Find forgotten files faster

There are several options for finding a file -- a few of which you might not have tried before.

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Like other Windows platforms, Windows 2000 gives you several ways to locate a file. Maybe you're looking for a report you need to finish, maybe it's a missing application file, or maybe you have the unpleasant task of helping someone else locate a file. Whatever the case, there are several options for finding a file -- a few of which you might not have tried before.

First, take a look at Windows advanced options for locating files. Choose Start -> Search -> For Files Or Folders to open the Search Results window. Here you can search for files or folders by name or search for files or folders that have a specific string in the name. You can also search on the contents of the file by entering text in the Containing Text field.

Next, look at the Search Options section to access additional search options. (If this section isn't expanded, click Search Options.) Here you can base searches on date, type and size; you can also click Advanced Options to specify whether to search subfolders, perform a case-sensitive search and/or search slow files.

Search from the command prompt. When searching for files from a command prompt, you also have several tools you can use. For example, use the DIR command to perform a quick and dirty file search. Use DIR /S to search for files in the current directory and subdirectories. The FIND and FINDSTR commands help you locate files that do or don't contain specific strings. Finally, you can use the TREE command to view the directory structure. Execute the command TREE /? (or one of the other search commands) to view the command's syntax.

Implementing procedures such as training users to store files in My Documents folder and its subfolders is a good first step toward ensuring that files are never missing. However, when files are missing, Windows' search options should help you find them quickly.

Good luck.

This was first published in April 2003

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