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Find a Missing File inside a Windows 8 Desktop Folder

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Windows 8 includes a Search box in every desktop folder's upper-right corner. That Search box limits your search to files within that particular folder. In comparison, the Start screen's Search pane probes the entire Windows 8 index, which includes a lot of information. But that's overkill when you're poking around inside a single desktop folder, looking for a missing file.

To find a missing file within a specific folder, click inside that folder's Search box and begin typing a word or short phrase from your missing file. As you type letters and words, Windows 8 begins filtering out files that are missing your sought-after word or phrase. It keeps narrowing down the candidates until the folder displays only a few files, including, hopefully, your runaway file.

When a folder's Search box locates too many possible matches, bring in some other helping hands: the headers above each column. (For best results, select the Details option in the View tab's Layout group, which lines up your filenames in one column.) The first column, Name, lists the name of each file; the adjacent columns list specific details about each file.

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See the column headers, such as Name, Date Modified, and Type, atop each column? Click any of those headers to sort your files by that term. Here's how to sort by some of the column headers in your Documents folder:

  • Name: Know the first letter of your file's name? Then click here to sort your files alphabetically. You can then pluck your file from the list. (Click Name again to reverse the sort order.)

  • Date Modified: When you remember the approximate date you last changed a document, click the Date Modified header. That places your newest files atop the list, making them easy to locate. (Clicking Date Modified again reverses the order, a handy way to weed out old files you may no longer need.)

  • Type: This header sorts files by their contents. All your photos group together, for example, as do all your Word documents. It's a handy way to find a few stray photos swimming in a sea of text files.

  • Size: Sorting here places your 45-page thesis on one end, with your grocery list on the other.

  • Authors: Microsoft Word and other programs tack your name onto your work. A click on this label alphabetically sorts the files by their creators' names.

  • Tags: Windows 8 often lets you assign tags to your documents and photos. Adding the tag "Moldy Cheese" to that pungent photo session lets you retrieve those pictures by either typing its tag or sorting a folder's files by their tags.

Whether you're viewing your files as thumbnails, icons, or filenames, the column headers always provide a handy way to sort your files quickly.

Folders usually display about five columns of details, but you can add more columns. In fact, you can sort files by their word count, song length, photo size, creation date, and dozens of other details. To see a list of available detail columns, right-click an existing label along a column's top.

When the drop-down menu appears, select More to see the Choose Details dialog box. Click to put check marks next to the new detail columns you'd like to see and then click OK.

Folders living outside your libraries aren't indexed. Searching through nonindexed files takes much longer than searching inside your libraries.

For more information about Windows 8 and its features, explore Windows 8 For Dummies, available online.


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