Finding a specific app, file, or setting buried in the depths of Windows 10 can be challenging. If you’re having trouble tracking down specific items across the Start menu, File Explorer, and Windows Settings menu, use the search feature. Windows 10 offers a powerful and flexible search tool that can help you find exactly what you want, no matter where it is.
With the Windows 10 search tool, you can conduct narrow searches to find specific items such as apps from the Start menu, music from File Explorer, and preferences from the Settings menu.
You can run web searches directly from the search box without first having to open your browser. The tool even gives you easy access to the apps and files you use most frequently.
This search feature was once closely tied to Cortana, but the Windows 10 May 2019 Update split the two apart. Windows 10 search also has its own settings screen where you can customize your experience.
With the Windows 10 November 2019 Update, Windows Search is now integrated into the search function in File Explorer. That means you can type or select a keyword in the search field, and File Explorer suggests files based on your search term. Now, let’s check out how to use the search tool.
Starting Your Search
Click the search box at the bottom left of your screen to get started. By default, the search window shows the top apps you use, as well as recent activities, so you can easily click on the programs and files you use most. Click the Manage in Timeline link to view your Windows 10 Timeline, which shows every program, webpage, document, and file you recently opened. Select a panel to open the item up, or click on any empty area in between to close the timeline.
Run a Search
Conduct a search by typing what you need into the search box. By default, Windows searches across several categories to deliver results. You can open an item from here, or you can narrow the search results further.
Search by Categories
The search menu consists of several categories, including Apps, Documents, Email, Web, and—from the More drop-down menu—Folders, Music, People, Photos, Settings, and Video. Click a category to filter the results.
When you’re searching for a specific software program, you can click Apps to narrow the search field. Looking for a document related to your search term? Select the heading for Documents. If you’re seeking an email connected with your search term, select the heading for Email.
You can even search for a website or specific web page under the Web tab. The search window shows you direct results in the right pane and related searches in the left pane. Click on one of the searches and you’re directed to a Bing page.
Expedite your search by typing the category directly into the search box, and Windows will show you results from the correct category. To do this, type the category followed by a colon and then your search term (apps: Spotify; documents: iPhone).
Manage Search in Taskbar
Maybe you think the search box takes up a lot of space on the Windows Taskbar, space you could devote to other apps and icons. Shrink it down to an icon by right-clicking any empty space on the Taskbar and selecting Search > Show search icon. The big box is reduced to a small icon.
Search in Files Explorer
Now, let’s check out the new search functionality in File Explorer. Open File Explorer and navigate to the folder you want to search within. Click in the search field. You should see a list of items from previous searches. Type a character or two, and the items from previous searches match your criteria. Press Enter to see all the search results in the window. Click the correct search result to open the corresponding document or other file.
Change Search Settings
Control Search History
Microsoft collects certain information related to your searches to deliver the most accurate results, but you can disable Windows from viewing your device and search history. With this kind of setting, you can protect your privacy but still allow Windows to gather the necessary data to work effectively.
Control Search Privacy
From this page, you can also view and clear any search history you have with Bing. Click the link for Search history settings to view your recent searches, then hit the button to View and delete search history.
Exclude Files and Folders
You can view and control which folders are includes in a search. Go to Settings > Search, then select the Searching Windows tap on the left-hand side. Under the Find My Files section, you can opt for a classic search, which looks for items only in your libraries and desktop. Choose the Enhanced option to widen the search to your entire computer. This search mode may find more items but will take longer to index. In the Excluded Folders section, add or remove folders you don’t want included in your searches.
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