Marshall Adult Education




TECH TIP:  Search for Files and Folders

Did you ever save a file on your computer and you can’t seem to find it?  There are powerful ways to search for a file or a folder using the Windows search feature.

First, a bit of advice which you probably already know.  It is a good idea to save all data from all your applications in your “My Documents” folder.  When you need to use the Search feature to search for a data file, you can limit the search to just that folder – you will save tons of time.  It is quite time consuming to search your entire hard drive.

The search window looks differently in Windows XP than in earlier versions of Windows (95, 98, ME, 2000).  But the methods of searching are exactly the same.  (Also, Windows XP has a few more options than previous versions).

So here they are – some great search tips.

To start a search, click on the Start menu and click on Search

Search for all files and folders

  -  XP users need to click on “All Files and Folders.” 
-  95, 98, ME, 2000 users will see the box under “Search for files or folders named”

Type in the name of the file or folder you are looking for – OR type in any word that is in the name. 

     ●  Example:  Type in “lessons” and you will get every file or folder that has the word “lessons” in the name.

NOTE:  Limit your search to your “My Documents” folder by clicking on the down arrow under Look In and selecting My Documents

Click on Search Now and in seconds, you will have every file on your computer that has the word “lessons” in the filename

More Search Options

There is a section called “More Search Options.”  Here, you can search for files by Date (they were created), by Type (what program created it), by Size (you specify the size in KB) or you can specify other Advanced Options (case sensitive, search subfolders, etc.)

Search for files containing certain text.

If you have no idea what the name of the file is, you can search for files by typing in a word or phrase that is contained in the actual document.

     ●  Example:  I typed in Marshall ABE – I got 15 Word documents that contain that text within the document.

Note – these searches take a little longer because they are actually looking in each file for the specified text – it’s slower, but a great way to find that exact file you are looking for.

Using Wild Cards – The Asterisk
A wild card is a special character that takes the place of letters. The * (asterisk) is a wild card that takes the place of any number of letters.

     ●  Example:  You know a file starts with the letter H.  So type H* in the search box.  You will get every file or folder that starts with H.

Search for a particular type of file using a wildcard.
You can use a wild card and an extension to search for a particular type of file – a Word file, for example.

     ●  Example:  Type H*.doc to find every Word document that begins with
●  Example:  Type P*.jpg to find every picture that starts with P (a jpg is a picture file)

Using the ? Wild Card
You can use the question mark (?) as a wild card.  The ? takes the place of one character (letter or number or space bar)

     ●  Example:  Type ???.doc to find all Word files that 3 letters long

One last thing – you can choose to activate Indexing Service.  This feature works in the background indexing (organizing) your files in a way that allows for much faster searching,  The problem is that it will slow down your computer.  I suggest you not use it if you have an older (slower) computer, and use it if you have a newer computer (faster processor).  If you want to use this, just click on "Enable Indexing Service" to activate it.

Now you have no excuse when someone says to you, “Do you still have the file I sent you 3 years ago.”  Search for it!


Lyon County Government Center  •  607 W. Main St.  •  Marshall, MN 56258  •  (507) 537-7046

E-Mail:    Marshall Adult Education