Configuring Windows Search to search file contents
The built-in search in Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10 is configured to search file names and content of supported files in indexed locations, and for file names only in locations that are not indexed.
First thing that you may want to take a look at if search is not finding the files you are looking for is the list of indexed locations on the system. To do that click on the start orb in Windows 7, enter index, and select Indexing Options from the results.
In Windows 8 or 10, enter indexing options on the start page and select the Indexing Options result from the list of search results.
Windows 7 and windows 8 index the personal user folder, with the exception of the AppData subfolder, the start menu, and all offline files.
On Windows 10, only the Start Menu, Users folder, and the Internet Explorer history are searched by default.
You can add or remove locations from being indexed with a click on Modify. This opens a folder browser that you can use to add or remove locations from Windows Search.
Windows Search takes special care of the folders listed there. What you do need to know though is that it depends on the file type whether its content is indexed or not. To find out, go back to the main indexing options window and click on advanced there.
Switch to the file types tab to get a list of all known file types and their indexing status.
You will notice that Windows Search won't search the content of the majority of files. This makes sense for binary file types for instance which usually do not reveal any data that can be used by Windows Search.
Sometimes though a file type may have been classified incorrectly or not at all. You can modify individual file types here easily by selecting the file extension with eh left mouse button and switching between index properties only and index properties and file contents. You can furthermore add file extensions to the list.
What if you want to search the contents of files that are not stored in an indexed location? For that, you need to modify how Windows Search operates.
- Windows 7: open Windows Explorer and click on Organize > Folder and Search options. Switch to the Search tab here and check the always search files and contents (this might take several minutes) box.
- Windows 8: open Windows Explorer, click on View >Options > Change folder and search options. Switch to search tab and check the always search files and contents (this might take several minutes) box
- Windows 10: same as Windows 8.
Here you can also include compressed files in the search which are otherwise excluded when non-indexed locations are searched.Advertisement