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Windows 7 Searching: Inside Files

    Question

  • I cannot find a way to search inside files using Windows 7. How does one go about looking inside files, especially text files or PDFs, for a certain word? For example if I were to look for all files which include the word "facetious" in a folder full of .txt files, how would I look for that?
    Thursday, July 09, 2009 1:01 AM

Answers

  • The fastest way to find the name "Jane" is simply to open Instant Search, the Windows Desktop Search UI (WinKey + F), or an Explorer window (at or above the folder you want to search in) and type "Jane" in the search box. If that returns too many options for you, you can narrow the search to content only by typing "content:jane".

    This will, by default, search all indexed locations for all files who's filenames, metadata, or content have "Jane" anywhere. If you're in an unindexed location in an Explorer window, it will automatically start crawling through files manually for data instead of the index.

    I'd suggest using the WDS UI/Explorer over Instant Search in this scenario because you are looking for content and Content view helps.
    Thursday, July 09, 2009 3:32 AM

All replies

  • Hi,

     

    The quick way is typing “facetious kind:=document” in Start Search bar.

     

    For more information and other way, please refer to the following links:

     

    Finding Files Faster with Windows 7 Search

     

    Find what you're looking for

     

    Hope it helps.

    Thursday, July 09, 2009 2:16 AM
  • Sadly, this doesn't seem to work, and I think partially because I didn't explain well.

    I have a folder full of .txt files, we'll say they've got a bunch of numbers (1011, 1012, 1013), but are full of actual text. John went bowling. John went camping. Jane went swimming. Respectively.

    I want to search for "Jane." I want to be able to find 1013.txt, which says IN the document "Jane went swimming."

    I want to find all files which contain the text "Jane." How would I do that?
    Thursday, July 09, 2009 3:08 AM
  • The fastest way to find the name "Jane" is simply to open Instant Search, the Windows Desktop Search UI (WinKey + F), or an Explorer window (at or above the folder you want to search in) and type "Jane" in the search box. If that returns too many options for you, you can narrow the search to content only by typing "content:jane".

    This will, by default, search all indexed locations for all files who's filenames, metadata, or content have "Jane" anywhere. If you're in an unindexed location in an Explorer window, it will automatically start crawling through files manually for data instead of the index.

    I'd suggest using the WDS UI/Explorer over Instant Search in this scenario because you are looking for content and Content view helps.
    Thursday, July 09, 2009 3:32 AM
  • The search box searches for file names only on my Win 7 Ultimate x64 if you don't prefix it with "content:".  Using content: may work in some instances, but keep in mind it is case sensitive.

     

    The best tool I've found so far is Super Finder XT.  It gives you all the flexibility Windows Explorer should have.  Alas, it isn't integrated into Windows Explorer.

     

    Shame on Microsoft for making Explorer less functional.

    • Proposed as answer by Emre2010 Saturday, December 25, 2010 2:01 AM
    Thursday, June 03, 2010 10:04 PM
  • I have the same problem - and this causes it to fail to find the file I want

    I have a python file on a network folder.   Within that file (a text file) is a function called "showtags".

     

    Using Windows Explorer : The search box fails to find the file I want - even if I navigate to the folder where I know the document is.

     1) I navigate to the network folder containing the file

     2) I click on the search window at the top right of my Windows Explorer.

     3) I enter in "showtags"  (all in lower case)

     -> The popup appears

     * Add a search filter

     * Date Modified:     Size

    However I want neither of these options and no other options are available

     

     -> Searching returns nothing

     

    The second method also fails to find the file.

    1) If I instead press  Winkey + F  then the search window appears

    2) I enter in "showtags"  (all in lower case)

    -> the options available are

      *   Kind:  Date modified:  Size:   Name:

    However from this interface I am unable to select a folders to search in

     

    -> Searching fails to find the file

     

    In the end the only solution I had to find the file (after at least 45 minutes of searching using Windows 7) was to open up Notepad++  and use the search function within that.

