Secrets behind searching files and folders in Windows Vista

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,

  1. Through search box,
  2. Through file list headings,
  3. 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. They are,

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 file name.

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 box.

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 time period.

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 5 MB.

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 property.

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.

  1. Click Start, and open Control Panel Window by clicking the control Panel option available in the start menu.
  2. Select “Appearance and Personalization” and then select “Folder options”.
  3. Go to the “Search” Tab in the folder option.
  4. Mark the check box with caption “Use natural language search“.

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 as,

Ramu.mp3 Rama.Mp3

Photo1.jpg Photo2.jpg

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 by,

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 search faster.

Date: One can search files created, modified on certain date.

Size: Using this, one can look for files larger or smaller than the specified size.

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.

Check out more topics on windows from here,

Advantages and Disadvantages of Windows 7

16 Reasons Why Should You Select Windows Vista

Advantages and Disadavantages of Windows Vista

Advice on Upgrading to Windows Vista

All about Windows Vista Migration

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