When using a new Windows 8 search bar:

search bar

What is the syntax of the search expression? Is it possible to use wildcards like "*", "?" or any other special symbol?

For example, when searching with Google i can use:

  • '-' (minus) for excluding certain words;
  • "quoted phrase" for exact phrase matching.

3 Answers 3


Windows 8 has a number of search features.

It supports two wildcards.

*   match anything
?   match any character

You can search by:

  • file extension

  • date

    Date:This week
  • type

  • filesize

  • author

    Author:="Joe Bloggs"

More information at: http://www.tomsitpro.com/articles/windows_8_search-indexing_files-windows_explorer_ribbon-advanced_query_syntax,2-228-2.html

  • Whoa! Now I can increase my Search-Fu within Windows 8. Nov 1, 2012 at 18:30

You can still search using the Advanced Query Syntax.

I recommend reading the article because there are a lot of features.

Here are some of the boolean operators: AQS Boolean Operators


I guess you should be able to use the same wildcard codes that were usable in Windows 7 since the "type to search" feature is nearly identical in both. Here's a link that describes some of the codes. It describes wildcards and search codes.


An extract from the site


This option has been with us since the earliest days of DOS and Windows and consists of two wildcards: ‘?’ and ‘’ (without the single quote marks). The simplest explanation to what the two different wildcards do boils down to this: the ‘?’ means one character appears here and the ‘’ can stand for any number of characters – letters or numbers.

So if you are using the ‘?’ and you are searching for a file that you know part of the name of your query could look like this fo??t which would return any file that started with fr and ended with a ‘t’ but only had two unknown letters in the middle. In this case the file foxit could be one of the search results.

When using the ‘*’ as part of the search term it is best to use it either at the beginning of the word – it – or in the middle – ft – in either case the file named foxit would be returned as part of the results. As for using the ‘*’ wildcard at the end of the search term there isn’t much of a point because Windows search always acts like there is a wildcard at the end.

Search Codes

The one thing about the way I usually end up doing searches is that I typically end up with way more results than I really need. The way around this happening is to use search shortcuts – or codes – to further refine what you are searching for.

The simplest of these is the document types short codes. For example you are searching for a specific image but you forget its name but remember that it is a JPEG (jpg) image. In this case you can use the following short codes to refine your search

ext: .jpg
fileext: .jpg
extension: .jpg
filextension: .jpg

UPDATE: Also check out this site: http://www.7tutorials.com/basics-making-advanced-searches-wildcards-and-filters

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