How to Locate Large Files Using Windows Vista

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. Obey these steps in Windows Vista to find some whale-size files:

  1. Press Win+F to summon a Search Results window.

  2. Click the Advanced Search button.

  3. From the Location button, choose Indexed Locations if it’s not already chosen.

  4. From the Size KB button menu, choose Is Greater Than.

  5. Type 5000 in the Add a File Size text box.

    You’re looking for files larger than 5MB.

  6. Click the Search button.

  7. Ensure that Details is chosen from the Views toolbar button menu.

  8. Right-click any column heading in the list of found files.

  9. From the shortcut menu, choose Size.

    You’re adding the Size column to the list of details.

  10. Locate the Size column and drag it to the right, just after the Date Modified column.

    Refer to Video 621 for details on how to work the preceding four steps in this list.

  11. Click the Size heading until the list of files is sorted from largest to smallest.

    It may take two clicks to do it.

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  12. Peruse the list.

    If you see a file you downloaded or created ages ago — something you needed once but no longer — delete or archive it.

  13. Close the Search Results window when you’re done.

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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