James O'Neill's Blog

February 23, 2009

How to use Advanced Queries in Windows search.

Filed under: Beta Products,Desktop Productivity,How to,Windows 7 — jamesone111 @ 4:57 pm

If there was one single feature about Windows Vista which made me say “I’m never ever going back to Windows XP” it was search and the way search was integrated everywhere.  True you can download Microsoft Search for Windows XP (and , as they say other kinds of desktop search are available) but it doesn’t permeate everywhere the way it does in Vista. In Windows 7 the search has got better still, with one important exception which I will come to in a moment.

Click for full size version

On the left you can see the result of typing in the search box ,and as you can see the search results are grouped by type. If you click on one of the of the titles it shows you just the matches of that type. However if you click “See more results” you get everything.

imageIt so happens I was looking for copies of my invoices from Virgin media which I know are in my inbox. The problem I have is I automatically go to “see more results”, and in any event you can see that there are a lot of other things in outlook – mostly from my news feed – about what Virgin group are doing. Click through to More Results and, if you’re used to vista’s search you’ll see we’ve lost something. In Vista this box had buttons to select different kinds of content. In Windows 7 it has gone …


However , you can use the Advanced Query Syntax (AQS) and boy is there a lot of it. Type Kind: and you get a list to choose from. Type size: you get some classifications, type: date: you get a calendar and bands of dates, isAttachment and HasAttachement let you pick yes or no. And a quick read of the AQS page shows there is a whole lot more you can enter. Helpfully when you enter a valid field name with the colon (:) after it it turns blue , an an invalid one stays back. 

Now I doubt if anyone is going to remember every single option for AQS – and since it narrows the search down it is sometimes going to be quicker to scroll through the search than find out the way to narrow it down. Still I’m a great believer that we all use our own subsets of the available functionality, so have a look at what you  can do, make use of the bits that help you and forget the rest.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: