I'm stumped as to how the search function is Windows 8 File Explorer is supposed to work.

I'm trying to search the content of some text files under a sub-folder of My Documents. In File Explorer (from the desktop) I've typed the search string in the search box. No results. I know that multiple files in the sub-folder contain the text I'm looking for; I opened a couple just to check.

I then went into the Advanced options on the File Explorer Search Tools ribbon bar, ticked File contents, then repeated the search. No results.

I then Googled the problem, which suggested I should index the folder containing the files I wanted to search. So I went into the Search Tools ribbon bar > Advanced options again, and clicked on Change indexed locations. I discovered that all the sub-folders of My Documents are being indexed already (and I double-checked that particular sub-folder was being indexed).

I thought perhaps the text I was searching for, "import" (without the quotes), might have been a reserved word or something so I tried searching for other text I knew appeared in multiple files, "datetime". Still no results.

Any ideas about what I'm doing wrong and how to get file content search working?

  • 5
    I have exactly the same problem. It's a real pitty that Microsoft decided to break such a core functionality. Searching file content was so easy in previous Windows versions and now it's harder than rocket science. Windows 8 sucks big time :(. – Michael Härtl Aug 27 '14 at 8:45

You could try this :

In Explorer

1- Menu View
2- Click Options
3- Click Search tab
4- Select "Always search file name and contents"
5- Click "OK"

| improve this answer | |

Agreed, MS broke something that worked. But try this in the search window adjacent to the file path window. The following searches all .docx files for the string 'fish'.

*.docx content:fish

I haven't figured out how to make it case sensitive or whole words only but better than nothing. I am sure there are other arguments besides 'content' like 'date', 'size' but haven't found the list.

Works for Windows8, not sure about Windows10

| improve this answer | |
  • Still doesn't work perfectly for me. I tried – SimonTewsi Jan 28 '18 at 20:59
  • [whoops, hit Enter too soon] Still doesn't really work for me. I tried content:datetime which returned 1 hit where there should have been many more. I then searched with PowerShell Get-ChildItem in the same folder tree which returned 13 hits. The single hit was in a sub-folder, not the root folder of the search, so Windows wasn't just searching the root folder and not sub-folders. I did notice the single hit was in an XML document whereas all other files in the tree were PowerShell files (.ps1, .psm1, .psd1). I then tried *.ps1 content:datetime but that returned 0 hits. – SimonTewsi Jan 28 '18 at 21:11

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.