search built into Windows more natural and less “programmy”.

2 pings

  1. […] under Microsoft, Operating Systems, Technology, Windows 7 by Boydo Not too long ago I wrote about how to use the search capability in Windows 7 to find files with certain text in the filename. Today, I’m going to show you how to restrict […]

  2. […] I have covered the way to search for specific document types using Windows Search which ended up being rather unintuitive and complex for a regular user (and to be honest, I forgot […]

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