    Tuesday, July 20, 2010 4:57 AM
  • How do I search for "keyword" in all text files (*.txt)? I don't want it to waste time searching other file types

     

    Thursday, August 05, 2010 9:14 AM
  • when you are in a search folder, you can go to: organize > folder and search options > search... and change the section where it says what to search.
    Tuesday, October 26, 2010 5:57 PM
  • As far as I can remember Win98 File searching system was giving much better results than Win7's. I don't know why they changed it in a bad way. Anyway DennisT.'s suggestion for "Super Finder XT" (freeware) was right. It gives better results and I can find what I was looking for inside all the files/folders according to several criterias I can choose. And even this small-freeware tool "http://www.harddisksearch.com/" is also more capable than WDS UI/Explorer or Instant Search.
    Saturday, December 25, 2010 2:06 AM
  • I'm using Win 7 SP1 with default folder search behavior, and searching a folder (not indexed) for text inside a bunch of log files.  After typing my search word and seeing "No items match your search.", there's a separate section below where it says "search again in:", and I chose "File Contents", and was able to find exactly what I needed...

    Like albertgk mentioned: There's also a section under TOOLS, FOLDER OPTIONS, and on the Search tab where you can choose your default search behavior to search contents every time....

    I like the ability to customize, but don't like the fact that Microsoft changed the defaults to be different than previous versions... Still loving windows 7 as a whole though...

    Friday, April 15, 2011 1:42 PM
  • Old thread, but still warrants answer as I too was looking for it.

    If you use the drop down to select things like  'details' 'list' 'extra large icons', etc, at the bottom is the option 'Contents'

    Works great for me.

    • Proposed as answer by DDB_CA Wednesday, August 03, 2011 10:45 PM
    Wednesday, August 03, 2011 10:45 PM
  • Why does Microsoft constantly DE-feature Windows when they come out with a new version?  I can't imagine how ridiculous Windows 8 will be.  They will probably make it even more useless than Windows 7.
    Wednesday, September 14, 2011 12:21 AM
  • Why does Microsoft constantly DE-feature Windows when they come out with a new version?


    Because they try to follow others - in this case Google.

    Someone must have said "hey, look what Google can do", and management forgot to ask whether what was a bona fide search in the early days of XP really SHOULD become a fuzzy half-hearted attempt to find something interesting somewhere on the hard drive.  For people who really need a search, these are not even close to the same thing!

    Never trust Windows Search results.  Never.

    -Noel

    Wednesday, September 14, 2011 1:08 AM
  • You need to select 'Search file names and contents' under Tools -> Folder Options -> Search in Explorer, as well as changing the advanced indexing options for the file type you wish to search. See below link:

     

    http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_7-files/in-windows-7-i-want-to-search-for-all-files/aadfe1f1-4a33-406b-8e72-bb920efa4f30

     

    Cheers, Matt

    • Proposed as answer by jmcconda Friday, March 21, 2014 6:46 PM
    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 12:43 AM
  • Matt, that's all fine and good, but even when configured to do so Windows Search misses things.

    We don't need computers returning "fuzzy" results.

    -Noel

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 3:51 PM
  • content:word   

    wills produce "word" word being what ever word you need inside the file

    I looked at the date command and it had a colon and tried just content colon and the word I needed to find inside any file no spaces...ha!

    when I press submit this text looks like it leaves the colon out,

    content:jane

    haven't tried two works yet.

    good day


    • Edited by memmieaka Wednesday, February 15, 2012 4:58 AM
    Wednesday, February 15, 2012 4:56 AM
  • content:word   

    wills produce "word" word being what ever word you need inside the file

    Unfortunately, not always (because of index issues), and not in every file type (design deficiencies).

    Take it from me:  Do NOT rely on Windows Search results for anything important.

     

    -Noel


    Detailed how-to in my new eBook: Configure The Windows 7 "To Work" Options

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012 8:24 PM
  • I followed some advice on how to setup w7 search and started indexing but it took forever and didnt produce results i was looking for.
    Installed Super Finder XT and i was able to find the word i waslooking inside a textfile ( which name i didnt remember) on a harddisk partition i didnt know either i was looking for in 61 secs of search

    so forget windows 7 search its useless for finding words inside a textfile ( and probably useless as a search engine for other things to, a lot more useless than XP search that was slow but atleast it worked)

    Get Super Finder xt for that, its way better, more simple and a lot faster

    i will warn against a search engine called Everything

    depends on where you download it it might contain spyware
    i got the Babylon search and toolbvar spyware from installing Everything search and it cant search inside files ( i atleast cant figure out how) but it works well for searching for files themselfs but as mentioned before it can contain spyware

    use Super Finder XT ( downloaded from Cnet) it doesnt contain spyware

    Tuesday, April 17, 2012 2:48 PM
  • The best way I have found is using the Virtual PC WindowsXP.

    It's exactly the same as before.

