Here are some of the must-know and most useful File Explorer search syntax and commands to improve the search results and filter out unnecessary results.
Searching in the File Explorer is trivial. You type what you want in the File Explorer search bar and it will show the results. Thanks to the enhanced mode, the File Explorer search is pretty fast too. For example, if I want to search for a movie file, I will type the movie name in the search bar. If what I typed is in the file name, File Explorer will find the file and shows it as a search result.
This is how a vast majority of us search in File Explorer. However, what if you don’t know the actual file name? What if you want to filter files by size or find large files? What if you want to find specific file types or files created on, before, or after a certain date? In those cases, you use the File Explorer Search Syntax.
Using the File Explorer search commands, you can narrow down the search results and filter out unnecessary results. In this quick and simple Windows 10 guide, let me share with you the most useful File Explorer search syntax commands that will improve that File Explorer search experience.
File Explorer Search Syntax & Commands
Below are some of the most useful file explore search commands, their syntax, and how to use them.
- Wildcard syntax to filter results
- Syntax to find specific file types
- Command to find video and music files
- Syntax to find image files
- Syntax to filter files by size
- Find files created on, after, or before a date
- File search syntax to filter folders only
- Use Boolean operators to mix & match commands
Go to the folder where you want to search and use the commands as shown. To search the entire hard disk, open the File Explorer, click on “This PC” on the sidebar and then search.
1. Wildcard syntax to filter results
When you don’t know the exact file name, you can use the wildcard syntax (*) to find and filter files in the File Explorer. The wildcard syntax forces File Explorer to ignore everything and show the results that only contain the search term. To use the wildcard syntax, you add “
*” to either side or both sides of a search term. The search syntax will look something like this:
For example, to find files with the word “copy” in their name, you should type “
*copy*“. This will show all the files that have “copy” in their name either at the start, middle, or end.
If needed, you can chain multiple wildcards and search terms. A chained wildcard will look something like this:
2. Syntax to find specific file types
You can use the wildcard syntax to find specific file types in the file explorer. The wildcard file type syntax is as follows:
For example, to find and folder JPEG files in a folder, you should type “*.jpeg” in the File Explorer search bar. When needed, you can include search terms for better results. For instance, to find a JPEG file with “day” in its name, you should type “
3. Command to find videos and music
To search for all video and music files regardless of their file type or extension, you can use the “kind” syntax in the File Explorer search.
To find all video files, use the below syntax.
For music files, use the below syntax.
One thing to keep in mind while using the above syntax is that the File Explorer will only show files that it recognizes as a video or music file. If the File Explorer doesn’t know if a file is a music or video file, it will not appear in the search results.
4. Syntax to find images
To search for images or pictures regardless of their file type or extension, you can use the same “kind” syntax in the File Explorer search.
To find all images or pictures, use the below syntax.
5. Syntax to filter files by size
To find files of a specific size, you can use the “
size” command in File Explorer. The best thing about the size command is that it comes with predefined flags. They are small (16KB to 1MB), medium (1MB to 128MB), large (128MB to 1GB), huge (1GB to 4GB), and gigantic (greater than 4GB). If that’s not enough, you can manually set the file size to search.
File Explorer search syntax to filter files by size:
size: small | medium | large | huge | gigantic
According to the above syntax, to find gigantic files, you need to type “size: gigantic” in the File Explorer search bar. As soon as you do that, File Explorer will show all the files that are over 4GB.
To set the size manually, you can use the greater than (>) or less than (<) symbols along with the actual file size you are targeting. For example, to find files bigger than 5GB, you would type “
size: >5GB“. To find files less than 50MB, you would type “
Detailed article here -> how to filter files by their size in File Explorer.
6. Find files created on, after, or before a date
You can use the “date” command to find files created on, after, or before a certain date. Here is the syntax you should follow.
- Find files created today —
- Find files created yesterday —
- To find files created this week —
date: this week
- Find files created last week —
- Find files created last month —
Apart from the predefined date flags, you also also specify a specific date. While using a specific date, use the below syntax.
For example, to find files created on 18th March 2020, you have to type “
date:18/03/2020” in the File Explorer search bar.
You can also search for files created after or before a certain date. To do that, you have to add the greater than (>) or less than (<) symbol at the start of the date. Here, the
< symbols imply after and before a given date respectively. For instance, to find files created after 18th March 2020, you will type
7. File search syntax to filter folders only
While searching, you can use the “
kind” command along with “
folders” parameter to force the File Explorer to show folders only. Here is the syntax to search for folders in file explorer.
8. Use boolean operators to mix & match commands
File Explorer search syntax has multiple boolean operators to further narrow down the search results. They are —
- To find items that contain social, but not security —
social NOT security
- Find files that contain social or security in their name —
social OR security
- To find items that contain social and security in any order —
- To find items that contain the exact phrase social security —
Important note: while using NOT and OR operators, it is important to capitalize them. If you don’t capitalize, File Explorer won’t recognize them as operators.
That is all. As you can see, the File Explorer has several search command that make your life a bit easier while searching for something.
If you think I missed any of your favorite File Explorer search command or if you need any help using the above syntax, command below and let me know.