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Windows 8: Search from the Start screen

There are new ways of working in Windows 8 and you have to forget the old way of doing things. The Start menu is gone and has been replaced by the Start screen. You may initially have difficulties locating all the usual tools and programs you are used to, but the search facility is the solution. Just start typing on the Start screen.

Search for apps - programs

As soon as you press a key, the screen changes to instantly display the results of the search. Type s and the Start screen tiles disappear and they are replaced by two panels. In the narrow one on the right is the search box below it is a list of search categories. The number of results in each category is displayed next to them. Apps is at the top of the category list and is selected by default, but clicking one of the other categories displays its results. It is not obvious, but there may be more categories than will fit on the screen. Move the mouse over the right panel and a scrollbar may appear on the right-hand edge of the screen.

Search for settings

Keep on typing and enter security. There aren't any apps that match this word, but clicking the settings category reveals a list of matches. In the screen shot you can see that there are 20 matches, but there certainly aren't 20 results listed in the left panel. Where are the rest?

Windows 8 search

To see all the search results you need to click in an empty part of the screen on the left. This hides the right-hand search panel. You will then see as many search results as will fit on the screen and the scroll bar at the bottom of the screen can be used if there are more.

If you aren't sure which item you want or just want more information, let the mouse hover over one. An information box is displayed next to the mouse. This can be very useful and you can see what part of Windows, such as the Action Center, that the the item belongs to. When you have found the one you want, just click it. To return to the Start screen just press the Start (Windows) key. To search for something else, change the text in the search box and click the magnifying glass.

Search for files

If you are searching for a file you will need to click Files in the category list on the right. All the matching items are displayed on the left. If some are images then small thumbnails are included. Let the mouse hover over a thumbnail and a larger one is displayed. Under it is the path to the file showing the folder it is in. This also helps you to locate the right file.

Windows search does not just look at the filenames and it looks inside documents at the text. So a search for 'Dear Bob' would display all the letters you have written to Bob Smith even though none of the filenames contain 'Dear Bob'.

Advanced Windows searches

There are some advanced search features in Windows 8 that aren't obvious. For example, you can search for a specific type of file, such as a document or image. At the Start screen, enter something like new york type:jpg to search for JPEG images with New York in the name.

Windows 8 search

You could use type:doc to search for documents, type:txt to search for text files and so on.

If the file is a small one then to only show small files in the results add size:small to the end of the search term. Other possibilities are size:tiny, size:medium, size:large, size:huge and size:gigantic. To find a file you saved yesterday use datemodified:yesterday. Other dates are earlier this week, last week, earlier this month, earlier this year and a long time ago. For example, to file called letter3.doc you wrote last week, you could enter letter datemodified:last week

When you type in these extra items, or filters as they are called, into the search box you need to click the magnifying glass to apply them to the results. Don't forget to select the Files category too.

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