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Search - Find More with Filters and Operators


Kari

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Search - Find More with Filters and Operators
This tutorial will tell you basics in using Windows Search Filters and Operators and how to combine them to make finding what you are looking for easier in Windows 8.
Published by Kari
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How to Use Windows Search Filters and Operators to get better Search Results in Windows 8
Synopsis
This tutorial will tell you basics in using Windows Search Filters and Operators and how to combine them to make finding what you are looking for easier in Windows 8.
How to Use Windows Search Filters and Operators to get better Search Results in Windows 8

information   Information
Searching a file, a document or a picture among thousands of others can by a difficult task. Using myself and my photos as an example, my Pictures Library alone has over 24,000 pictures and images in over 700 folders:
Search_01.png
(Click screenshots to enlarge them)​

This as I said only the Pictures Library, not counted all those thousands and thousands of images already archived on Archive and Backup drives.

I am not a photographer, not even a keen photo snapper when on holidays or otherwise, yet I have these thousands of photos. What about you, maybe a hobby photographer with 15 years of active photo taking, all stored on a computer? Or an aspiring writer, hundreds of short stories and poems just waiting the day you will be discovered?

Have you ever noticed how difficult it can be to find that single photo of your trip to Alaska back in 2007, or that one short story you wrote in college? You know they are there, on your hard disk, but it seems impossible to find them. Or do you need to search similar files to store them together?

This tutorial will show you how to fine tune Windows 8 Search, search easier, how to combine different search filters and operators to find exactly what you are looking for.

Tip   Tip
If you are not familiar with Windows Search and Indexing, please check first this tutorial: Windows Search - Configure and Use - Windows 7 Support Forums



Part 1:
Search Filters


A search filter is an variable which tells Windows Search what to search. Together with a parameter it makes finding your stuff easier. Filter and parameter are separated with a colon :)).

A typical example of a Windows Search Filter / parameter combination is kind:image. The filter kind:
tells search we are looking for a certain kind of files, parameter image tells what kind that is.

Filters can be combined. A search kind:photo taken:2012 finds all images taken year 2012 (according to camera's date stamp on photo files).

To narrow your search even more just add filters. Search kind:photo taken:2012 name:Max would find all photos taken 2012 where the word Max appears anywhere in the filename. Notice that filters can be in any order, kind:photo taken:2012 name:Max is exactly the same search as name:Max taken:2012 kind:photo.

To use filters you simply write them on the search field on either File Explorer (Win + E) or Modern UI File Search (Win + F).

Searching photos from 2012 on File Explorer:
Explorer_File_Search_1.png
(Notice that the date of files show they fit our criteria, taken on 2012.)

The same search on Modern UI File Search:
ModernUI_File_Search_1.png

Note   Note
The main difference between File Explorer Search and Modern UI Search is where they search.
  • In File Explorer, the Windows Search searches the current selected folder or drive and all its subfolders. Examples:
    • File Explorer open on Computer > Search will search in all folders on all drives
    • File Explorer open on drive F: > Search will search in all folders on drive F:
    • File Explorer open on D:\PDF Files > Search will search in folder D:\PDF Files and all its subfolders
  • In Modern UI Search, the Windows Search searches only either your personal and public folders and libraries or Homegroup. You can toggle between Files and Homegroup searches by clicking the word Files (or Homegroup) on top left corner and selecting one or another. Examples:
    • Modern UI Search for Files > Search will search in all folders under C:\Users\Your_Username (default location), C:\Users\Public (default location) and in all subfolders of these two main folders plus on all Libraries
    • Modern UI Search for Homegroup > Search will search in all folders you and other Homegroup users have shared with Homegroup


You can find a list of most common parameters for filter Kind by clicking the Search tab on Ribbon and opening the Kind Drop Down menu:
Explorer_File_Search_2.png

Some useful filters:
  • Datetaken or Taken
    • kind:photo datetaken:11/04/2013 finds all photos taken on 11th of April 2013. Notice that the date format must be the same as is used by Windows, in my case I am using the Finnish date format DD/MM/YYYY. The value of parameter Datetaken is taken from the timestamp made by your camera
  • Datecreated or Created
    • kind:doc datecreated:11/04/2013 finds all documents created on 11th of April 2013. The date created is the date the file was saved first time, created on the drive
  • Datemodified or Modified
    • kind:video datemodified:11/04/2013 finds all videos modified on 11th of April 2013. The date created and date modified can be different; modification date is the date when the file was saved last time for instance after editing
  • Ext
    • ext:doc filename:Memo finds all files with extension .doc where the string Memo appears anywhere in the filename
  • Filename or Name
    • Filename:Kari finds all files where the string Kari appears anywhere in the filename
  • Author
    • ext:doc author:Max finds all documents authored by Max
  • Keywords
    • kind:music keywords:"Blues" finds all music tagged with word Blues. Notice that keyword (tag) must be in between quotation marks
  • Artist
    • kind:music artist:Beatles finds all music where the artist is Beatles




Part 2:
Fine tune your Search Filters


Let's use the filter name as an example. Actually it is filename but it can also be used shortened as name. The same applies to almost all filters:
  • taken or datetaken
  • modified or datemodified
  • created or datecreated
  • and so on
Searching name:memo returns all files where the string memo is included anywhere in the filename. It would find for example the following files:
  • memo.txt
  • Max Memo JAN-21-2012.doc
  • Holiday Memories from Alaska.png
Notice that Windows Search is not case sensitive by default. For Windows Search, Memo = mEMo = memo.

