Windows 7: Find/Search Files By Date And Size

Almost week back we wrote a post explaining how to search for files before a specified date in Windows 7. Today we are going to cover it in a bit more details. What if you want to search for files that are newer than a defined date? Windows 7 advanced search can help us narrow down the search both quickly and easily.

There are two parts, you can either search by file date or file size. Both are helpful in narrowing down to the exact files that are needed. What most users don’t know is that you can use less-than(<) or greater than(>) signs in Windows Explorer Search.

Search By Date

To search between any two dates, click the first date and drag the mouse to the second date. It will become:

datemodified:[first date] .. [second date]

search between two dates

To search for files before or after a specific date, use the operators < or > before the date. They will become:

datemodified:<[date]     (To search for files before a date)

datemodified:>[date]     (To search for files after a date)

where [date] is any date. Note that there should be no spaces between operators, signs, and the date.


date modified

Search By File Size

By default it will show you a list of choices to choose from but sadly there is no way to customize these choices. It might require hacking of registry.

Search by sizeTo search for files that are greater or less than a file size, we will put < and > before the file size. They will become:

size:<100MB  (Search for all files that are less than 100MB)

size:>100MB   (Search for all files that are greater than 100MB)

you can use either KB, MB, or GB. You can also use decimals, such as, 1.5MB.

size less than

The above mentioned search operators can be used in Windows Vista as well. I am not sure if they would work with Windows XP too.

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  • fatings

    I just hate Win7's search… :(

  • Steve

    I totally agree, its so unintuitive
    Steve

  • Razi

    Search is the worst in Win7. MS should incorporate XP search in win7 in the next patch

  • Razi

    Search is the worst in Win7. MS should incorporate XP search in win7 in the next patch

  • Razi

    Search is the worst in Win7. MS should incorporate XP search in win7 in the next patch

  • Gig

    Wow, I am ever sorry I bought Windows 7. I came straight from XP and it has been a shock how bad the user interface is.

    • HAM

      I actually don’t mind it now that im used to it.. Everytime i go to an xp computer i get confused X_X

  • Hymie

    No way to install the XP search in 7?

  • Donit

    Agreed, it's completely pathetic.

  • William

    I agree with comments Win 7 search is horrible it's typical MS to totally screw up something that should be so very simple. So much for Win 7 being “designed by users I THINK NOT!

  • kdc

    Totally agree with! Thanks for the tips

  • Tom

    Windows 7 “search” sucks!

    I downloaded some Limewire AVIs and now I can’t find them.

  • T Ron

    And the funny thing is Microsoft is wanting to compete with Google on search technology!

    How many years has MS been working on search and it is still unusable! Even searching on the Microsoft site, try searching on Technet, etc. You never find what you are looking for.

    But type what you are looking for in Google, and it actually finds it quicker and better, even though you are looking for something from Microsoft, on the Microsoft site!!!

  • Delec

    What a regress.
    W2K had better search than Win7. What am I talking about, Win98 already did.
    Unless I just could not find it, there is now no more option to search through all the files in a folder and show me the ones containing a certain string, if those files are email, but they are not outlook emails.
    So typical M$ !!!
    One more reason for me and my customers to stay as far away from any of their products and services as you reasonably can.

  • Steve Austin

    I’ve been using MS Windows since 1991 and the Windows 7 user interface is shockingly bad.

    The Windows 95/98/XP “Start Menu” was not broken, yet it has been “fixed” with a horrendous scrolling/search box nightmare. And good luck creating a shortcut to your favorite files, too (such as MonthlyBills.xls).

    Anyway, the way to fix file searching in Windows 7 is to realize there is no file searching in Windows 7.

    Simply install a file searching application, such as FileLocator (also known as Agent Ransack):

    http://www.mythicsoft.com/page.aspx?type=agentransack&page=home

    They have 64-bit and 32-bit versions, and it’s freeware.

    After install, you will then be able to right-click a folder, and search by filename, file content, and date range. What a concept!

  • Steve Austin

    FileLocator / Agent Ransack will also use multiple threads to run a search. My status bar says “Searching (8 threads)”.

    Cool.

  • bm89

    What you want is the Advanced Search. You can access the Advanced Search several ways.
    1) Click and hold the Windows Start Menu Flag on your keyboard and then press “F”. OR
    2) Click the Window Start Menu Flag on your computer (lower left screen 4 colors) Then select Search > All Files (Should be the 3rd menu item from the bottom)
    3) In the typical Windows Explorer window enter globble-d-gook in the Search box in the upper right corner such as dsfkl;asdfjd. It shows No items match your search and then you can access “Advanced Search”.

    Unbelievable…..what have they done?

    • Joihn

      mate – you make no sense there is no such thing as search in the start menu

  • Charles

    Wow, NOT one comment praising Win 7’s search, yet MyCockSoft refuse to fix it… typical.

