Find Files Fast

Use advanced search tools to get the most from Windows Explorer.


Studies have shown that knowledge workers spend more than 20 percent of their time searching for information. As the volume of data generated and stored increases, the problem is bound to get worse.

Luckily, Windows Explorer includes powerful tools that make it possible to find files quickly and easily. Instead of simply typing a few letters in the Windows Explorer search box, you can use the Advanced Query Syntax to hone in on a particular file.

Boolean Operators

Boolean operators offer an easy way to refine a search. Note that they should be typed in all caps.

Operator Example Result
AND cats AND dogs Finds files that contain both the words, even if they are not adjacent to one another.
OR cats OR dogs Finds files that contain either of the words.
NOT, – cats NOT dogs
cats -dogs
Finds files that contain the word “cats” but not the word “dogs.”
“” “cats and dogs” Finds the exact phrase.
() (cats dogs) Finds the words in any order.

Search Filters

New to Windows 7, search filters make it possible to find files based upon their properties. Simply click the magnifying glass icon in the search box and the available properties will appear. The properties vary depending upon where you are searching.

Search Location Available Properties
General search Date Modified, Size
Documents library Authors, Type, Date Modified, Size
Music library Album, Artists, Genre, Length
Pictures library Date Taken, Tags, Type
Videos library Length, Date Created, Type

Click on the property and Windows Explorer will suggest the available options. You can combine search filters and use search terms to further refine the search.


You can use special keywords to filter on a property that doesn’t appear when you click on the magnifying glass icon in the search box. Special keywords include:







Searches are constructed by typing a special keyword, sometimes followed by an operator, then a value. Operators include:

Operator Definition
= “is” or “matches exactly”
<> “is not”
~= “contains”
~! “doesn’t contain”
~< “begins with”
> “greater than” or “after”
< “less than” or “before”


Example Result
System.Filename:~=”cats” Finds a file with a name that contains the word “cats.”
System.Kind:=”picture” Finds a file that is a picture.
System.Author:~<”cats” Finds a file whose author begins with the word “cats.”
System.Size:>1MB Finds files whose size is greater than 1MB.
System.Datemodified:<2014 Finds files that were modified before January 1, 2014.