If you want to find only the files where the string memo is at the very beginning of the filename you need add a ~ (tilde) and a < (smaller than) in between the filter and the parameter.

Search name:~<memo would find:
  • memo.txt
  • Memo to IT dept.doc
  • MEMORIES.mp4
It would not find:
  • Max Memo JAN-21-2012.doc
  • Holiday Memories from Alaska.png
Adding an = (equal sign) Windows Search knows we are searching the exact match. Search name:=Memo.txt would only find files with the exact filename Memo.txt.

Some other filter - parameter separators and their explanations:
  • ~! = Does not contain
    • kind:image name:~!ex-wife would find all images except those where string ex-wife appears in the filename
  • < = Less than
    • kind:video size:<500MB would find all videos under 500 MB file size. The < sign can be replaced with before as for example in search kind:video created:before 2012 which would find all videos created year 2011 or earlier, before 2012
  • > = Greater than
    • kind:document created:>2011 would find all documents created 2012 or later (after 2011). Notice that > works here as and can be replaced with after. The same search can be written as kind:document created:after 2011




Part 3:
Operators

Windows Search recognizes logical operators AND, OR and NOT.
  • AND
    • Example:
      • kind:image name:Me AND name:Max
      • Finds all images where string Me and string Max appear in the filename, in any order. Leaves out files where only one of the strings appear in the filename
      • Included in results:
        • MEandMAX_Xmas_2012.png
        • MAXandME_June2011.jpg
      • Not included in results:
        • ME_Xmas_2012.png
        • MAX_in_Hawaii_2012.jpg
    • Example:
      • kind:image name:Me AND taken:August 2011
      • Finds all images taken in August 2011 where string Me appears in the filename
      • Included in results:
        • MEandMax.png (date taken 01-AUG-2011)
        • MAXandME.jpg (date taken 16-AUG-2011)
        • ME.png (date taken 31-AUG-2011)
  • OR
    • Example:
      • ext:doc name:ME OR name:MAX
      • Finds all documents (*.doc) where string Me or string Max appear in the filename, including files where both strings appear in the filename.
      • Included in results:
        • Letter_from_ME_to_MAX.doc
        • MAX_CV.doc
        • ME_myself_and_I.doc
  • NOT
    • Example:
      • ext:png taken:2012 NOT taken:July 2012
      • Finds all *.png images taken year 2012 except those taken on July 2012
      • Included in results:
        • All photos that are according to camera's date stamp taken between JAN-01-2012 and JUN-30-2012 and between AUG-01-2012 and DEC-31-2012
      • Not included in results:
        • Any photos taken between JUL-01-2012 and JUL-31-2012





Part 4:
Using Wildcards


Wildcards* and ? can be used to further widen the search although they are a bit tricky to use. The asterisk (*) substitutes for zero or more characters, the question mark (?) one or zero characters.

Examples:
  • Search ext:d* would find all files with an extension (any length) which starts with a letter d
    • Resume.doc
    • System.dll
    • ThisFile.dx
  • Search system.filename:K*i would find any files where the name of the file starts with a K, followed by any number of characters (also 0 characters) before a letter i
    • Kai.jpg
    • Kari_resume.doc
    • KnockOut_impossible.png
  • Search system.filename:K??i would find any files where the name of the file starts with a K, followed by two or less characters before a letter i
    • Kai.jpg
    • Kari_resume.doc
    • Kickstart.png
  • Search ext:mp? would find all files with an extension of two or three characters where two first characters are m and p
    • ThatSong.mp4
    • MyVideo.mpg
  • Search kind:image datetaken:200? would find all photos taken on any year where three first digits are 200 i.e. all photos taken from 2000 to 2009

Note   Note
With these tips you can make your Windows 8 Search work for you, to better find what you are looking for. Please keep posting your Search tips and tricks, I will update this tutorial always when needed :).

External link for more information: Advanced tips for searching in Windows



Kari

 
Last edited by a moderator:

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center
    Computer type
    Laptop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    HP ENVY 17-1150eg
    CPU
    1.6 GHz Intel Core i7-720QM Processor
    Memory
    6 GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5850 Graphics
    Sound Card
    Beats sound system with integrated subwoofer
    Monitor(s) Displays
    17" laptop display, 22" LED and 32" Full HD TV through HDMI
    Screen Resolution
    1600*900 (1), 1920*1080 (2&3)
    Hard Drives
    Internal: 2 x 500 GB SATA Hard Disk Drive 7200 rpm
    External: 2TB for backups, 3TB USB3 network drive for media
    Cooling
    As Envy runs a bit warm, I have it on a Cooler Master pad
    Keyboard
    Logitech diNovo Media Desktop Laser (bluetooth)
    Mouse
    Logitech MX1000 Laser (Bluetooth)
    Internet Speed
    50 MB VDSL
    Browser
    Maxthon 3.5.2., IE11
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender 4.3.9431.0
    Other Info
    Windows in English, additional user accounts in Finnish, German and Swedish.

