How to Locate Large Files Using Windows XP

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 large files on your hard drive. If you’ve never done this type of search and disk capacity is running low, now is the time. In Windows XP, heed these steps to go whale-size file watching:

  1. Press Win+F to bring up the Search Results window.

  2. Click the link on the left side of the window: All Files and Folders.

  3. From the Look In drop-down menu, choose My Documents.

  4. Click the chevron to expand the What Size Is It area.

  5. Choose Specify Size (in KB).

  6. Choose At Least.

  7. Type 5000 in the Size text box.

    You’re directing the Search command to scout out files larger than 5MB.

  8. Click the Search button.

    Windows looks through your stuff, trying to find files you created or collected that are larger than 5MB. The files are listed in the Search Results window.

    To sort the files from largest to smallest, click the Size heading.

  9. Peruse the list.

    If you don’t recognize the file, delete it. If you recognize it and don’t need it, delete it.

    To delete a file, select it and then press the Delete key.

    You can also archive the file by moving it from the hard drive to an external hard drive, burning it to an optical disc, or moving it to a media card.

  10. 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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