ARCHIVED: In Windows, how do I locate a file if I know its name or its contents?

This content has been archived, and is no longer maintained by Indiana University. Resources linked from this page may no longer be available or reliable.

To locate a file with a known name or known contents in Windows:

Windows 8

With the cursor anywhere in the Start screen, begin typing your search term(s).

Note:
For help navigating, see Getting around in Windows.

Windows 7 and Vista

Enter your search term(s) in the Start menu search field.

Windows XP

Note: If this doesn't match what you see, refer to Getting around in Windows.

  1. From the Start menu, select either Search or Find, and then Files or Folders... or For files or folders.... A Search Results dialog box will appear.
  2. 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?

  3. 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 drives, choose My Computer.
  4. Click Search.

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 Search Options window itself.)

You can further restrict or direct your search. In the 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.

This is document accs in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2018-01-18 10:35:23.

Contact us

For help or to comment, email the UITS Support Center.