Tips on how to Search in Windows 8

If you are already using Windows 8 you might be well aware of its highly styled and well-designed Metro screen. The start menu which earlier in Windows 7 displayed shortcut icons on your Windows Desktop has been replaced by a display of custom tiles on the Start Screen. The tiles, like earlier shortcut icons, in Windows 7, provide shortcuts and quick access to various applications but in a more novel way.

Also, there are many other hidden user interface elements. For instance, the Desktop view of the new operating system lets you access the Charm bar, which gives system-wide access to Devices, Search, Sharing, System Settings and Basic Actions. Just slide your mouse pointer to the right hand side top or bottom corner or use Windows+C hotkey combination to access it.

Windows 8 Search Tips

Once accessed, the bar displays current date, day and time along with the internet connection status and battery life indicator. You can even use Windows key + F to bring up Search immediately.

If you think this is all then you are mistaken. Microsoft has fine-tuned the search functionalities, just to offer its users a more easy and comfortable way for locating/finding applications, settings and files. And unlike in Windows 7, the results are displayed, not in explorer windows, but there itself.

In Windows 8, Search has been designed for efficiency and user convenience. To search for & launch apps, simply start typing from the Start Screen.

It is now also easy to search for something in one app and then, if you don’t find it, try again in another app. Switching from one App to another in the Search charm is now thus a big time saver.

So let us dive deeper into this topic of ‘Search’.

The App Search:

As the number of installed apps increases, it becomes difficult for us to browse through a large list and find a rarely used app. This is where the ‘Search’ feature proves handy. When you enter a query in the App search feature it lets you quickly filter the search results and display them with both, friendly as well as executable names.

Shortcut for finding apps: If you want to find an app using a shortcut just use the Windows + Q keyboard command. This will bring up the Search interface for Apps. You may even just press Win key and start typing to search in the Apps.

Open Charms Bar > More PC Settings > Users > Search. Here you can delete Search history and also select which apps you  want to be included or excluded in search.

The Settings Search

This search feature brings all the ‘Settings’ and ‘Control Panel’ items under one view. The feature makes sure that the search results are relevant to the keywords entered by you in the search field or at least matches the name of the Control Panel applet.

The File search

Needless to say, we save a lot of video/music files, photos and documents to our Windows Desktop and over time it only grows. So having a search feature at hand that achieves the task of quickly finding a file becomes essential. Windows 8 search feature promises to offer this. The file search feature displays results relevant to your query.

You can view details of a file such as its location on the hard disk and the time it was created along with the size. When you find the file you want, just click it to launch the application. That’s it.

Apart from this, In File search, you’ll also notice search suggestions provided by Windows 8 to help you quickly and efficiently complete the search. Shortcut: Hold down the Windows key and F key to hunt down desired files.

How to search in Windows 8:

  • Press Winkey from Start Screen (or WinKey+Q from anywhere) and start typing immediately to search for Apps.
  • Press Win+F and start typing immediately, to search for Files.
  • Press Win+W and start typing immediately, to search in Settings, Metro settings and Control Panel.

With this approach users can focus on a particular search task like launching an app, searching for a video, or searching the web without results from other apps getting in the way or degrading search performance. Once you master this way of searching, you will find that Windows 8 delivers a more powerful and consistent search experience.

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.


  1. WaynesCellphoneDiary1

    somehow those dark screens above remind me of the Nokia Lumias ..hmmmmm

  2. Passingby

    Good tip. I was trying to find a way to limit my search options to applications, local files and settings, but I got halfway there and quite satisfied by: 1. setting all search (Win key) to Everything – that’d turn up apps and settings. 2. using Win+F for local files.

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