Sys. Admin

Windows Search Syntax

Written by Vojkan
windows-xp-file-search

Good old Windows XP search interface

Search for files and folders in MS Windows search using Windows Explorer (File Explorer in Windows 8 and later) was very simple and yet powerful in Windwos XP. Then you could use text boxs and datepickers to seach for files in intiutive way.

From Windows Vista user search interface became very limited and now you have to know Search Syntax (official name: Advanced Query Syntax) in order to use advanced search options.

In order to start Windows Search you have to start Windows explorer and then press F while holding Ctrl button. Alternately, you can also click search box in upper right corner of  Windows explorer.

windows 7 search interface

Windows 7 Search Interface

Search by name

Find all files…

Description Syntax Example
containing a keyword *value* *chicago*
starting with a keyword value* chicago*
ending with a keyword *value *chicago
… omit files with without a keyword in a file name -value -chicago
… with exact phrase in a file name “value “ “chicago photos”

 

Search by file size

Find all files…

Description Syntax Example
… bigger than size:>value size:>1gb
… smaller than size:<value size:>1mb
… with size equal to size: value size: 1 kb
… with sizes between these values size: >=value <=value size: >=1kb <=109mb

 

Search by file type

Search by file type can be done in numerous ways.

Find all files…

Description Syntax Example
… with extension ending in *.value *.txt
… with file kind kind: picture kind: picture
… with file kind and file name kind: picture value kind: picture chicago
… with file kind kind: image kind: image
… with file kind and file name kind: image value kind: image chicago
… with file extension ext:.value ext:.doc

Following terms can be used with kind operator: everything, communications, contacts, email, im, meetings, tasks, notes, docs, text, spreadsheets, presentations, music, pics, videos, folders, favorites, programs

Search by date

For all files …

Description Syntax Example
… modified on datemodified:‎DD.MM.YYYY datemodified:‎2.‎12.‎2016
… created on datecreated:‎DD.MM.YYYY datecreated:‎2.‎12.‎2016
… accessed on dateaccessed:‎DD.MM.YYYY dateaccessed:‎2.‎12.‎2016
… modified between datemodified:‎<DD.MM.YYYY >DD.MM.YYYY datemodified:‎<2.‎2.‎2016 >01.01.2015

For search by date you can also use:

Relative to: Syntax Example Result
Day date:today

date:tomorrow

date:yesterday

Finds items with today’s date.

Finds items with tomorrow’s date.

Finds items with yesterday’s date.

Week/Month/year date:this week

date:last week

date:next month

date:past month

date:coming year

Finds items with a date falling within the current week.

Finds items with a date falling within the previous week.

Finds items with a date falling within the upcoming week.

Finds items with a date falling within the previous month.

Finds items with a date falling within the upcoming year.

Combinations

Find all files…

Description Syntax Example
… with exact phrase in a file name + with file kind +
with sizes smaller than
“value” kind: image size:<100kb chicago photos kind: image size:<100kb
containing keyword in a file name + with file extension +

with sizes between these values

*value* ext:.value
size: >=value <=value mb
*chicago* ext:.jpg size: >10 kb <209 kb
… within multiple file extensions with sizes between these values *value* ext:.value OR ext:.value

size: >=value <=value mb

ext:.jpg OR ext:.png size: >10 kb <209 kb
… within multiple file extensions with sizes between these values + modified between these dates

*value* ext:.value OR ext:.value

size: >=value <=value mb datemodified:‎<DD.MM.YYYY >DD.MM.YYYY

ext:.jpg OR ext:.png size: >10 kb <209 kb datemodified:‎<2.11.‎2016 >01.01.2015

Search for folders only

Description Syntax Example
… with file extension type:=”File Folder” name:value type:=”File Folder” name:search

 

Boolean Operators

Search keywords and file properties can be combined to broaden or narrow a search with operators. The following table explains common operators used in a search query.

Keyword/Symbol Examples Function
NOT social NOT security Finds items that contain social, but not security.
social –security Finds items that contain social, but not security.
OR social OR security Finds items that contain social or security.
Quotation marks “social security” Finds items that contain the exact phrase social security.
Parentheses (social security) Finds items that contain social and security in any order.
> date:>11/05/04 size:>500 Finds items with a date after 11/05/04. Finds items with a size greater than 500 bytes.
< date:<11/05/04 size:<500 Finds items with a date before 11/05/04. Finds items with a size less than 500 bytes.
.. date:11/05/04..11/10/04 Finds items with a date beginning on 11/05/04 and ending on 11/10/04.

 

It’s important to note that Windows Search does not differentiate between letter case.

NOT/- : Both “not” as well as prefixing a dash will tell your search to exclude items that include the following term.

AND/+ : Both “and” as well as prefixing a plus sign will force your search to only include items that match for both terms.

For more information you can also take a look at MSDN Library article about Advanced Query Syntax.

About the author

Vojkan

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