Search Contextual tab

Image: Greg Shultz

As I was completing my series of file management articles in Windows 10, multiple readers wrote to me, asking if I was going to cover the features that appear on the Search Contextual tab.

I was planning on covering the Search Contextual tab in a future article, because there are just so many great features in Windows 10—but I decided to do it now, since it plays in so well with the Filter feature I covered last week. Let’s take a look.

The Search tab

When you select the Search box in the upper right corner of File Explorer, you’ll immediately see the Search Contextual tab appear (Figure A). The Search tab is populated with a host of filters and additional search features arranged in several categories: Location, Refine, and Options.

Figure A

Figure A

Figure A

Image: Greg Shultz

The Search tab is populated with a host of filters and additional search features.

We’ll take a look at those additional features in a moment. As soon as you begin typing in the Search box, File Explorer immediately begins sifting through the search index for that text in folder names, file names, the contents of files, and in file properties. It then displays the results in File Explorer.

For example, I typed Man in the Search box in the Documents Library, and it instantly turned up 112 items (Figure B).

Figure B

Figure B

Figure B

Image: Greg Shultz

The Search process is fast and efficient.

Manually weeding through 112 files to the find the ones that I want would be a very time-consuming task. Fortunately, I can use Search filters to do the work for me.

Location filters

Using the filters in the Location category, I can better target my search. The default Location is All subfolders, which will conduct the search in the selected folder and all subfolders underneath it. If you’re not sure where on your hard disk the file is, you can expand the search by selecting This PC, which will search everywhere on the computer. If you know that the file is in the current folder, you can narrow the search by selecting Current folder, which will search only in the selected folder and not in any of the subfolders.

If the file or text you’re looking for was not found in these three most common locations, you can select Search again in and choose from any of the available options (Figure C). The options that you find will vary, depending on your situation.

Figure C

Figure C

Figure C

Image: Greg Shultz

The Search again in menu will display option relevant to your system.

Now, as you can see in my example, the choices on the menu include things like my Homegroup, Libraries, and the Internet, which will direct the search to Bing.

Refine filters

Using the filters in the Refine category will allow you to narrow your search even further. An interesting fact here is that the filters in the Refine category actually invoke a base version of the Windows Search Advanced Query Syntax.

When you select the Date modified filter (Figure D), you’ll see a menu that allows you to select one of the available timeframes, such as Yesterday or Last Year.

Figure D

Figure D

Figure D

Image: Greg Shultz

The Date modified filter provides you with a menu where you can select one of the available timeframes.

When you select one of the options on the Date modified menu, you’ll see the Advanced Query Syntax for the filter appear in the search box in light blue text. For example, if you select This Year, you’ll see datemodified:this year appears the search box (Figure E). The filter appears in the search box along with your original search term.

Figure E

Figure E

Figure E

Image: Greg Shultz

The Date modified filter invokes the Advanced Query Syntax.

In the case of the Date modified filter, the timeframes can also be refined. To do so, just place your cursor in the search right after the last character and click. When you do, you’ll see a panel appear that contains a calendar, and you can select a date or date range simply by clicking the dates on the calendar (Figure F). You can also select one of the other timeframes.

Figure F

Figure F

Figure F

Image: Greg Shultz

Using the calendar you can refine your date modified search to actual dates.

When you select the Kind filter, you’ll see an extensive menu that shows the different kinds of files that you can search for. I selected Document from the list, and the Advanced Query Syntax base term kind:=document appears in the search box (Figure G). This would then allow you to narrow your search to only files classified as documents by the Kind filter. My example turned up .pdf, . docx, and .txt files that contained the word Man in the title, properties, or contents.

Figure G

Figure G

Figure G

Image: Greg Shultz

Using the Kind filter will allow you to essentially narrow your search to a specific file type.

Looking at the available Kind filters reveals some very interesting ways that you can refine your search. For instance, you can specify content from Contacts, Instant Messages, Recorded TV, and Web History, just to mention a few. If you click the query text in the search box, a panel will appear that allows you to select one of the other Kind filters.

If you know roughly the size of the file that you’re searching for, you can use the Size filter (Figure H) to help narrow your search. If you click the query text in the search box, a panel will appear that allows you to select one of the other Size filters.

Figure H

Figure H

Figure H

Image: Greg Shultz

Using the Size filter allows you narrow your search to a specific file type.

If you select the Other properties filter, you can select some of the most common file properties. However, these filters work a bit differently than the others in that they require you to add information to the filter. For instance, I selected Type from the menu (Figure I), and it appears in the search box, but I must manually enter the name of the type that I want to search for right after the colon.

Figure I

Figure I

Figure I

Image: Greg Shultz

The Other properties filter requires user input.

Options

The items in the Options section aren’t filters, but they will help you to conduct your search operation more efficiently. For example, Recent searches essentially displays a history list of all your recent search operations (Figure J). There’s also a Clear search history command so that you can easily clean up the list when you no longer need it.

Figure J

Figure J

Figure J

Image: Greg Shultz

Recent searches displays a history of all your recent search operations.

From the Advanced options menu (Figure K), you can change which folders are indexed for fast searching or add non-indexed locations to a search operation. For example, you can configure the tool to search the contents files in non-indexed locations.

Figure K

Figure K

Figure K

Image: Greg Shultz

The Advanced options allows you to change indexed locations.

If you find yourself performing the same search over and over again, you can save yourself time and effort by saving the search so that you can easily access it anytime you need it. All you have to do is click Save search, and the search will be saved in the Saved Search folder in your user profile folder (Figure L).

Figure L

Figure L

Figure L

Image: Greg Shultz

You can save yourself time and effort by saving the search.

As you can see, saved searches appear in the Favorites section of the Navigation pane (Figure M), so that you can easily run a search whenever you need to.

Figure M

Figure M

Figure M

Image: Greg Shultz

If you have a search operation that you run on a regular basis, you can save the search.

There are two other commands on the Search tab: the Open file location command and the Close search command. Selecting a file in the search results display and then selecting the Open file location command will open the folder containing the file that is currently selected. Selecting the Close search command will do exactly what it says—it will close the Search tab and remove the results from the file pane.

What’s your take?

Do you think that the Option on the Search Contextual tab will allow you to more efficiently search for files on your hard disk or network drive? Let us know in the discussion thread below.

Also see

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Use the Search Contextual tab in Windows 10 to efficiently find files