How To Search File Contents In Windows

Last Updated: October 3, 2018

We often forget the file name/title or location after we read, store or create something on our PC. But if you remember some of the words or text inside the file, finding the file becomes easy. We have already written about searching files faster on Windows. Windows allows users to search for content inside a file using a shortcut or from ‘Start Search’ which is replaced with Cortana in Windows 10. In this article, we will mention three ways to search file contents in Windows PC easily for any type of file – Word, PDF, text etc.

Search For Text Inside Files On Windows PC

On Windows 10, sometimes you can find the file by just inserting text or sentences into the search bar at the top right side. But it does not work most of the times. So here is the better option:

1. Open your File Explorer and go to the folder where you think your file is located. For example, Download, Documents, Local Disk (E:) (F:) etc.

2. Click on the search bar at the top right corner.

search file contents windows 10

3. Type ‘content:‘ in the search bar. (Don’t forget the colon)

search contents of files windows 7

4. Now type the content you are searching in front of ‘content:’. Example ‘content: River Bhogwa‘.

Search File Contents In Windows

You will see the file(s) that carry the content you are searching in just a second. Click on the file and explore your content.

In any case, if you don’t reach to the desired file this way, you can use another method given below:

How To Search File Contents In Windows 10 Quickly

1. Click on ‘Cortana search‘ at the bottom left of your screen.

windows 8 search file contents

2. Type the words of the content you are searching for. You will see all the suggestions for web searches. Ignore it and tap on the ‘Documents icon‘ at the top of Cortana.

windows file content search

5. You will find your file. Click on the file to view the content.

search file content shortcut windows

To make the steps shorter, directly type ‘Documents:‘ followed by content words in the Cortana. For example, type ‘Documents: Microfinance institutions‘ and the files containing that text will be displayed.

Now, there are many file types that the Windows search does not show usually. Like when you search for content that might be in PDF files, you will not see any PDF files in the search results because of the default settings of the Windows. Here is the method to search file contents in Windows for all file types including the content in PDF files.

How To Enable Advanced Content Search For All Files In Windows

1. Click on the ‘Start Search‘ or ‘Cortana Search‘ at the bottom left side of your PC and type ‘Indexing options’.

2. Click on the ‘Indexing options‘ in the search result.

windows advanced file search - content

3. Click on ‘Advanced‘.

windows 10 advanced search

4. Then click on ‘File Types‘ at the top.

windows advanced search file contents

5. In the ‘File Types’, Choose ‘Index properties and File Contents‘ and then click on ‘OK‘.

windows advanced indexing options

6. You file indexing for quicker search will start. When the indexing is finished, close that window and search whatever content you need.

Now, there are chances that you still won’t find the content on PDF files. This is because the PDF iFilter might be missing from your PC. It will show ‘Registered IFilter is not found‘ in the Filter Description for PDF. I faced the same problem. Here is what you should do about it.

After the 4th step mentioned above, uncheck ‘PDF’ from file types and then follow step 5.

windows search file contents not working

Now, download and install PDF iFilter 64 from Adobe downloads. When it is installed, close the indexing window and begin once again from the 1st step. Make sure the ‘PDF’ is checked this time in file types.

After the indexing is completed, you will be able to search content on PDF files too.

We are sure these methods will help you in finding your files quickly. If you face any problem regarding content or file search, let us know in the comments.


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