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.
Here you can also include compressed files in the search which are otherwise excluded when non-indexed locations are searched.Advertisement
Advertising revenue is falling fast across the Internet, and independently-run sites like Ghacks are hit hardest by it. The advertising model in its current form is coming to an end, and we have to find other ways to continue operating this site.
We are committed to keeping our content free and independent, which means no paywalls, no sponsored posts, no annoying ad formats or subscription fees.
If you like our content, and would like to help, please consider making a contribution:
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.