File Explorer — the default file manager in Windows — features a handy search box you can take advantage of to find certain files in case you forgot where you stored them. You can simply type the keyword on the search box and hit enter and File Explorer will present you the files you are looking for if the files are exist.

There is a way to get the most out of the search feature on Windows File Explorer. If you have some clues regarding the files you are looking for, like the size or file type, File Explorer recognizes some keywords you can take advantage of to filter the files.

The filters below have been tested on Windows 10, but they should also work on other Windows versions.

1. Filter files by extension

Windows File Explorer allows you to sort the files by file extension. This is handy if you want to work with several files with the same extension. But, it only applies if you know where you stored the files. If you forgot, you can use the search box on File Explorer to filter the files on your hard drive by file extension. To do so, you can use *.fileExtension filter. Replace “fileExtension” with the extension of the file you are looking for. For instance, if you are looking for a PDF file, you can type *.PDF in the search box. The asterisk symbol before the file extension is known as wildcard. It will ignore the filename. Meaning that it will display all PDF files stored in your hard drive. If you can remember the part of the file name you are looking for, simply add it right before the wildcard.

2. Filter files by size

File Explorer also allows you to filter the files by size, but again it won’t handy enough if you forgot the path of the folder where you stored the files you are looking for. You can filter the files by size by typing size: fileSize on the File Explorer search box. Replace “fileSize” with the actual size of the files you are looking, 250MB for instance. If you forgot the actual size of the files you are looking for, you can also use greater than (>) and less than (<) signs. For instance, to filter files larger than 1GB you can type size: >1GB.

File Explorer itself has some pre-defined conditions which will shows up when you type size: on the search box.

3. Filter files by size date

Every digital file contains an information regarding the creation date. If you can remember when did you create the files you are looking for, it can be way easier to find them. You can filter the files by date in File Explorer using date: keyword. You can use this keyword to find files created before, on or after certain date. You can use the “>” and “<” signs to find files created after or before the given date. “>=” and “<=” also apply here. While you can manually type the date, File Explorer provides a simple calendar that will show up every time you type date: on the search box.

4. Filter files by kind of file

Say you downloaded an image yesterday. Unfortunately, you can’t remember the extension of that file. Whether JPG or PNG. Sadly again, you can’t also remember where you stored it. In this case, you can use the “kind” keyword. This keyword helps you filtering the files on your hard drive by the kind of file. For instance, if you type kind:=picture, File Explorer will display picture files from a wide range of extensions. From JPG, PNG, PSD, ICO and so on. There are several kind of files recognized by File Explorer and fortunately you don’t have to remember every single of them. Immediately after typing kind: on the search box, File Explorer will display the list of of the kind of files it recognizes on a dropdown menu.

5. Filter files using operators

In addition to four keywords above, you can also use operators to filter files in File Explorer. There are three operators offered by File Explorer: AND, OR and NOT.

  • AND: Used to filter the files that satisfy both search filters. Example: *.JPG AND size: >10MB will show all the image files with the extension of JPG larger than 10MB.

  • OR: Used to filter the files that satisfy at least one parameter. Example: typing crack OR face in the search box will display files that have the word “crack” or “face” in their name.

  • NOT: Used to exclude an item on the search filter. Example: typing crack NOT face in the search box will display files that have the word “crack” in their name and ignore the word “face”.


Before applying one of the keywords above, make sure you are on “This PC” if you really have no idea where you stored the files you are looking for so that File Explorer will scan the entire hard drive on your computer.

Just for your information that every filtering you are performing can take seconds or minutes depending on the size of the hard drive installed on your computer and how many files you have on it.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here