Windows Desktop Search Tips, Tricks, Advanced Query Syntax for Windows 7, Vista, XP

One of the most used feature of Windows is its Search, It lets you locate your files, folders instantly. Windows Search also refers to the Instant Search, which now has become an integral part of Windows, particularly in the latest versions of the Windows.

Windows Desktop Search Tips

Well, if you want to be more efficient in locating your files and e-mails in Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista or Windows XP using Windows Search, then Advanced Query Syntax (AQS) can help you do just that. You can get the desired results using AQS, as it allows you to quickly define and narrow your searches.

To make your searches specific you can use variety of keywords, or search parameters, which can restrict your query to specific locations, specific file types or properties within those types, or specific “file kinds”. At the top of the Windows Search Explorer, File kinds are displayed, which you can access by pressing the Windows Logo + F.

Use double Quotation marks to match a specific string literally, so that it does not get interpreted as a Keyword. The words will be matched exactly in the order they are entered in a search query between quotation marks.

An overview of syntax in the tables below can be used with Windows Search 4.0 for Windows Vista and higher, or Windows Desktop Search 3.01 for Windows XP, including the properties that can be added to your search terms to narrow and refine your results.

Search Syntax

Property Example Function
author:name author:patrick Finds items with patrick in the Author property.
author:(name) author:(patrick hines) Finds items with patrick hines in the Author property.
author:(name OR name) author:(patrick OR bob) Finds items with patrick or bob in the Author property.
author:name name author:patrick bob Finds items with patrick in the Author property and bob anywhere in the document.
from:name from:patrick Finds items with patrick in either fromName OR fromAddress, since “from” is a property name for both fromName and fromAddress.
before:date before:10/9/2007 Finds items whose PrimaryDate field contains a date before 10/9/2007.
after:date after:10/9/2007 Finds items whose PrimaryDate field contains a date after 10/9/2007.
has:attachment report has:attachment Finds items containing the word report that have attachments. Same as hasattachment:true
is:attachment report is:attachment Finds items that have attachments containing the word report. Same as isattachment:true

Specifying Numbers and ranges

In order to specify a date range, enter the property followed by two dates. For instance, type from:Thomas sent:11/05/06..11/05/07. Windows Search identifies all Windows date formats and also recognizes the following values:

• Relative dates: Today, tomorrow, yesterday

• Multi-word relative dates: week, next month, last week, past month, or coming year. The values can also be entered contracted, as follows: thisweek, nextmonth, lastweek, pastmonth, comingyear.

• Days: Sunday, Monday … Saturday

• Months: January, February … December

Syntax Results
size:>50KB <70KB Searches for files with a value in the Size between50 KB and 70 KB, excluding the end values.
size:>=50KB <=70KB Searches for files with a value in the Size property between 50 KB and 70 KB, including the end values.
Size: 50KB..70KB Same as size:>=50KB <=70KB
date:>2/7/05<2/10/05 Searches for a date in the Date property between the values 2/7/05 and 2/10/05, excluding the end dates.
date:>=2/7/05<=2/10/05 Searches for a date in the Date property between the values 2/7/05 and 2/10/05, including the end dates.
date:2/7/05 .. 2/10/05 Same as date:>=2/7/05<=2/10/05

Common file properties

The preceding table contains a list of words that can be used with any of the following file properties. For example, to find e-mail from “patrick” that was sent in 2009, your query would look like this: kind:email author:patrick after:12/31/2008.

To restrict by file type Use Example
Communications communications kind:communications
Contacts contacts
person
kind:person
kind:contacts
E-mail email kind:email
Instant Messenger conversations im kind:im
Meetings meetings kind:meetings
Tasks tasks kind:tasks
Notes notes kind:notes
Documents docs kind:docs
Music music
song
kind:music
kind:song
Pictures pics
pictures
kind:pics
kind:pictures
Videos videos kind:videos
Folders folders kind:folders
Folder name foldername foldername:mydocs
Programs programs kind:programs
Recorded TV tv kind:tv
Link link kind:link
Journal entry journal kind:journal

To restrict by file store

You can use the store: indicator to narrow your search scope which will limit a query to either Microsoft Office Outlook or Outlook Express, in case if you have multiple accounts.

