How to Search in Windows Seven

(This was written in frustration at the lack of useful guide to making searches in Windows Seven. Some of the text is drawn from this Dummies page. Update: Also I’ve taken some stuff from this excellent article at Windows 7 News.) 

These search parameters help you narrow down what you’re looking for in Windows Seven’s Explorer (to jump to the search box in that program hit F3. From anywhere in Windows Seven hit Windows key (image ) + F) to open a new search window.

How to use filters

These filters can be used in conjunction with, or separate from, text search terms. If you just start typing a term, Windows will start looking for all files (and folders) that include that name in the file name, the folder name, the contents of the file and its metadata (tags and whatnot). Although the idea of searching as you type is a good one, it can be frustrating if you need to correct something you’ve written.


Type date: (or one of the options below) and, while it may take a little while, a drop down menu should appear that will allow you to specify the date of the file you’re looking for.


Date Modified: Search for files based on the date they were last modified.

Date Created: Searches according to when the file was created. You can select the date (or a range of dates) from a mini-calendar that appears.

You can also be less specific and choose: A Long Time Ago, Earlier This Year, Earlier This Month, Last Week, Earlier This Week, or Yesterday.

(See also Date taken below.)

Boolean terms’

You can also filter use some boolean terms like AND, OR and NOT, as well as wildcards:

suharto AND indonesia

suharto NOT indonesia

*harto NOT soeharto (any word ending with ‘harto’ except ‘soeharto’)

“pak harto”


Search for a specific file size by typing its KBs or MBs in the search text box. Or, you can search by various size ranges via the drop-down menu:



Search for files of a specific type as selected from the drop-down list that appears when you click the Kind option. What’s frustrating with this is that there’s only kind of Document file (i.e., you can’t use this filter to narrow it down to spreadsheets, say, or word documents. For that you need to use Type below.)



Searches based on certain file types by extension, such as .pdf, .jpg, or .docx. (Waiting for the computing filter to run on this one takes a while. I wouldn’t bother.)


I don’t know whether this is true or not, but the syntax needs to include an = after the colon, like this:



Leaving it out seems to include files of other types in the list:




Searches by filname. You can enter all or part of the filename in the search text box after the Name filter.

When you don’t know all of a filename, you can use the asterisk (*) to stand for one or more wildcard characters in the filename and a question mark (?) to stand for individual wildcard characters.


This filter lets you search for a file by the tags assigned to it. Enter one or more tags after the Tags filter in the Search text box. If you’re not sure of the tags just wait for the drop down box to appear (it should say something like computing filters… prior to that)



Search for file by a particular author. Enter an author name after the Authors filter in the Search text box or select the name from the drop-down list that appears. (This filter is called Artists when searching audio files. See below for looking for specific songs)



Filters specifically for multimedia files


Date taken: Searches for photos by the date they were snapped.

If you have added whatever folders you’re using for your photo (or video)  files to the Pictures (or Video)  Library, then it’s probably easier to look for a photo (or video) by first clicking on Library, and then clicking on the search box, now called Search Pictures (or Search Video).


You’ll notice that the drop down menu now includes search filters relevant to photos (or video):



Length: is another parameter you can use to search for an audio or video file by its relative length. You can enter the exact length or select one of the Length options that appear in the drop-down list.


If you have added whatever folder you’re using for your music files to the Music Library, then it’s probably easier to look for a song or artist by first clicking on Library, and then clicking on the search box (now called Search Music). You’ll notice that the drop down menu now includes search filters relevant to music:



Published by:

Jeremy Wagstaff

Jeremy Wagstaff is Chief Technology Correspondent, Asia, for Thomson Reuters. He has worked as a reporter, editor and columnist for Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, the Far Eastern Economic Review and the BBC. . He has lived and worked in Asia since 1987 and is currently based in Singapore.

Categories mediumTags , , , 3 Comments

3 thoughts on “How to Search in Windows Seven”

  1. I have Windows 7 Profiessional86 and my serch filters do not have “Date Created” as specified above. I use this feature contantly. how can I add it to my filter?

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