Trying to find specific files on your Windows 10 PC can sometimes be like trying to find your car keys. Technology has not yet reached the point where we can desire something, and it happens. Instead, we have to manually search for lost or forgotten files.
Fortunately, there are a few more advanced methods you can use to find files that you simply cannot remember the location of. These methods will require you to do a bit of work on your memory receptors, but with these search tools the whole task of finding lost files will become much less complicated.
Initiate the search for Windows 10 lost files
We’ll be using a range of Windows 10 advanced search tools to keep track of your files, as well as step-by-step questions you can follow. The more you know about your file, the easier it is to find it.
By the end of this guide, you will have a list of customizable search parameters that you can enter depending on how many questions you answered to help track your file.
Before we start, we need to quickly check your browser’s download history. Have you downloaded the files you are looking for on the Internet? In this case, you can go to your internet browser and press Ctrl + J to open your downloads folder.
Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge have search functionality built into your download history, so there may be a much faster way to find your files on startup.
You can choose to search by name or file type. For example, if you knew it was an .mp3 file, searching for the .mp3 might return relevant results.
If that doesn’t work, or if you know you downloaded the file from outside the Internet, it’s time to explore our advanced search tools in Windows 10.
First, let’s start at the root of the problem – determining which disk your file was saved on. If you don’t know where the file was saved, you will need to do a system-wide search, which can take a long time for your computer depending on how many drives you have.
Open Windows Explorer by pressing Windows Key + E and navigate to that computer on the left.
Then double-click the drive if you know it, otherwise stay on the This PC page.
Advanced Windows 10 search tools to find lost files
Now that we are in the correct directory, let’s get started. Here’s how this tutorial will work. We will ask you a series of questions. If you know the answer to this question, we will provide an appropriate search filter for it.
By the end of the tutorial, you will have a very well tuned search.
After each step, add search to the search bar on the Windows Explorer tab in the directory of your choice.
Do you know when the file was created?
- Date search filter can help you find files quickly. For example, if you know the exact date, enter
Creation date: dd / mm / yyyy
- You can also use date ranges, for example type
datecreated: dd / mm / yyyy . dd / mm / yyyy
- If you don’t know a specific date or date range, you can also use specific months or years. For example
date of creation: October 2019
If you are unable to track your file after using the date range filter, please follow the next step below.
Do you know the file type?
Do you remember what type of file you have? This can help you fine tune your search.
- For example, was it a .jpg file? In this case, you can add .jpg to your search. Just insert the file type right after the creation date: search filter, if you have one.
- You can do this for all file types. For example, generic files might include .jpg, .mp4, or .docx, while fancy files might include .gnut, .bik, or .vpk. All of these files can still be searched for in Windows Explorer.
- If you don’t know the specific file extension, you can add another search option related to the file type. For example, if you know this is a video, you can enter view: video in the search box.
If you’re not sure what type your file is, it’s best to avoid it entirely.
When you enter kind: into the search box, you also get a dropdown box where you can select the file type.
Do you know part of the filename? H4>
At this point, you should have a search by both date range and file type, and this should give you much fewer results to search for. The next step is to enter part of the file name.
- For example, if you think the word “game” is in a file name, typing “game” will return all files with that name in the name.
As you can see, we have narrowed down the search quite significantly so far. Even if the filename is a collection of random numbers or letters, typing in any sequence you can remember can help you.
If you still can’t find your file at this point, it may be harder to find. Are you 100% sure the file was saved? Has it been removed? Or maybe the file is saved on another PC?
Alternatively, if this was called something unclear, it might be time to dig deeper. It is always best to use correct naming procedures in the future. Finding files in Windows 10 can be very fast if you only know part of the file name.
If you need even finer search filters and know more detailed information about the file, you can go further. In fact, if you look at the properties of any file, you will find a list of attributes, most of which are searchable. You can also add custom data and tags for further search.