How To Search File Contents In Windows 7

By default, Windows 7 Search does not search through file contents. To enable Windows 7 to search file contents as well as files names:

  1. In Windows Explorer (the window you use to do the normal search and view your files), press the Alt key and click Tools
  2. Click Folder Options…
  3. Click on the Search tab
  4. Select Always search file names and contents (this might take several minutes)
  5. Click Ok

Now, when you use Windows  7 Search, it will search through the contents of files, not just for the file names. You might want to consider turning on Indexing to make searching file contents faster 😉

Addendum: You can also use OR, AND, and NOT in searches, along with the following advanced search options:

System.FileName:~<“my file”
Files whose names begin with “my file”. The ~< means “begins with.”
System.FileName:=”my file”
Files named “my file” The = means “matches exactly.”
System.FileName:~=”my file”
Files whose names contain the word “my file” or the characters pro as part of another word (such as “process” or “procedure”). The ~= means “contains.”
Files that aren’t pictures. The <> means “is not.”
Files that were modified on 28/12/1981. You can also type “System.DateModified:1981″ to find files changed at any time during that year.
Files whose authors don’t have “lew” in their name. The ~! means “doesn’t contain.”
Files that are tagged with the word sunset.
Files that are less than 1 MB in size.
Files that are more than 1 MB in size.

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2 thoughts on “How To Search File Contents In Windows 7

  1. I really struggle to get Windows 7 search to do everything I want, yes, this tip does help of course. But what about when you don’t want look “inside” all the time? I think most of us just wanted classic search back, something like what FileSearchEX provides. Since moving to ssd drives, thankfully looking in files is fast for both ways.

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    • Very true, why can’t there just be a tickbox to say search file contents in Windows 7 search, rather than this hidden, unintuitive setting?! Thanks for the tip on FileSearchEX. I haven’t used the program myself, but will I install a specific search program on the off chance I will do a search? Probably not, I’m pretty good with my file structuring :p Still, good to know of the product 😀

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