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The search within Windows 10 is incredibly powerful, but you might not be using it to its full extent. We’re here to show you all the tips and tricks surrounding search, meaning you can hunt down what you need much more efficiently.
Whether it’s adjusting where Windows scans when you search, using handy parameters to limit your search, or just typing as few letters as possible, the advice herein will turn you into a searching wizard.
If you’ve got your own search tip to share, please be sure to let us know in the comments section below.
1. Search Using First Letters
If you’re searching for a program or file with a long name, you probably already know you don’t need to type it in its entirety. Once a match has been found, the result will be displayed. But you can take this one step further to reduce your keystrokes to the bare minimum.
To find something that is made up of multiple words, just type the first letter of each word and put a space between each letter. For example, Google Chrome can be found by typing g c, Windows Media Player can be found with w m p, and so on.
2. Add Search to the Taskbar
You can open the Start menu and type straight away to begin searching. However, you can also add a dedicated search icon or bar to your Taskbar. To do so, right click an empty space on the Taskbar, hover on Search and then select Show search icon or Show search box.
If you don’t see the ability to add the search box, it means your Taskbar isn’t tall enough to support it. To rectify this, right click an empty Taskbar space again and select Properties. In the new window, untick Use small taskbar buttons and then click OK.
3. Use Filters to Narrow Your Search
When searching in the Start menu or search box, you can use filters to quickly narrow down to the type of file that you’re seeking. You have many different filtering options. All you need to do is input the filter term, followed by a colon, directly before your search terms. The available filters are apps, settings, files, folders, photos, videos, music, and web.
For example, if you wanted to find a document about animals then you’d search files:animals. If you were more interested in websites on the topic then you’d search web:animals.
4. Quick Calculations
Sure, Windows has a built-in calculator, but did you know that you can use the search to perform some quick calculations? For this you’ll need to have searching the web enabled. Access the search, then go to Settings and turn Search online and include web results to On.
Now you can type calculations into the search bar and it’ll display the sum right there. Of course, it’s not suitable if you’re trying to do advanced mathematics, but it’s incredibly handy for speedy working out of simple calculations.
5. Customize Where Windows Searches
By default, Windows will have a number of locations that it will scan when you perform a search. If you want to include or exclude particular locations from search, that’s simple. First, do a system search for indexing options and select the relevant result. Here you will see all locations that are indexed, meaning those which are searched.
To change these, click Modify. You can then navigate through the folder trees and tick those locations you wish to search. For example, you may wish to include an external hard drive. Once done, click OK.
Back on the Indexing Options window, you can also include or exclude particular file types. For this, click Advanced and then switch to the File Types tab. Again, make your selections with a tick, then click OK.
Excluding large folder paths and limiting your file types may speed up the search function, but your mileage will depend on just how many items you’ve got indexed. Frankly, I’ve found Windows 10’s searching to be lightning fast.
6. Search Within File Explorer
You can also search from within File Explorer by using the search box that appears in the top right. You can navigate to This PC if you want to search your whole system, but you can search straight from whichever folder you like. Just input your search term and the results will display.
After searching, you’ll be able to make use of the Search tab on the ribbon. From here you can filter your results using the dropdowns like Date modified, Type, and Size. If you want to quickly filter in and out of indexed locations, use the Advanced options dropdown. You can use Save search to create a Smart Folder, which we cover in our guide to setting up Windows smart folders.
To filter your searches within the search box itself, you’ll need to use parameters. You can discover these in our Windows search tricks guide, but those most handy include type, modified, and size. Use these with a colon, followed by your search term. For example, type:music, modified:last year and size:large.
7. Use Third-party Applications
If Windows 10’s built-in search just isn’t cutting the mustard, you might want to explore third-party applications. Many of the countless alternatives are free. We’ve rounded up the best in the past, so check out our awesome alternatives to Windows search. Alternatively, see those search programs we recommend judged on speed.
If you’re after some instant recommendations, Everything is a good choice due to how simple and lightweight it is. If you need something a bit more advanced, like one that will search the contents of your files rather than just the metadata, then check out Agent Ransack. This program will look inside your files, find the search term, and tell you where it appears within the file.
Search and Conquer
It’d be remiss not to mention Cortana, the personal assistant within Windows 10. If you really want to limit how much you type to perform a search, you can ask Cortana to find stuff for you using your voice! Be sure to discover which apps support Cortana to get the ultimate use out of it.
Armed with all these tips, now you can go forth and conquer all your searches. Whether you adjust your indexing options, make use of parameters, or just use a third-party program, you’ll be able to find what you need in a bang.
What tips can you share to help us all perform better searches? Do you think Windows 10 is missing any vital search features?