Secrets behind searching files and folders in Windows
Windows Vista, the next generation operating system,
provides a set of enhanced features to its users. One
of them is the search option. This option came into
existence probably from Windows 95, went on to further
development in next higher versions. Before the release
of Windows 95, users had to use command DIR etc to find
files and folders. Today, in the age of advanced technology,
the search option has become simpler.
Vista with 3 levels of search capabilities
Windows Vista offers a great level of search capabilities
to its users. This includes three methods of searching.
The three methods of searching are,
- Through search box,
- Through file list headings,
- Through search folder,
Through search box
One can use the search box to locate files and folders
if it is in the common folders such as Documents, Pictures,
and Music. It filters current view based on the words
that one types in. For example, if one has created the
file called “London Trip”, and types “L”
then “o” etc. in the search box, other files
which does not follow the pattern will start to disappear
and the required file will be displayed. Thus, one can
find files faster by typing in the search box given
in the folder window.
Through file list headings
The second method to locate files and folders is by
clicking the headings that appear above the file list
in the required folder.
Through search folder
The third method of identifying the files and folders
is through search folder. It is used when one wants
to build a search with multiple filters or when one
is looking for several files from different multiple
folders at once. One can save the search made, and can
use it in the future to find the same set of files with
a single click. This is the method which was present
in the previous versions of Windows.
In the search box, one can use several properties which
are associated with files in the searching process.
File Name: One can type the
name of the file in the search box to filter out files
and get only the particular file identified by the typed
filename. For example, if one needs to get the file
with file name “November Edition PC-Quest.txt”
then one can type “Nove” or “Edit”
or “PC” in the search box to get the desired
Extension: One can also type
extensions, which identifies the file type. For understanding
the concept behind extensions, one needs to go back
to MS-DOS age. MS-DOS, even Windows has got extensions
to identify file type. In the age of Graphical User
Environment, the type of the file is externally represented
by the icons, which are provided by their respective
programs. For example, the most popular MP3 files are
identified by mp3 extension. File names are separated
from extensions by Dot. If one needs to list only MP3
files, then they can do so by typing “*.mp3”.
Common extensions are, DOC (MS-Word document), XLS (Excel
spreadsheet), and TXT (Text file) etc.
Kind of File: In Windows
Vista, one is able to search files based on a board
description of the content. The files usually fall into
three categories, that is, music, document, and picture.
For example, if one wants to find files of excel spreadsheet,
word document, power point presentation, etc. they can
do so by typing just “Document” in the search
Tags: Tags are the words
which are used to describe files. One can search for
files using the tags, by providing words that are added
as a tag to the file, to the search box.
Author: One is able search
the file based on authors who originally created it.
One need to type the name of the author in the search
box to find files which belongs to that author.
Modified: One is able to
search for file names which are modified during certain
Size: One is able to filter
filenames based on size of the file. Using “>
< =” Boolean expression one is able to specify
required size of file for the search. For Example, “Size:
<5 MB” will give files with sizes less than
Windows Vista will search for typed words in search
box by looking in File names, File content, and many
properties of files. If one needs to perform the search
selectively, then they can refine their search by specifying
which property to search. To use a property, separate
the property name and the word to be searched in the
property by colon. Example, “Tag:Moon” for
tag property, “Name:Summer” for filename
Boolean expressions to perform precise search
One can also use Boolean expressions to perform precise
search. The Boolean expressions are AND, NOT, OR, “
(Quote), () (Parenthesis), >, <.
Natural language search option
There is a disadvantage in using filters. The disadvantage
is that it requires one to specify the conditions in
a structured way. It does not allow one to specify search
conditions, naturally. To overcome this problem, Windows
Vista provides natural language search option. In this,
one can specify search conditions in a natural way.
One needs to turn ON this option before making use of
it. For Example, you can rewrite Boolean search condition
“kind: document author: (John AND David)”
using natural language search as, “documents by
John and David”. This will search documents authored
by John and David in most natural way.
How to Turn ON natural language option
To turn ON the natural language option, one needs to
do the following steps.
- Click Start, and open Control Panel Window by clicking
the control Panel option available in the start menu.
- Select “Appearance and Personalization”
and then select “Folder options”.
- Go to the “Search” Tab in the folder
- Mark the check box with caption “Use natural
One can continue searching using Boolean filters, also
when the natural language search has been turned on.
One can also use all properties for fine tune the searches.
Examples of natural
language searching are,
Documents modified last year
Music rated ***
Pictures of phone taken August 2006.
Filter, stack or group
As said above, in the second method one can change
file and folder views by clicking the headings which
appears above the file list in a particular folder.
Viewing the files in this way can help one to find files
which share something common.
In this method, one can filter, get stack and grouped
views based on certain conditions. To filter a file,
open the folder which contains the file. Click the arrow
to the right of the heading that one want to filter
by. Select the property which one want to set the filter
by. When one stacks files, all the files are arranged
in to stacks or piles. If one opt for stack by Author,
then it is easy to locate the set of files developed
by a particular author, from which one can select the
required file from the stack. To stack files, first
open the folder and then click on the header arrow and
click “stack by” to arrange the folder contents
in to stacks which correspond to the particular header.
The Group by option lets one to display the files which
fall under same group. One will see files arranged in
groups when this option is selected. For example, a
folder containing mp3 and jpg files will be arranged
Build a search with multiple filters
The third search method is the search folder. As said
above, this method is used, when one wants to build
a search with multiple filters or when one is looking
for several files from different multiple folders at
once. It is a good choice for findings whenever one
don’t know where the file or folder is located
or want to look in many different locations. This method
of search gives one, search results to include files
from several folders at once. The method of search is
for those who want to create an advanced search which
looks for files using several different conditions.
One can customize the search by clicking Advanced Search
button in the search folder. Here one can perform search
Location: The search will
look by default for files in the indexed locations.
These locations include all files, folders contained
in the personal folder, email and offline files. One
can add additional locations to indexed locations if
one stores files at different locations. This makes
Date: One can search files
created, modified on certain date.
Size: Using this, one can
look for files larger or smaller than the specified
Property: Using this, one
can use any of the file properties to filter out the
files which do not meet what one specifies.
The three methods of search in Windows Vista will enable
one to get what one desires relatively easily than in
previous versions of Windows. The search will be performed
faster, and precisely mainly due to the ability to search
using different file properties. One can use Natural
Language in specifying search conditions. Use of natural
language enables one, who is a beginner, to easily specify
his required conditions and perform the search operations.
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