Getting the most from Windows Search — Part 2

Woody leonhard By Woody Leonhard

In my Sept. 22 Woody’s Windows column, I stepped you through the basics of searching in Windows 7 — in particular, Win7’s two undocumented search idiosyncrasies that can cause no end of confusion.

In Part 2, I give you the advanced course, including how to search in Win7 the way you used to in Windows XP, Windows 95, or (gulp!) even DOS.

Search for filenames, the new old-fashioned way

Here’s how most experienced Windows users get turned off by Windows 7’s search: they click the Win7 Start orb, type something into the Search box, and wait while Windows comes back with results — first in bushels, then in barrels, and finally an avalanche. “Whooooa!” (or something slightly less printable) they say, “I only wanted to find files with this text in the filename …. Windows 7 is useless; they’ve even included spam messages in here.”

Yes, I still hear from old-timers who cluck-cluck-cluck that even DOS did it better.

Typing text into the Windows 7 search box is a bit like sticking a straw into an open fire hydrant. As I recommended in Part 1, if you have any idea where the text you seek may be located, you’re far better off going to that location (with Windows Explorer, say, or Outlook, or Live Mail) and starting the search from that folder or one above it. Yes, Windows indexes spam messages — which is to say, mail in your Junk Mail folder — and it’ll bring up the junk if you give it enough time. Nothing you can do about it.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2011-10-06:

Woody Leonhard

About Woody Leonhard

Woody Leonhard is a Windows Secrets senior editor and a senior contributing editor at InfoWorld. His latest book, the comprehensive 1,080-page Windows 8 All-In-One For Dummies, delves into all the Win8 nooks and crannies. His many writings tell it like it is — whether Microsoft likes it or not.