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Advanced Windows Search Filters and Query Operators

Windows 7 has a terrific built in Search feature. It’s fast, efficient and comes with a slew of features that satisfies both normal and geeky users alike.

In Windows, if you know the name of a file, you can quickly find it using the basic Search feature. In case you don’t, you can perform an advanced search with Search filters or Query Syntax. Advanced Query Syntax helps in defining a term to narrow the searches to get better results. In this post, I will show you how to use and take advantage of the advanced Search filters built in to the Windows Explorer.

Using Windows Desktop Search Filters

To access Windows Search, open Computer and click in the Search box on the top right corner of the window. To search in a specific folder, open it and click in its Search box.

You will see the Search filters at the bottom of the Search box. The filters that you see are based on the folder contents. For example, in the Pictures Library, you will a filter for Date Taken, which is not visible in any other folder.

Here the default filters are ‘Date Modified’ and ‘Size’. Using these you can filter results to show files created or modified on a specific date, or which are of a specific size. If you click on a filter, you will get a list of even more refined options.

Multiple filters can also be combined to thoroughly narrow down the search results. To do so, select one filter and then click the Search box again and select a second one. You can even type in the filter keyword directly.

Windows Search Filter List

Here are a few search filters that you can use to get precisely what you want:

Filter Explanation
store: Limit search to a specific folder location or data store. Ex.: store:desktop, store:outlook
kind: Limit search to a specific type.
Ex.: kind:docs, kind:text, kind:music, kind:folders, kind:email
name: Find a file by its name. Ex.: name:”All this time”
date: Search items based on dates.
Ex.: date:today, date:yesterday, date:this week, date:past month
datemodified: Search for file based on the modified date. Ex.: datemodified:05-05-2012
datetaken: Searches for photos captured on a particular date: Ex.: datetaken:05-05-2012
datecreated: Searches for a file created on a particular date. Ex.: datecreated:05-05-2012
deleted: Search for deleted files in Recyble bin. Ex.: deleted:document.txt
ext: Search for files of a specific extension. Ex.: ext:jpg, ext:mp3, ext:pdf
authors: Find files based on the username of the person who created it. Ex. authors:renji
artist: Find songs by its artist. Ex.: artist:OneRepublic
genre: Find songs by genre. Ex. genre:rock
album: Find a particular album. Ex.: album:”Waking Up”
year: Find songs by release year. Ex.: year:2012
track: Find song by its track number. Ex.: track:12
orientation: Find an image by its visual orientation. Ex.: orientation:landscape
height: Find image with a specific height. Ex. height:1600
width: Find image with a specific width. Ex. width:1600
tags: Find files based on the metadata tags.
size: Search for a file of a specific size or range of size. Ex. size:=1mb..16mbsize:large

Boolean Search filters

Another way to get precise search results is by using Boolean Search filters. With this you can combine your search keyword using simple logic.

Filter Explanation
AND Finds files that contain multiple words, even if those words are not right next to each other.
Ex. “apple” AND “mango”
NOT Find files that contain one word, but not the other. Ex. “apple” NOT “mango”
OR Find files that contain either of the words. Ex. “apple” OR “mango”
Quotes Find files that contain the exact phrase.Ex. “apple mango”
Parentheses Find files that contain both words in any order. Ex. “apple” “mango”
> Find files that are more than or later than a certain value. Ex. date: >05/05/12
< Find files that are less than or earlier than a certain value. size: <16 MB
* Using * (asterisk) can be handy when you don’t know the file name.
Ex. *.pdf.
This will give you all PDF files in a folder.
This lets you exclude items that begins with a word.
Just add – (dash) before the word you want to exclude. Ex. -letter

Save Search

Windows can save your search if you want to use it again in the future. To save a search, just click the Save Search command that appears in the Command Bar, or click on File in menu bar and choose Save search. Saved searches appear in the Favorites list in Navigation bar.

That’s all!

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