Software & AppsOperating System

How To Search for Files


As operating systems continue to evolve, highlighting speed and efficiency and producing more user-friendly and user-engaging features, we can achieve more in less time and at a cheetah’s pace. Ironically, this means that we can quickly lose track of our files, pictures, and documents amongst the large volume of data we have and use.

Fortunately, we took the time to write a short tutorial on finding files on various operating systems, and it will only take a couple of minutes of your time.

Windows 11, Windows 10, and Windows 8

To search for a file on your Windows 11, Windows 10, or Windows 8, here’s how to go about it.

  1. Open your Start menu by pressing the Windows key.
  2. Type the name of the file you want to find in the search bar.
  3. In the search results, click the “Apps“, “Documents“, or “Web section” headers to see files that match your search query.
  4. Click the “More” section header (C) and select the category that fits your search criteria.
  5. Click on the file you want and open it.

You can use the arrow keys to navigate the section headers you want to view and press Enter on your keyboard to open it.

Windows Vista and Windows 7

To search for a file on Windows Vista and Windows 7, do this.

  1. Click Start to open the Start menu. It is usually located at the leftmost part of the taskbar.
  2. Partially or fully type the search item in the search text box. It is usually located at the bottom of the Start menu.
  3. Navigate the “Documents” or “Files” section header in the search results to explore the list that matches your search criteria. 
  4. Double-click the file to open it, or right-click and select “Open file location” to go to the file folder.

Using Windows File Explorer

  1. Open File Explorer from the taskbar or by right-clicking on the start menu, then choosing “File Explorer“.
  2. In the left panel, select the appropriate file location; For instance, “This PC” to search in all devices and drives on your computer or “Documents” to look only for files stored there.
  3. Move your cursor to the search bar at the top-right corner and left-click inside the bar.
  4. Partially or fully type the file name you are looking for and press Enter.

While it might take some time, Windows Explorer will query the files on your search location to give you your result.

Using your windows explorer, you can also search for files by date created or modified

Open your Windows File Explorer and type any of the listed date-related parameters before your search query.

  • “Date”.
  • “Date modified”.
  • “Date accessed”.
  • “Dat created”.
  • “Date taken”.


There are two ways to search for a file on your MacBook or Mac OS device.

Method #1: Using Finder

  1. By default, the Finder window is always open on your MAC; if you can’t find the window, open Finder by clicking on the Finder icon (a blue and white face) in the Dock at the bottom of your screen. 
  2. Partially or fully type the file name you are looking for in the search box. It is located at the top-right corner of the Finder window.
  3. As you type, a “Name Matches” drop-down will appear. If what you are looking for is in the list, you can choose the file; if not, hit Enter or Return to search.

If you don’t remember the exact name you saved your file with, you can also use Finder to search by date.

  1. In the search bar, type out the month and year you want to search (e.g., January 2022). 
  2. Select the date option in the drop-down menu to search for that month.
  3. In the results, navigate to choose the file you are looking for. Double-click to open it, or right-click and select “Show in Enclosing Folder” to access the file location.

Finder will search by date in the folder you had opened before you queried your search. If you don’t have a folder open before your query, the search will work in This Mac, which will search all your computer. So, if you are searching for a file in a particular folder, open it in your Finder window before you query your search.

Method #2: Using Mac Spotlight Search

  1. Open Spotlight by clicking the magnifying glass icon in the top-right corner of your Mac’s screen.
  2. Partially or fully type the name of your search item in the box in the field that pops up.
  3. Choose your file in the search result window. Double-click to open the file, or right-click and select “Show in Enclosing Folder” to go to the file location.

When you query your search, Spotlight will show the most relevant results – files, folders, documents, and even the definition of your search term – on the search result window. It also displays websites related to your search item, making it easy to find a website quickly.

iPad and iPhone

If you are looking for a file on your iOS, here’s how to go about it.

  1. Go to your device’s Home Screen.
  2. On your Home Screen, swipe left from edge to edge (with the left edge as the starting point).
  3. Type the file name in the search at the top of the screen.
  4. Tap the search button and choose the file you want from the list of results.

Android Phones and Tablets

On the Android operating system, you can search for a file through the following steps.

  1. Open the Settings menu.
  2. Scroll down to select “Storage“.
  3. Tap “Files” or “File manager“.
  4. Locate the search bar in your File Manager to query your search, or navigate through your file directory to locate your desired files.


This tutorial has explored how you can search for your files on various computer and mobile device operating systems in easy steps.

With this guide, you no longer have to stress over looking for your files when you forget where you saved or copied them. We hope we’ve been able to answer all your questions about searching files, and you now quickly locate your file on any of your devices.

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