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Advanced Searching in Windows 7

Most of the searches you'll need to perform in Windows 7 will be simple and straightforward. However, when you need to really drill down into the index to find a long lost file, consider using search filters to unleash the advanced search tools in Windows 7. You can use advanced search filters to modify a search so that the search engine takes into account specific file characteristics, which can help you isolate the most likely candidates.

Windows 7's Add a Search Filter options appear in a drop-down menu box immediately beneath the Search text box in a Windows Explorer window. The actual search filters you'll see listed vary depending on the type of drive, folder, or file that’s currently selected in the Explorer window. The filters can include any of the following:

  • Date Modified: Search for files based on the date they were last modified.

  • Date Taken: Searches for photos by the date they were snapped.

  • Date Created: Searches according to when the file was created. You can select the date (or a range of dates) from a mini-calendar that appears.

    You can also be less specific and choose: A Long Time Ago, Earlier This Year, Earlier This Month, Last Week, Earlier This Week, or Yesterday.

  • Size: Search for a specific file size by typing its KBs or MBs in the search text box. Or, you can search by various size ranges.

  • Kind: Search for files of a specific type as selected from the drop-down list that appears when you click the Kind option.

  • Type: Searches based on certain file types by extension, such as .pdf, .jpg, or .docx.

  • Name: Searches by filename. You can enter all or part of the filename in the search text box after the Name filter.

    When you don't know all of a filename, you can use the asterisk (*) to stand for one or more wildcard characters in the filename and a question mark (?) to stand for individual wildcard characters.

  • Length: Search for an audio or video file by its relative length. You can enter the exact length or select one of the Length options that appear in the drop-down list.

  • Tags: This filter lets you search for a file by the tags assigned to it. Enter one or more tags after the Tags filter in the Search text box.

  • Authors: Search for file by a particular author. Enter an author name after the Authors filter in the Search text box or select the name from the drop-down list that appears. (This filter is called Artists when searching audio files.)

You can chose one or more of the search filters when looking for a file, but keep in mind that all the conditions you specify with the Date Modified, Size, Kind, Type, Name, Tags, and Authors search filters are inclusive, which means that all their conditions must be met in order to be returned to your Search Results window.

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