    Monday, May 28, 2012 4:49 AM
  • not having the old search with the animated search-dog in win7 is just too bad.

    i have been having a tough time with no possibility of the good old quick search... the helpful advice comes in dozens but not one helps....

    :-( 

    Thursday, September 13, 2012 12:39 PM
  • not having the old search with the animated search-dog in win7 is just too bad.

    i have been having a tough time with no possibility of the good old quick search... the helpful advice comes in dozens but not one helps....

    :-( 

    Did you try Superfinder XT?
    Thursday, September 13, 2012 3:36 PM
  • i have been having a tough time with no possibility of the good old quick search... the helpful advice comes in dozens but not one helps....

    Sometimes "To Work" options have to come from a 3rd party source.  Have you looked into the freeware package grepWin?  The interface is a bit geeky, but it definitely works, even finding things expressed in Unicode embedded in files, which is something Windows Search can't do (among the other dozen things it stumbles on).

     

    -Noel


    Detailed how-to in my eBooks:  

    Configure The Windows 7 "To Work" Options
    Configure The Windows 8 "To Work" Options

    Thursday, September 13, 2012 3:49 PM
  • check your folder options,,,maybe it is hide or not or else make a restore default in folder orptions

    open my computer>click organize in upperportion of the tab>click folder option and search> then restore..

    if it is helpfull just mark as helpful, and maybe if you want some helpful tips , click the link

    http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=27747

    thanks

    Sunday, September 16, 2012 1:30 PM
  • just type refine search: or open my computer in the address bar,,type the file you are looking for 

    Hope it will help you

    thnkas

    Sunday, September 16, 2012 1:36 PM
  • I cannot believe what a piece of crap Windows 7 is.

    I still do not know how to find the search options.

    Also: What a royal pain it is copying files to a pen drive or a hard-drive (which I do many times each day). Too many steps. Why can it not just ask me once if I want to overwrite (like XP).

    And when copying it asks you if you want to "MOVE" the file. NO! I do not want to move anything. I want to copy a folder and paste in another location. I do not want to move it from one location and paste in another location. They need to let people who's first language is English write the prompts.

    And it seems all the IO stuff is much slower than XP even though it's now 64 bit.

    Monday, September 24, 2012 9:33 PM
  • Wait until you try Win 8.
    Monday, September 24, 2012 9:42 PM
  • I still do not know how

    Your frustration with change is showing.

    Don't worry, we've all felt it.

    Rest assured that after you get all the options tweaked and have become familiar with all the new ways to do things that you'll ultimately feel Windows 7 is a good system, and it can actually be quite pleasant to use.

     

    -Noel


    Detailed how-to in my eBooks:  

    Configure The Windows 7 "To Work" Options
    Configure The Windows 8 "To Work" Options

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012 4:51 PM
  • Just use Notepad++ (freeware) -  perfectly and reliably searches  even on remote locations
    Tuesday, November 13, 2012 11:46 PM
  • Hey Noel,

         I've asked this question for a while now, and nobody has been able to give me a straight answer, but with all your points, I figured maybe you could:

         Do you know of any way to search for a phrase in a document file located on a company server?  I don't really want to install a 3rd party search tool on my work computer, and am basically trying to search like I used to in XP.  Any help you can provide is much appreciated.

    Greg

    Tuesday, January 08, 2013 10:21 PM
  • Hey Noel,

    Do you know of any way to search for a phrase in a document file located on a company server?  I don't really want to install a 3rd party search tool on my work computer, and am basically trying to search like I used to in XP.  Any help you can provide is much appreciated.

    Trying to use Windows for searching is a complete bust.  Windows Search just doesn't work right, because it's not truly a search.  It's some kind of fuzzy "type something interesting and see what happens" function, probably designed to "enrich" the user experience of the non-technical general public.  It's worth repeating:  It simply isn't a search at all in the traditional sense.

    The best tool I've found, though the interface is a bit geeky, is the grepWin search tool, freeware (open source) by Stefan Kueng.

    It enumerates files in subfolders and actually SEARCHES them, even including wide character (Unicode) text.  The results are rigorous, with even files it cannot open being listed (as "could not open"), and it's actually quite fast - often returning results more quickly than indexed operations in Windows itself.

     

    -Noel


    Detailed how-to in my eBooks:  

    Configure The Windows 7 "To Work" Options
    Configure The Windows 8 "To Work" Options


    • Edited by Noel Carboni Wednesday, January 09, 2013 4:19 PM misspelling
    Wednesday, January 09, 2013 4:16 PM
  • There is another possibility - you could install XP mode.  This essentially runs XP as a virtual machine and of course it would provide access to the XP search facility.  I don't consider this particularly viable, but it would satisfy a requirement that the software be all Microsoft.