    At this point I’d be happy to see that frickin dog again… Never thought I’d say that!!

    Designed by users??? Designed by ‘ppl who don’t have a clue about their’ users more like it…

  • Bradley

    I guess I’m the exception here, but I love Windows 7’s search features almost entirely! It’s so quick and easy, no more navigating through annoying drop downs to search All Files, or specific file sizes or file extensions! It’s GREAT! The only reason I can see why people would dislike it is because they’re old and resistant to change, or just aren’t willing enough to learn a few simple keywords.

    It’s powerful and it’s fast, even with Indexing turned off system-wide.

    My one gripe is how it handles right-clicking on a folder in a Search Results window and click ‘Open in New Window’ and you get a new window with a garbled search path like this: “search-ms:displayname=Search%20Results%20in%20Desktop&crumb=location:C%3A%5CUsers%5CDragoon%5CDesktop\aiw”

    So I simply wrote my own program that adds itself to my context menu directly beneath that, problem solved!

    And for everyone complaining about how bad you think it is, just try to learn a little. It’s GREAT! I can search for all my RAR files over 150MBs in just a few keystrokes: “.rar -!ut size >150MB” This searches for the string .rar in all files, ‘-!ut’ disqualifies any results containing !ut in them (Incomplete torrent files, for example), and then the Size is obvious.

    • Daniel S.

      “The only reason I can see why people would dislike it is because they’re old and resistant to change, or just aren’t willing enough to learn a few simple keywords.”

      Well that’s mighty elitist of you. Have you considered that the Search feature should work for the average user — one who is not a programmer? I understand that a bang (or exclamation point) means “not” in programming, but should the search utility in the world’s most obiquitous OS require programming knowledge? I don’t think so. This is not Lin/Unix; Windows 7’s features should be easy to use for the average person.

      I found this thread while looking for a way to show some “advanced” features. Specifically, I’d like to look through my music files and display all MP3s for which the Comments value is not empty. Eventually, I think I’ll find some “!null” command… (at least I hope so!)… but the typical user is not going to find Search in Windows 7 very helpful, and they’re certainly not going to “simply wrote [their] own program” to assist them in getting the results they desire. And for that reason, Windows 7’s Search is crap.

      -D

      • JohnB

        I am an average user. I still have not figured out how to search by date in wi*ndows 7. It was easy in xp and 2000.

    • Joihn

      yes but you are having to type all that crap into the box, this a a step backwards from drop down menus in xp search parameters. your little example takes about 20 times the effort of a drop down advanced search.

      Windowws 7 just seems to be making users have to do more it is not simple one stroke solutions YOU MAY AS WELL GO BACK TO “BASIC”

      And you think this is progress???

    • Jerry Bryan

      For those of you who love Windows 7 search, please explain how to search for all files whose file name contains the string “abc” (without the quotes) and whose content contains the string “xyz” (without the quotes).

      It strikes me that Windows 7 search has two fatal flaws: 1) it doesn’t seem to want to search for strings, but rather for “words” that are delimited by spaces or other white space characters, and 2) it doesn’t distinguish between searching for file names and file contents.

      I’m not trying to be argumentative. I’m truly wanting to understand how to run effective searches in Windows 7. I’m very flexible and I am very willing to change and adapt. And I would describe myself as a very expert user. But until either Windows 7 search changes or until my understanding of Windows 7 search changes, I’m using a free third party search tool with Windows 7 instead of the built-in Windows 7 search.

      • Michael

        Type *xyz* OR *abc*

  • Wallace

    I have photos in a folder that were taken by different cameras. Does anyone know whether jpg files can be searched by camera used? Or who could I ask?
    Thanks

  • Karen Schmidt

    ARe you kidding me!!!! a freakin tutorial on how to search for just a file??????

  • eric

    how do we search for a file on my computer without it search inside every file? Damn Microsoft. A simple search takes forever now. Windows 7 SUX the big one.

  • Moniki

    Very nice tutorial. But Windows 7 has inherent problems with its search mechanism. I would wish they reverted to their Windows XP search engine – worked well. I have seen suggestion to install a third party program from some site – I think “voidtools” – I don’t remember the name clearly. This tool is supposed to work better than windows 7’s inbuilt search system.

    • JayTee

      Windows 7 search is driving me nuts! Whoever redesigned it needs to actually use it. How complicated can it be to search specific file types (e.g. all *.log files), that contain a specific string? I don’t want to turn on the always search content either. I want a simple search of log files containing a specific string. This was so easy in XP. MS missed the mark on this one, and it’s going to make my job of selling Windows 7 to my user community that much harder.

  • razor

    ah for all noobs it is easy just like eat a sandwich. if u do programming in C++ u will probably face to freaking codes than you ever realized.