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Store Use Example
Files file store:file
Offline Files csc store:csc
Outlook mapi store:mapi
Outlook Express outlookexpress store:outlookexpress

Properties for file type: All

Property Use Example
Title title, subject, about title:manager
Status status status:active
Date date date:lastweek
Date modified datemodified, modified modified:lastweek
Importance importance, priority importance:high
Size size size:>50MB
Deleted deleted,isdeleted isdeleted:true
Is attachment isattachment isattachment:false
To to, toname to:johnsmith

Properties for file type: Contact

Property Use Example
Job title jobtitle jobtitle:manager
IM address imaddress imaddress:luis@adventure-works.com
Assistant’s phone assistantsphone assistantsphone:555-1212
Assistant name assistantname assistantname:roberto
Profession profession profession:accountant
Nickname nickname nickname:louis
Spouse spouse spouse:susana
Business city businesscity businesscity:redmond
Business postal code businesspostalcode businesspostalcode:98052
Business home page businesshomepage businesshomepage:www.adventure-works.com
Callback phone number callbacknumber callbacknumber:882-8080
Car phone carphone carphone:555-1212
Children children children:anna
First name firstname firstname:maria
Last name lastname lastname
Home fax homefax homefax:555-1212
Manager’s name manager manager:carlos
Pager pager pager:882-8080
Business phone businessphone businessphone:555-1212
Home phone homephone homephone:555-1212
Mobile phone mobilephone mobilephone:882-8080
Office officelocation officelocation:red/101
Anniversary anniversary anniversary:yesterday
Birthday birthday birthday:tomorrow

Properties for file type: Communications (e-mail, appointments)

Property Use Example
From from, organizer from:simon
Received received, sent sent:yesterday
Subject subject, title subject:budget
Has attachment hasattachment, hasattachments hasattachment:true
Attachments attachments, attachment attachment:presentation.ppt
Bcc bcc, bccname bcc:michael
Bcc address bccaddress, bcc bccaddress:mike@contoso.com
Cc address ccaddress, cc ccaddress:mike@contoso.com
Follow-up flag flagstatus
flagstatus:followup
flagstatus:unflagged
flagstatus:completed
To address toaddress, to toaddress:mike@contoso.com
Due date duedate, due due:10/15/2008
Read read, isread isread:false
Is completed iscompleted iscompleted:true
Incomplete incomplete incomplete:true
Has flag hasflag, isflagged hasflag:false
Duration duration duration:>120

Properties for file type: Calendar

Property Use Example
Recurring isrecurring
recurring
isrecurring:true
recurring:true
Organizer organizer, by, from organizer:jonas
Location location location:calgary

Properties for file type: Documents

Property Use Example
Comments comments comments:excellent
Last saved by lastsavedby lastsavedby:josh
Document manager documentmanager documentmanager:jonas
Revision number revisionnumber revisionnumber:4a
Date last printed datelastprinted datelastprinted:yesterday
Slide count slides slides:>20

Properties for file type: Music

Property Use Example
Bit rate bitrate bitrate:>150kbps
Artist artist, by artist:U2
Year year year:1977..1987
Album album album:”greatest hits”
Genre genre genre:rock
Lyrics lyrics lyrics:”happy birthday to you”
Track #, track track:12
Year year year:>1980<1990

Properties for file type: Picture

Property Use Example
Camera make cameramake cameramake:nikon
Camera model cameramodel cameramodel:eclipse
Dimensions dimensions dimensions:8×10
Orientation orientation orientation:landscape
Date taken taken
datetaken
taken:last
datetaken:6/12/2006
Width width width:33
Height height height:66
Flash mode flashmode flashmode:no flash

Properties for file type: Recorded TV

Property Use Example
Broadcast date broadcastdate broadcastdate:2005
Channel number channel channel:7
Closed captioning closedcaptioning closedcaptioning:true
Date released datereleased datereleased:2007
Episode name episodename episodename:zeppo

Properties for file type: Video

Property Use Example
Name name
subject
name:vacation
subject:hawaii
Ext Ext
filext
ext:wma
filext:wma

Sourced from: Microsoft.

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Nitin Agarwal is an MVP alumni and a Pro Blogger. He was awarded as Most Valuable Professional for 3 times by Microsoft in Windows Expert - Consumer category. He is immensely inspired by Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and APJ Abdul Kalam.