I use a system of folders to track tasks and projects, and my projects are represented by folders whose names start with the "@" character. I'd like a way to populate a list of my projects, that is, to search for all subfolders containing "@" in their name. However, it appears that the search function in Explorer ignores "@" since when I search for it I get no results. Does anyone know how to force Windows to search for the @ character?

  • Actually, I unintentionally found a workaround. If I search for "+" (which is another special character I use in folder names coincidentally) it appears to generate a list of all subfolders, where the folders starting with "@" float to the top of the list since it's alphabetically first. It would still be nice to be able to do a proper search though. – DroidFreak36 Jun 19 '15 at 16:14
  • Possible duplicate of superuser.com/questions/172522/… – Matt Champion Jun 19 '15 at 16:16
  • @MattChampion That's probably related, but that didn't come up when I searched. – DroidFreak36 Jun 20 '15 at 16:42

How do I Search for folders containing “@” in their names

You can find all filenames containing @ using ~=@ for the search string.

~= is a special keyword that means contains.

Using keywords to refine a search

If you want to filter on a property that doesn't appear when you click in the search box, you can use special keywords. This typically involves typing a property name followed by a colon, sometimes an operator, and then a value. The keywords aren't case sensitive.

Example search terms


Files whose names begin with "notes." The ~< means "begins with."

System.FileName:="quarterly report"

Files named "quarterly report." The = means "matches exactly."


Files whose names contain the word "pro" or the characters pro as part of another word (such as "process" or "procedure"). The ~= means "contains."


Files that aren't pictures. The <> means "is not."


Files that were modified on that date. You can also type "System.DateModified:2010" to find files changed at any time during that year.


Files whose authors don't have "herb" in their name. The ~! means "doesn't contain."


Files that are tagged with the word sunset.


Files that are less than 1 MB in size.


Files that are more than 1 MB in size.


You can use a question mark (?) as a wildcard for a single character and an asterisk (*) as a wildcard for any number of characters.

Source Advanced tips for searching in Windows

  • Thanks, "name:~=@" works. I wonder why that isn't documented anywhere. In fact, neither is the behavior of the @ and + characters, both of which seem to be special characters for the search function. – DroidFreak36 Jun 20 '15 at 2:43
  • See updated answer for official documentation. It's the ~ and ~= that are special. The @ is what you are searching for. Please feel free to accept my answer. – DavidPostill Jun 20 '15 at 8:14
  • Well, "@" and "+" are special characters too in some sense because they have different behavior than ordinary characters (such as "h" or "v"). In particular, "+" seems to have some sort of undocumented special behavior since it matches all folders, including ones that have no "+" in their name, and the ones that do have "+" in their names don't have it highlighted like they do if I search for a normal character. – DroidFreak36 Jun 20 '15 at 16:47
  • @DroidFreak36 From some tests here @ and + by themselves in the search box will match all files in the current directory and files in all subdirectories (to any depth). – DavidPostill Jun 20 '15 at 17:21

Shift & right click over top folder holding them all, then pick:

Context Menu

Then type the following line, followed by Enter:

dir /s/b/ad *@*


dir /s/b/ad *@* > @list.txt

to save results.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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