  • Nick

    My old computer with XP died 5 days ago so I have now ended up with Win 7 x64. The file search facililty is truly *abysmal*.The pits. What happened to the mantra of ‘continuous improvement’. Maybe if I became adept at boolean logic with string functions etc etc. The XP version was so much simpler and it worked. What about the old adage ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’? Anyway I’ve installed Ransack as suggested by Steve Austin. It’s blindingly fast by comparison. But should we really have to? I’m amazed that this thread has been running over 12 months and still MS hasn’t responded. Says something I think.

  • Mickey

    I find search mechanism on Windows Vista/7 insulting! You need to index (read: set a location) when you search for a file ?!!! That’s just simply stupid because I don’t know where the file is – I’m fucking searching it :) XP R.U.L.E.S.

  • aq

    just spent 20 mins trying to search between 09/08/2011 & 11/02/2011. how the hell do you drag across the months, ended up typing the dates in. dead simple in XP, this is crap. can’t understand anyone stating its better HOW????????????.

  • name

    Is it possible to search file contents for the string “5 hats”? As in, do not include every file that has “5” and “hats” in it, but only “5 hats”?

    Unix completely destroys Windows in search capabilities and flexibility…

  • name

    Holy hell, Agent Ransack was a great recommendation. Much more useful functions, and took seconds vs minutes to search through a large number of files/folders.

  • jaylenoh

    I agree that 7’s search sucks. cant even find it. I’ts in start menu with default settings, but I like classic. With that set, search is gone. Agent Ransack works – thanks! The reason things change for the worse is because these marketing assholes arent interested in what works, that’s not what sells, it’s what appears to work better because it LOOKS new that sells. XP was great, but they can’t stop making new versions, cause they’re chasing dollars. It’s all political and money driven, and we’re caught in the middle just wanting a product that works. Sorry for the rant, but something as simple as a search function in a OS is not exempt from ruin when it comes to micro$oft’s bullshit and greed. :)

  • DEVA

    I am new user for Windows 7. I am facing difficult in searching options. I could not find any options such date wise, text wise, etc., Can you help me to come over this problem. thank you

  • Atul

    thank you i learned alot from these tips and i think windows search is fine

  • BennyBeat

    Many thanks for the tips, very useful for me!!!

    For those all who want an easy Search app, then try ”Search Everything” from http://www.voidtools.com/

    ”Everything” is a search engine for Windows that, after indexing our system, they can quickly locate any file or folder in less than a second! Is a free and portable and tiny program (± 300kb). Also comes with ftp/http server inside (OMG!).

    Is available for Win2k, XP, 2003, Vista, 2008 and Windows 7. Also works on Windows 8.

    I’m not the creator or something like that; just a happy user…
    I hope this info can help someone unhappy with the default Win7 searcher!!!

    Cheers,
    Benny ^_^”

  • Ben

    If you want to find a file of a certain size, and you use the greater than & smaller than operators together, i.e. “size:>900KB <2MB" will this work, or do you need to use an AND (&) operator betwen them?

  • ML

    I hate it, hate it, hate it, hate it, hate it, hate it, hate it, hate it….!!!!! ARGGGHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Frank N. Sein

      XP makes much more sense and is way easier to use and learn than Windows 7. Yet, Microsoft insists on making its once-superior OS more Mac-like (I use both), dumbing down even the simplest components, like Search. Sadly, they are even giving up their edge on keyboard UI efficiency by making Explorer windows look like Web pages (Network and Sharing Center, for example, yuck!). So long efficiency–welcome slow and stupid.

  • http://profiles.google.com/wishbone234 Wish Bone

    Ridiculous…

  • Martin

    You just saved my life. Before reading this article I spent 2 hours trying to find an accounts spreadsheet I had spent 6 hours working on and was looking at redoing it all again.

    Thank you so much

  • andyf

    The command line is back…!!! Mwaahahahahahah….

  • JC

    YES.. downloaded AGENT RANSACK. Search problems over.
    No thanks to WINDOWS 7.

  • Hans Fremuth

    there is a new easy to use software for this called Filemind. Search is as easy as in Chrome, plus it has super easy to use filter tags to search by date.

  • etore

    How do I get started? You show a clip of a screen with the options, how do I get to that window?

  • Richard

    Instructions were worthless. How do you search for files created on a specific date, using Win7. In the old Win versions, you could click on the Search button and specific your parameters, including location, dates, etc. This instruction was worthless, did not say what to do after clicking cursor onto the search field in bottom left hand of wallpaper.

  • Bob

    When or when will windows have a search that works. When I search for date modified and provide a range it includes files that were modified before the range provide!

  • Guest

    i used the following and got the results i was looking for

    size:245 KB or kb
    size:> 230 kb < 245 kb

    make sure there is a space between the number and the kb, KB or mb, MB as windows explorer lists the size that way, and also between the signs. Hope that helps.

  • wallrider

    what if I’m searching something that contains ‘pollo’?