If in the early days of computing, finding a file on a computer was a real headache (we could only search manually), today, computers and operating systems are already at such a level of evolution that they even allow you to find documents by searching for related terms, such as where a photo was taken, or a word that is in a text. This is where the latest Windows search tools come in, which will allow us to find files faster and organize the disk in the way that is most convenient for us.
1 – Add folders to classic Windows search
By default, to have an operating system running smoothly and as smoothly as possible, Windows is set to find files with the classic search, which only indexes the Desktop and the libraries (Documents, Photos, Videos, etc.). ).
You can add other directories (or remove the default ones) in the ‘Settings’ menu (Windows + I). Here, click on ‘Search’> ‘Search on Windows’ in the sidebar. Click on the ‘Customize search locations here’ link in the ‘Classic’ area, followed by ‘Modify’; then, click on the ‘>’ symbol next to the disk where you have the folder you want to add / remove – check the box for the respective option.
As soon as you add a folder, Windows will start to compile the content. The time this takes depends on the number and size of the files, but if you spend a little while noticing that Windows is not finding these documents, in a search, you can force a manual reconstruction. To do this, go back to the window where you clicked ‘Modify’, but this time click on ‘Advanced’, followed by the ‘Rebuild’ button.
2 – Switch to Windows advanced search
To get the most out of Windows search tools, turn on advanced search: in the ‘Settings’, click on ‘Search’> ‘Search on Windows’ and turn on the ‘Enhanced’ option. According to the warning written under this option, this can affect the autonomy of the computer, if you are using a laptop, and even slow everything down, due to the effort that the operating system has to make behind the scenes to make everything work.
Whenever you edit or create a file, the indexer will be updated to take account of these changes. Furthermore, with this, Windows will index the entire disk and not just the libraries and the Desktop. Here, pay attention to one thing: if you are doing this on a laptop, plug it in, otherwise Windows will postpone the re-indexing of the disk, as it is only running on the battery.
There are several folders that Windows will not index, even with the enhanced search active, since their contents are not relevant for home users – this includes hidden folders and administrator ones, for example.
However, if you want the contents of a particular folder or directory not to enter the results of an improved search, go back to the ‘Search on Windows’ menu and click on ‘Add an excluded folder’; then, in the window that appears, find the folder you want to “remove” and click on ‘Select folder’; to reverse this decision, select the folder and click on ‘Remove deleted folder’.
3 – Choose what to index: names or contents
As we recalled, one of the most important changes in Windows search tools was the ability to index a file, not only taking into account the name or extension, but also based on the content. As this consumes more system resources, it is important to confirm what type of files Windows is indexing and how.
We are still in the ‘Search on Windows’ window, but this time we scroll down until we find the option ‘More Search Indexer Settings’; here, click on ‘Advanced Search Indexer Settings’ to bring up the ‘Indexing Options’ window again, which we used to add folders to the classic search. Click on ‘Advanced’ and enter the ‘File Types’ tab.
Scroll through the list with file extensions until you find the one you want to include / remove or modify – each extension in this list has a box that can be checked; if it is unchecked, it means that Windows will not index such files. By unchecking some of these boxes, you will be fine-tuning the way Windows advanced search works, so that the results are more in line with your preferences. In order for the results to include file contents corresponding to these extensions, you must turn on the option ‘Index Properties and File Content’.
It is not common, but there may be a file extension that does not appear in this list – you can add it manually in the ‘Add new extension to list’ box and click ‘Add’. Do this, especially if you use a lot of portable programs (those that can be launched directly from a pen, without having to be installed on the PC), since Windows may not recognize the type of file generated by them.
4 – Search for specific file types
Now that we’ve set up Windows search our way, we can use it to “browse” the computer more quickly. You can use the search bar on the taskbar or press the ‘Windows’ key and start typing. Whenever you search for something, Windows displays the result that seems most right at the top of the results list – apps will be the first to appear, if the term you type matches that name.
If you start seeing more results, you will end up with files whose contents are also close to what you were looking for. By clicking on the tabs at the top of the results list, you can isolate specific file types. Let’s imagine that you want to find a Word file that has a text about Windows Search. When typing windows search in the taskbar search (or after clicking on the ‘Windows’ key), a series of results appear – just click on the ‘Documents’ tab so that only files appear that can only be opened by other programs. If you click on the result, the file opens immediately with the respective application, but if you click on the arrow on the right, you can see information about where it was saved and when it was last changed.
In searches, you can also use shortcuts to show only one type of specific documents. For example, if you write a document: windows search, only those files will appear; to search the Internet, you don’t even need to open the browser, just type web: windows search – the results will be shown on Bing.