How to Locate Large Files on a Hard Drive Using Windows 7

If the capacity of your hard drive is running low, it is time to clean off some files. A good place to start is by locating the largest files on your hard drive. If you’ve never done this type of search and disk capacity is running low, now is the time.

Follow these steps to find gigantic files lumbering on your Windows 7 PC:

  1. Press Win+F to bring forth the Windows Search window.

  2. Click the mouse in the Search text box in the upper-right corner of the window.

  3. Type size:gigantic.

    Do not follow gigantic with a period.

    The window populates with files larger than 128MB, which is where Microsoft believes the threshold of gigantic to begin.

    To see a wider array of files, type size:huge to see files between 16MB and 128MB; type size:Large to see files in the 1-to-16MB range.

  4. Sort the list by right-clicking in the window and choosing Sort By—>Size.

  5. If the file list is sorted from smallest to largest, right-click in the window again and choose Sort By—>Descending.

  6. Examine the search results to find hefty files ready for deletion.

    Start with downloads that are larger than 1GB. Rather than have them consume a major chunk of storage space, archive them and then delete them from your PC’s hard drive.

  7. Close the Search Results window when your reign of destruction is at an end.

The term archiving in this context means moving a file from the main hard drive to another hard drive, optical disc, or media card. You still want the file but don’t necessarily need to have it handy.

  • View the Search Results window in Details view by choosing Details from the Views toolbar button.

  • If you delete the file, it moves to the Recycle Bin. You don’t see space savings until you empty the Recycle Bin.

  • To move a file, you cut (Ctrl+X ) it from its current folder and paste it (Ctrl+V) where you want to move it.

  • You may find some compressed folders when perusing the list. Be careful! You want to confirm the compressed folder’s contents before you whisk it off into oblivion.

  • If you’re using the Windows Media Center to record live TV, peruse the list of recordings for any that can be deleted. Recorded TV takes up a lot of disk space.

  • Music files can be removed from the Windows Media Player by right-clicking the music file’s icon and choosing Delete from the pop-up menu.

  • You can hone the search for large files by specifying specific file types. For example, specify the filename *.wmf to look for all Windows Media Files (videos) on the hard drive. You can search for a number of large file types.

Filename Extensions for Large Files
Filename Wildcard File Type Description
*.AVI Audio Video Interleave QuickTime or Real Player media format
*.BMP Bitmap Graphics Windows Paint document, also used by Windows for wallpaper
*.EXE Executable A program file (don’t delete — uninstall!)
*.MOV Quicktime Movie Apple QuickTime movie format; video files
*.MP3 MPEG Audio Music or sound file
*.PDF Portable Document Format Adobe Acrobat document
*.WAV Windows Sound Music or sound file
*.WMA Windows Media Audio Windows Media Player sound file
*.WMF Windows Media File Windows Media Player media format; videos
*.WMV Windows Media Video Windows Media Player video file
*.ZIP Compressed Folder Zip file archive (delete carefully!)
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