Locate a Missing App, Program, Setting, or File in Windows 8 - dummies

Locate a Missing App, Program, Setting, or File in Windows 8

By Andy Rathbone

To help you find lost apps, wandering files, hidden settings, or even things like missing e-mail, Windows 8 offers an easily searchable index. To begin searching, fetch the Charms bar’s Search icon. You can do that any of three ways:

  • Mouse: Move the mouse pointer to the screen’s top- or bottom-right corner; when the Charms bar appears, click the Search icon.

  • Keyboard: Press Windows+Q to both summon the Charms bar and open the Charm bar’s Search pane.

  • Touchscreen: Slide your finger inward from the screen’s right edge; when the Charms bar appears, tap the Search icon.


All those methods summon the Windows 8 Search pane, so you can search your computer. To search for missing things, follow these steps:

  1. Click the category you’d like to search.

    Unlike Windows 7, Windows 8 doesn’t search your entire computer, subsequently listing every match. Instead, Windows 8 first makes you specify what category you want to search. Route your search to any one of the categories shown earlier by clicking its name:

    • Apps: The default choice in Windows 8; this choice searches for both Start screen apps and desktop programs. Should you begin typing letters directly onto the Start screen, Windows 8 quickly chooses this option automatically and begins listing matching apps and programs.

    • Settings: This lets you search through the zillions of settings in both the desktop’s Control Panel and the Start screen’s PC Settings pane. It’s a handy way to find settings dealing with only fonts, for example, keyboards, backups, or other technicalities.

    • Files: An oft-chosen option, choose this to locate a specific file on your computer’s hard drive.

    • A Particular App: Below the three main categories — Apps, Settings, and Files — the Search pane lists names of apps. To route a search to your mailbox, for example, choose the Mail app. The Mail app opens, and the Search pane continues to hug the screen’s right edge, waiting for you to type in your search.

  2. Type your search term into the white box.

    Type a word or phrase that appears somewhere inside your chosen category.

    As soon as you begin typing, the Start screen begins listing matches. With each letter you type, Windows 8 whittles down the list. After you type enough letters, your lost item floats alone to the top of the list.

    For example, searching for the first few word of Lester Young in the File category lists every mention of Lester Young on your PC.


    No matches? Then Windows didn’t find your lost item, unfortunately. Try searching for fewer words, or even portions of words.

  3. Click a match or press Enter after typing your word or phrase; and Windows shows all matching files, settings, or apps.

    Windows 8 lists detailed information about all the matching items. Click a match, and Windows brings it to the screen.


  4. Choose a matching item to open it, bringing it to the screen.

    Click a song, for example, and it begins playing. Click a Setting, and the Control Panel or PC Settings window appears, open to your setting’s contents. Click a letter, and it opens in your word processor.

    • The Windows 8 index includes every file in your Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos libraries, which makes storing your files in those folders more important than ever. (Windows 8 doesn’t let you search through private files stored in accounts of other people who may be using your PC.)

    • The index doesnt include files stored in other places, such as flash drives or external drives. To add those places to your index, add them to your libraries.

    • If you’re searching for a common word and Windows 8 turns up too many files, limit your search by typing a short phrase from your sought-after file: Shortly after the cat nibbled the bamboo, for example. The more words you type, the better your chances of pinpointing a particular file.

    • The search box ignores capital letters. It considers Bee and bee to be the same insect.

    • If Windows 8 finds more matches than it can stuff onto the screen, the entries will scroll off to the right. The preceding figure, for example, shows only the first few songs featuring Lester Young; to see the rest, scroll to the screen’s right.

    • Keyboard hounds can search only Files by pressing Windows+F; search for Settings by pressing Windows+W; and search through your Apps and programs by pressing Windows+Q.

    • Want to route your search to the entire Internet rather than your particular PC? Then choose Internet Explorer as your category in Step 1. The Search pane will route your search through Bing, Microsoft’s search engine.

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