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It looks like Explorer search treats quotation marks like Google search's exact match where a search for "foo bar" ignores results like "bar the foo" so you only get results like "the foo bar."

But having hyphens like foo-bar confuses it.

For example, in a folder with these contents:

enter image description here

Filename-only search does not work correctly:

enter image description here

Nor does contents-only search:

enter image description here

How can I use Windows Explorer search to behave consistently? Abandon it for the Command Prompt?

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  • You might try a third-party tool, such as indexed DocFetcher, or real-time Agent Ransack. Both offer regexp for filenames, but AgentRansack uses regexp (and other criteria) for searching contents. Aug 19 '19 at 17:18
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For filenames, Query Operators can offer some help: name:~~"foo-bar" should give you the results you want: enter image description here

But content search doesn't seem as well behaved. Created two files, one with content "foo-bar", the other with content "foo bar". The following attempts returned both files:

content:"foo-bar"
content:$$"foo-bar"

While content:~~"foo-bar" returned none!

So, for accurae content searching, I would go with PowerShell and the Select-String cmdlet:

enter image description here

There's definitely a learning-curve, but with support for regular expressions, it's a very powerful tool.

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