ARCHIVED: In Windows, how do I locate a file if I know its name or its contents?
To locate a file with a known name or known contents in Windows:
With the cursor anywhere in the Start screen, begin typing your search term(s).
Note: For help navigating in Windows 8, see About views in Windows (Start screen/menu, Control Panel) and Microsoft's Windows 8 FAQ.
Windows 7 and Vista
Enter your search term(s) in the
Start menu search field.
Note: If this doesn't match what you see, refer to About navigation settings in Windows.
- From the
Startmenu, select either
Find, and then
Files or Folders...or
For files or folders.... A
Search Resultsdialog box will appear.
- In the resulting dialog box, click
All files and folders. Then, in the "All or part of the file name" field, type the name of the file you want to locate. Alternatively, in the "A word or phrase in the file" or the "Containing text:" field, you can enter search terms based on the file's content.
Note: You may use wildcard characters in place of text of which you are unsure; see ARCHIVED: What is a wildcard, and how can I use it?
- In the "Look in:" field, click the arrow to display a drop-down
menu from which you can choose a drive or folder to search. Select the
drive to search. To search all your hard drives and mapped network
Note: To include hidden files in your search returns,
you must specifically instruct Windows to look for them. See ARCHIVED: In Windows, how do I view hidden files? (You can also indicate this in the
Options window itself.)
You can further restrict or direct your search.
Search Results window, the down arrows beside
"When was it modified?" allow you to search for files recently
accessed. Similarly, the down arrows beside "What size is it?"
allow you to search for files of certain size ranges. Under "More
advanced options", you can specify the type of file, whether or
not to search system and hidden folders, whether or not to look in
subfolders, and additional options.
Last modified on November 13, 2012.