Searching for files on a cluttered Windows PC isn’t easy. Windows search tool often makes the whole experience painful. You have to sit there waiting for their slow searching tool to look for a specific file in a folder.
Worse, using the Windows 10 menu sucks. Instead of merely showing you local files on your PC that would match the search query, Microsoft is giving more precedence to its search engine Bing and the new Microsoft Edge.
But don’t let that hog your search for files on Windows. These tips will help you search for files on your Windows machine better than before.
1. Using Everything
Search Everything is a powerful third-party tool that is available for free. The best part of using the tool is the speed of searching documents and files — it searches for files quicker than Microsoft’s built-in solution.
It allows you to search for folders and files across the whole windows machine in just a few seconds, providing real-time results. The tool also looks up for possible matches while you’re typing.
Everything is dedicated to searching files and folders, but you can also use it for file sharing using FTP, HTTP, or ETP servers.
But the tool delivers on its promise. When you boot up your Windows machine, the first thing Everything does is indexing all the files and folders found on your PC.
Everything also has a simple yet functional interface differentiating the top menu and search bar from the results section.
How to Search files using Everything
Download the exe files online and double-click to launch the installer. Follow the instructions to complete the installation.
Launch the tool
Everything will index all files and folders on your local storage. It should take variable time depending on the number of files and folders available on your system.
Input your search query
As you type, Everything will give you real-time results on files that have matching keywords to ease the whole process.
You can sort the results for more accuracy using the top “Search” button. The default searching option looks for Everything from folders, video, executables(exe), documents, audio, picture, and compressed files. The search menu allows you to the folder the results shown using basic file types or advanced options like regex and more.
To navigate to a folder’s or a file’s location, right-click on any search result and select Open path. You can copy, delete, rename, and share files or folders from the right-click menu.
The best way to utilize Everything is by pinning an icon to the Windows taskbar.
That way, you only need to tap on the icon to launch and lookup your files or folders.
2. Using Ava Find
Ava Find is another great lookup tool for Windows. The only caveat is that Ava Find’s developer seems to have ditched supporting the app as the last update was provided in 2009. Apart from that, Ava Find is a great tool to search for folders and files on your Windows machine.
Ava Find has tools like the scout bot, which automatically lets you discover newly downloaded files even without the need to run a search. This comes in handy when you leave your PC with someone else for some time.
You can also open files from the search results.
How to use Ava Find to lookup files on Windows
Download and Install Ava Find. You’ll notice the app’s design mimics the old Windows 7 design.
Give the app time to build a search cache.
To search a file or folder, use the availablesearch toolbar. From the toolbar, you can streamline your search by restricting Ava Find to only search for audio, documents, programs, etc.
Matching items from searches are shown in the Search Results pane. Use double-click to open an item or right-click for more options – just like Everything
Scoutbot runs in the background looking for both new and changed files automatically.
My Picks is a section dedicated to showcasing files you’ve recently opened using Ava Find. But you can drag-and-drop files in this section.
Ava Find is also a powerful tool for searching files on Windows 10, but the only caveat is advanced features are locked. You’re better off using Everything in this case.
Searching files on Windows 10 without Using Third-party tools
Microsoft has worked hard to spoil the ease in searching for files on Windows. But it doesn’t mean it’s a must you should use third-party tools.
Here are different ways to search for files on Windows;
3. Using The Start Menu
Although Microsoft decided to prioritize what Bing says while searching for items in the start menu, it’s still one of the easiest ways to look up files and folders. I loved the early versions of Windows 10 since it allowed one to search for local items using the “My Stuff” button.
Things have changed since, and now Windows 10 searches for files both offline and online. You can currently disable the online search option by disabling Cortana, but this process is quite tedious.
Although the online searching option might be irritating, it’s handy when someone has lots of documents stored in different locations, including online in OneDrive.
To ensure better clarity, use the available filters located above. You can choose to only search for Apps, Documents, folders, photos, music, and more. This should streamline your search to ensure more clarity in results. If you wish to search on the internet only, choose Web.
Default options will search for anything, from folders and different file types online and offline on your local storage.
The only bummer with using the start menu or Cortana to search for things is that only those in indexed locations will show up.
Sadly, that means you may fail to see a file show up in the search bar, yet it’s available on your PC. In this case, using the previously mentioned third-party tools is way better.
However, you can also choose folders indexed by Windows 10, which will work in your favor (we’ll get to how you can do that in a few).
4. Using the File Explorer
Using Window 10’s file explorer is not the best way, but it’s better than nothing. But using it can be handy, especially when you’re sure where a particular file or folder is located. If it’s your local C drive, open the file explorer, head into Disk C, and search from the search bar at the top.
Using the file explorer, you can also use filters to narrow down your search.
You can filter files by their kind, including anything from tasks, calendar, video, playlist, game, folder, to name a few.
There’s also an option to filter your search depending on file and folder size and other properties.
File explorer also tries to show real-time results. However, the speed at which results are displayed will depend on various factors like the number of files available on that disc or folder and even how fast your Windows machine is.
But like using the Start Menu or Cortana, only indexed files and folders will show up.
To force Windows 10 to index more files and folders, use the available Advanced Options button included at the top.
Click Advanced Options and select Change Indexed Locations. Windows 10 will take you to a page where you can select what you want to be indexed and what shouldn’t be indexed while you search in the File Explorer as well as from the Start Menu.