Using operators in Search : Hacking Windows Vista and 7

In this post I have discussed how you can use operators to use the integrated search in windows. This Works in Windows Vista and Windows 7  where the search is integrated in the core of windows operating system. I have given examples of Folder search, size search, Date search. There can be many more options just keep trying.

Today Morning I had bee playing with Windows Search and something came up which I never expected. Windows Vista / Windows 7 Integrated search is much more powerful than you can think of. I was trying find the largest file in one of my folder using the Size column and then I did something different. I typed in Size = 2000 KB in the search box and this was OMG it works!!!

Vista Search : Equal to operator

Searching with Size hack

It was doing an operator search i.e. =, + –  and then i tried > 2000 kb,  > 2000 kb < 3000 kb and it works. This is awesome.!!!

Vista Search : Greater than operator

Vista Search : Less than and Greater than operator

How is this working. In my view you can search by passing arguments here 2000 KB was the argument to any column name which is displayed in the details view. Here is what I did with date.

Searching with Date hack

Just type in date = 07-03-2009 and you can find all files which had been modified or created on that day. Now if you are searching for birth day pics I Guess you should use this instead of names.

Vista Search Date hack

Searching with Folder hack

Next is displaying only folders. All you need is just type in folder in the searhcbox and you will see only folder listed there. However I saw a zip file also listed not sure why but no files for sure.

Vista Search : Displaying only folders

Now we will display files in a particular folder. Type in folder “foldername” . Replace foldername with your folder name like I did for folder em  ( I have a embed folder and em is initial for that ) and this is what I got.

Vista Search : Displaying files of particular folder

If you are wondering that em is in my files also I just checked , the third file in the list above doesnt have em string any where in the file. 😉


  1. This type of free form search also works in Windows XP with Windows Desktop Search installed, although the syntax is slightly different:

    size:> 2000 kb < 3000 kb
    kind:folder system32

  2. Years ago, the only way you could search with a search engine effectively was to use their special “language” of characters that would taylor your search parameters, like the ones you demonstrating for a search of the vista system.

    Do web search engines still do this? Is there still a way to find this out for say Google?

  3. I truly hate this search approach, well at least it would be better if the user could decide the way a search should be performed (vista style or XP style).
    Why I hate it? because when I was looking for something that I couldn’t reckon the name I would just type *.whatever and bahm! I got results, and sometimes I would use it with the file size attribute and badabang I got what I was looking for.

    Now, after reading a lot about “how to search in vista” I get misleading results, looking for files I get folders in the mix (and I see the same folder listed 3 times each), some known files are completely missed… 100% my fault most likely but I can’t spent time studying a new system just so I can make a simple search.

    I understand the power of the new search but often I don’t need it, just the simple xp search worked for me.

  4. Try to find a string in a bunch of files. I am looking at a unique string in a text file and trying to get WDS to find it – impossible.

    I cannot believe I will have to develop a Powershell script to get this basic functionality that existed since Win 2000.

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