Creating documents is easy. Finding them on your PC a couple of years later, however, is a differentmatter. Previous versions of Windows had a basic search for locating files and documents, but it was limited. Now Windows Vista has a search facility nearly everywhere you look, and the searches themselves are far more thorough, tracking down programs and emails as well as files, and using tags (keywords) to identify items. Vista also creates something called an index, which monitors the contents of folders to speed up searches. Here, we’ll describe some of the new ways of searching, as well as demonstrate how to customise the Windows index to suit your needs. In addition, we’ll describe techniques for improving your searches to get better results, and explain how to save them for future use.
The most obvious change to searching inWindows Vista is that searches can be made directly from the Start Menu. This becomes useful as more software is installed and the Start Menu becomes more complex. In Windows XP you usually had to navigate through numerous menus. Not so with Windows Vista. Simply click on the Start button and begin typing. For example, type notepad and Vista will display a link for the program Notepad almost instantly. After a slight pause, it will show other documents that include the word ‘notepad’ in the title or inside the document if it contains text. If the tag ‘notepad’ has been assigned to files (such as digital music or photos), these will appear, too.
Searching via the Start Menu is fine if you have a good idea of what you are looking for, but search results will disappear as soon as a result is clicked. It is possible to do the search again, but this is not ideal if youwant to browse the results. With a more experimental search, it is better to use Windows Explorer. To search the contents of your User folder, for example, click on Start and then on Timothy (where ‘Timothy’ is the name of the user who is logged in). In the Explorerwindowthat opens you’ll find a search box in the topright corner. Click in this box and type what you want to search for.
Both of these methods (Tips 1 and 2) are rather general in their approach; more specific results can be achieved by using the Search tool. Click on Start and then on Search. The Search box is in exactly the same place as in the Windows Explorer window. Type the search term and press Enter. The results can be filtered by clicking on the row of buttons below the search box to show only emails, documents, pictures, music and so on. More information about the files that have been found can be seen by clicking once on the file. A summary of the file is shown at the bottom of the window.
Vista creates an index of files to reduce the time taken by searches. If you have started keeping files in a different folder, include this folder in the indexing process. Go to Start > Control Panel > System and Maintenance > Indexing Options. Click on the Modify button and Continuewhen the User Account Control (UAC) window appears. Click on ‘Show all locations’, then on Continue in the UAC window. Click on the small arrow next to Local Disk (C:) to see the folders on the hard disk. Click in the box so a tick appears to add a folder to
the indexing process. It may take some time to include the files in the index, as this happens when the computer is idle.
Double quotation marks can help to refine a search. For example, “Goodbye Stranger” will only give results containing that exact phrase. You can also use AND and NOT. So, a search for ‘Supertramp AND Logical’ (without quotes) would find files with both terms, and ‘Supertramp NOT Breakfast’ would find all files with Supertramp except those containing Breakfast. You can also search for music files with terms such as ‘artist:Supertramp’ or ‘genre:rock’. Photos can be searched with terms such as ‘datetaken:6/08/2006’. A list of search terms can be found at www.tinyurl.com/22yn7f.
One new search feature in Vista is the option to save searches. An example might be searching for all the music by a particular artist, rather than by album or genre. The location of the search is saved too, even though the searches themselves are kept in one place. To save a search, follow Step 3, then click on the Save Search button. Give the search a name and click on Save. To find the saved searches, click on Start, then on your username. In the Explorer window that opens, click on the small arrow to the right of the username in the address bar and then on Searches. A list of all the saved searches appears in the main part of the window. Double-click on the search you require to run it again.