Advanced Search

How to Use Advanced Search Options in Vista
This will show you how to open and use the Advanced Search Options in Vista including search tips.
How to Use Advanced Search Options in Vista

information   Information
Advanced Search allows you to do a customized search. This will show you how to open and use the Advanced Search Options in Vista including search tips.

This is a good choice for searches whenever you:
  • Don't know where a file or folder is located, and want to look in many locations at once.
  • Want your search results to include files from several folders at once.
  • Want to create an advanced search that looks for files using several different criteria.
Note   Note
By default, the Search folder searches in a set of locations called Indexed Locations. This includes all of the folders in your personal folder (which includes Documents, Pictures, Music, Desktop, and other common locations), e‑mail, and offline files. You can add additional locations to be included in the Indexed Locations if you commonly store files in different locations.

EXAMPLE: Advanced Search Window

Here's How:
1. Press the Windows Key + F.
NOTE: This will open the Advanced Search window from anywhere in Vista.
2. Click on the drop down arrow by Advanced Search. (See screenshot below step 11)​
3. Select Search Results to be Displayed -
NOTE: This is the Show only section.​
A) Select what type of item you want to only see in the search results. (See screenshot below step 11)​
NOTE: This will be only All items, E-mail messages, Documents, Pictures, Music, or Other (All items except E-mail, Documents, Pictures, and Music).​

4. Select a Location to Search -
NOTE: This will allow you to select any location to search in for the file.​
A) Click on the drop down arrow to the right of Location. (See screenshot below step 11)​
B) Select the search location.​

5. To Narrow the Search by Date -
NOTE: You can narrow the search to any time before or after the date you specify.
A) Click on Date and choose to search by either the Date, Date Modifed, or Date Created for the file. (See screenshot below step 11)​
B) To the right of Date, click on any. Select to search for any date or when a date is, is before, or is after a the date you specify in the field to the right.​
C) Select a specific date.​
NOTE: This will be grayed out for any in step 3B since you will not be narrowing the search by date.

6. To Narrow the Search by Size -
NOTE: You can look for files larger or smaller than the specified size.​
A) Next to Size (KB), select to search for any size or for a size that equals, is less than, or is greater than the size you specify in the box to the right. (See screenshot below step 11)​
B) Type in a file size number for KB.​

7. To Do a Thorough Search -
NOTE: By default Advanced Search only searches the Indexed files. This will allow you to search all files. See: How to Use the Indexing Options in Vista
A) Check the Include non-indexed, hidden, and system files box. (See screenshot below step 11)​

8. To Narrow the Search with a File Name -
NOTE: Type part or all of the file name you are looking for.
A) In the Name field, type in a file name to search for. (See screenshot below step 11)​

9. To Narrow the Search by Tags -
NOTE: Type any tag, words or phrases you add to your files to describe them, to see a list of files to which that tag has been applied.​
A) In the Tags field, type in a tag to search for. (See screenshot below step 11)​

10. To Narrow the Search by Authors -
NOTE: The would be the name of the person who created the file.​
A) In the Authors field, type in a author to search for. (See screenshot below step 11)​

11. Click on the Search button when ready to start the search. (See screenshot below)​

That's it,

Last edited by a moderator:
Shawn Brink


I know this is slightly off topic, but I'm hoping to get this one thing straight: since Vista uses an indexed search process, it does not search unindexed locations? Sounds good on paper... My problem is that when searching a DVD drive from the folder's search box I get no results returned even though many files with this name are on the drive, even though a <windows> - F search will return resuts.

Hmm, maybe I need to include the DVD in the index? No, there is no option to do this in "Indexing Options".

So, the search box only searches indexed locations?
Hi Geez,

By default Vista uses the Index for all searches. This will only give you search results from what is included/listed in the Index. External devices cannot be included in the Index though.

However, you can specify Vista to do a non-indexed search so that it will search everything instead of just what is listed in the Index. You can do this through Advanced Search (step 7) here, or adjust your Search settings for all searches here:

Hope this helps,
Is they a way to always keep the index hidden files, system files etc always checked without manually having to do it? same with the location?
hi shawn, is there a way to have the "include non indexed...." box checked by default on any search? (without having to click it manually)

cause seems i'm using it 99.9% of the time. (and seems more like xp in that way...which i prefer)
Hi Bleeping Crazy,

You could disable the index completely to have Vista always use a non-indexed search, and change the Search options to help fine tune it more. It will not check the box, but Vista would be using a non-indexed search anyways.

Hope this helps,
My Vista always let me use my search and it would find any word on the computer (whether in a document or document name, etc.) Love it. I installed SP2 yesterday and when I use matter what I put into it...I get nothing at all. HELP!
Hello Ralepertygal, and welcome to Vista Forums.

Have you already set your Search options for how you want your search results afterwards? Installing the SP2 can reset everything back to default.

Hope this helps for now,
Yeah I tried that just now but no matter what I set things at it tells me no items match your search. It just isn't actually searching for anything anywhere I don't think. SO Weird?
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