How to run custom searches in Windows 7/8 and afterwards

To take searching to the next level, you need to know about two obscure but powerful search features: Advanced Query Syntax and natural language queries. It is supported in Windows 7 afterwards i.e 8 and further/forthcoming.
How to use Advanced Query Syntax
When we do the standard search in Windows Explorer, windows looks for matched in file name, file contents and the properties associated with each file, i.e. metadata. So what if the case you want to search for a file having particular property? For example, Suppose you want to search for a file that was created on 1st May 2014? Here’s the rescue:

Syntax of AQS(Advanced Query Searches):

So, to search a file having creation date of 25-May-2014, you can use the following search query inside the search box in windows explorer:


and it will search all the files for you which are created on the said date. 

You’re free to use any metadata keyword that comes as a property of a file to narrow down your search, i.e: datemodified, name, type, size, owner etc. Please refer to this page for a complete list of keywords:

few more examples of search queries are as follows:

Looking for files of specific size:
size:>1024  (size greater than 1024 bytes)
size:<1024 (size less than 1024 bytes)
size:1024 (size equal to 1024 bytes)
size:1024kb (you can also make to kb/mb/gb –  files of 1024 KB)
size:>=5mb (files greater than or equal to size of 5 MB)

For files having specific owner:
owner:Sunny (owner is “Sunny”)

If you’re looking for music files only:

…and many more on the list! You can combine wildcards with the value to get best out of your search query, like:

name:sunny* (all files having file name started with “sunny”)

artists:*blue (all files having artists’ name ending with “blue”)

You can also combine multiple criteria using boolean operators (AND/OR/NOT):

  • name:important* AND datecreated:01/01/2014 

  • kind:Music OR kind:Game

  • name:important* AND kind:Note NOT kind:Music

Note: The Boolean operators AND, OR, and NOT must appear in all-uppercase letters!

How to use Natural Language Query
Natural language queries enable you to perform a search without using any operator!
Before you start, you need to activate this feature first. Follow these steps to activate it:

1. Open any folder (Skip this step if you already have any folder open)
2. Click on “Organize” Drop Down button” in the upper left corner below the address bar
3. Select “Folder and search options”.
4. Select “Search” Tab.
5. Under “How to search”, check “Use natural language search”.
6. Click Apply & OK.

That’s all you need to enable this feature.
Building natural language queries is a bit of practice and mind work because Microsoft has no documentation available yet. Feel free to experiment to get a feel of these queries:

Syntax for Natural Language Query
adjective  kind  verb  query
for example: cat photo by xyz (It will search for all the cat photos by xyz, simple as that!)
Feel free to try other combinations, like:
– email from xyz
– email to zyx
– png images created today
– images created before today
– gif images created this week
– documents by sunny
– music not by blue
– videos by jordan not by blue
This post gives you the basic idea behind advanced searching techniques available in windows 7 afterward. 

I hope you enjoyed this post… thanks for reading!! 🙂


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