Brink

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mvp
Posts
23,686
#2
Great job Kari. :)
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    64-bit Windows 10
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Custom self built
    CPU
    Intel i7-8700K OC'd to 5 GHz
    Motherboard
    ASUS ROG Maximus XI Formula Z390
    Memory
    16 GB (8GBx2) G.SKILL TridentZ DDR4 3200 MHz
    Graphics Card(s)
    ASUS ROG-STRIX-GTX1080TI-O11G-GAMING
    Sound Card
    Integrated Digital Audio (S/PDIF)
    Monitor(s) Displays
    3 x 27" Asus VE278Q
    Screen Resolution
    1920x1080
    Hard Drives
    250GB Samsung 960 EVO M.2,
    256GB OCZ Vector,
    6TB WD Black WD6001FZWX
    8TB WD MyCloudEX2Ultra NAS
    PSU
    OCZ Series Gold OCZZ1000M 1000W
    Case
    Thermaltake Core P3
    Cooling
    Corsair Hydro H115i
    Keyboard
    Logitech wireless K800
    Mouse
    Logitech MX Master
    Internet Speed
    1 Gb/s Download and 35 Mb/s Upload
    Browser
    Internet Explorer 11
    Antivirus
    Malwarebyte Anti-Malware Premium
    Other Info
    Logitech Z625 speaker system,
    Logitech BRIO 4K Pro webcam,
    HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M477fdn,
    Linksys EA9500 router,
    Arris SB8200 cable modem,
    APC SMART-UPS RT 1000 XL - SURT1000XLI,
    Lumia 1520 phone

theog

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#3
Nice one, Kari :dinesh:
 

My Computer

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    ME, XP,Vista,Win7,Win8,Win8.1
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    PC/Desktop
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    Notebooks x 3

    Desktops x 5

    Towers x 4

davidvkimball

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Posts
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#4
This is great! Thank you, Kari!
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    CPU
    Intel Core i7-4790K Haswell Quad-Core 4.0GHz LGA 1150
    Motherboard
    ASUS Z97-A LGA 1150 Intel Z97 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
    Memory
    CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3
    Graphics Card(s)
    ASUS GTX750TI-OC-2GD5 GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB 128-Bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 HDCP
    Sound Card
    NVIDIA High Definition Audio
    Monitor(s) Displays
    ASUS VG248QE Black 24" 144Hz 1ms (GTG) HDMI Widescreen LED Backlight LCD 3D and 20" 2009m HP Monitor
    Screen Resolution
    1920 x 1080 and 1600 x 900
    Hard Drives
    Intel 730 Series 2.5" 240GB SSD (OS + programs) WD Blue 1 TB HDD: 3.5 Inch, 7200 RPM (personal files)
    PSU
    Antec HCG M Series HCG-620M 620W ATX12V
    Case
    AZZA Solano 1000 Black Japanese SECC Steel/Metal mesh in front MicroATX/ATX/Full ATX
    Cooling
    Fans. Everywhere. (but they're surprisingly silent)
    Keyboard
    HP USB keyboard, 6 ft cable, Height: 1.1 inch, Width: 6.3 inches, Length: 17.3 inches
    Mouse
    HP USB mouse, 6 ft cable,
    Internet Speed
    36 Mbps download, 6 Mbps upload
    Browser
    Internet Explorer 11
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender + MalwareBytes

Kari

Old geek, new tricks
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#5
Thanks geeks!
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center
    Computer type
    Laptop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    HP ENVY 17-1150eg
    CPU
    1.6 GHz Intel Core i7-720QM Processor
    Memory
    6 GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5850 Graphics
    Sound Card
    Beats sound system with integrated subwoofer
    Monitor(s) Displays
    17" laptop display, 22" LED and 32" Full HD TV through HDMI
    Screen Resolution
    1600*900 (1), 1920*1080 (2&3)
    Hard Drives
    Internal: 2 x 500 GB SATA Hard Disk Drive 7200 rpm
    External: 2TB for backups, 3TB USB3 network drive for media
    Cooling
    As Envy runs a bit warm, I have it on a Cooler Master pad
    Keyboard
    Logitech diNovo Media Desktop Laser (bluetooth)
    Mouse
    Logitech MX1000 Laser (Bluetooth)
    Internet Speed
    50 MB VDSL
    Browser
    Maxthon 3.5.2., IE11
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender 4.3.9431.0
    Other Info
    Windows in English, additional user accounts in Finnish, German and Swedish.

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