     

    -Noel


    Detailed how-to in my eBooks:  

    Configure The Windows 7 "To Work" Options
    Configure The Windows 8 "To Work" Options

    Wednesday, January 09, 2013 4:25 PM
  • A good tool that I've used for years (since 2010) is 'Locate32'. It gives you a kind of Windows 98 experience for searching, and will even tell you if any files were deleted/moved in your search results.

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013 7:39 PM
  • Windows Search has the capability to ease your problem..Type in the Search Button of a file that u looking for..then hit enter

    Or check maybe the folder options maybe it is hide.

    Hope it will help you..

    Thnkas

    Tuesday, February 05, 2013 1:57 PM
  • Windows Search has the capability to ease your problem..Type in the Search Button of a file that u looking for..then hit enter

    Or check maybe the folder options maybe it is hide.

    The operative term being "maybe".  Antonio, I don't mean to be rude, but you seem to be thinking about this at entirely the wrong level.

    Windows Search isn't a search at all, but rather some kind of fuzzy logic ridden "poke around and find me something interesting to look at" program presumably trying to emulate Google.  Searching a hard drive for something is not the same as searching the internet for something.

    Windows Search results are usually inaccurate and at best incomplete.  It CANNOT be relied upon to actually FIND things you know are there, so you'd be a fool to try to rely on it to find things you don't know are there.  As such worthless fo anyone who really needs to be accurate and thorough at what they're doing.

    Trust me:  Look to a 3rd party application such as I mentioned above to provide results you can bank on.  Windows Search can't do it.

    -Noel


    Detailed how-to in my eBooks:  

    Configure The Windows 7 "To Work" Options
    Configure The Windows 8 "To Work" Options

    Tuesday, February 05, 2013 2:53 PM
  • I had a folder that I couldn't search from the Explorer search box, so I copied the entire directory to a new location and search worked there. After a bit of compare to figure out how the two locations were different, I found that the directory that could be searched had given SYSTEM (local computer) full control of the directory in addition to myself, while the directory where search wasn't working had only my id with any permissions.

    Adding local computer user SYSTEM to the security settings and giving it full control of the directory fixed search in the original location.

    I suspect this permission is needed as well by the indexed search.

    Thursday, May 09, 2013 1:55 PM
  • Yes, an old thread, yet am still encountering issues (is there a newer thread with more details/options?).

    I have used most of the tricks mentioned here (exceptions of 3rd party software & adjusting security settings). However, the staff I work with are still having search difficulties (e.g., misses files which should meet the specified search criteria, repeated re-trainigns on using the Win7 search options, ...).

    Please note: Third party solutions are *not* an option for us.

    We need search to be as, or more, accurate than it was in Windows XP.

    Suggestions?

    [For myself, I have a work laptop which, so far, has not been updated to Win7, so I have access to the XP search capability, though for how long this can avoid the upgrade is unknown.]

    Thanks for suggestions!

    • Edited by DonMoody Tuesday, February 04, 2014 5:29 PM
    Tuesday, February 04, 2014 5:23 PM
  • Don, I'm in the same boat as you, no 3rd party tools allowed.

    This link that Mathaus101 posted above contained the answer for me. In my case, I wanted to search inside files with the .log extension. Apparently, that extension is not marked as content searchable by default. Because why would anyone want to search the contents of a log file? :)

    http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_7-files/in-windows-7-i-want-to-search-for-all-files/aadfe1f1-4a33-406b-8e72-bb920efa4f30?auth=1


    -John
    • Edited by jmcconda Friday, March 21, 2014 6:45 PM
    Friday, March 21, 2014 6:45 PM
  • I agree, this used to work great in Windows Explorer (the popup with the dog that wagged its tail while the search was running).  So of course they "improved" it by making it more complex to use...
    Friday, March 28, 2014 12:02 PM
  • Hi

    It doesn't work for me. I use  windows 7 ultimate 64bit Sp1

    and  when i check it it won't look in contain of files. for example when i have telephone number like 75013423 and i want to know in which text file i have it, there is not any way in win7 or i can not find it

    it was better in XP

    Wednesday, April 09, 2014 5:40 PM
  • Worked perfectly!!!  Thank you!!!
    Thursday, September 25, 2014 8:02 PM