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This chapter is from the book

Searching for Office Files

The Open dialog box displays a list of all files and subfolders in a single folder. Searching for a specific file can be tedious if the folder is full of files with similar names, or if it's organized into many subfolders. And in some cases you might have no idea where the file you're looking for is stored. So how do you find a file fast?

In Windows Vista, Search tools built into the operating system are available directly from Office common dialog boxes and from Windows Explorer. In Windows XP, similar capabilities are available from the Windows desktop and from Windows Explorer after you install Windows Desktop Search. If you can remember a few scraps of information about the file—part of the name, a date, or even a word or phrase that you remember using in the document—you can probably find it.

For example, you might look in your Homework folder for all files that you created or updated in the past week. You might search for files that include the word report and that are not marked as completed. If you're trying to clean out clutter in your Documents folder, you can search for all Office files that were last modified more than six months ago, and then burn them to a CD or move them to an archive folder.

In Office 2007 with Windows Vista, the file search tools are tightly integrated into Office programs. In Open and Save As dialog boxes, a Search box appears in the top-right corner of the dialog box. Enter a word or phrase here to find any file that contains that text in the title, body, or in any property. For a more robust set of search tools, start in Windows Explorer, as we explain in the Extra Credit section at the end of this chapter.

Basic searches in a common dialog box are quick and simple. Start in the location you want to search and enter your search text. You don't need to click a button to continue; Windows Vista performs the search on the fly as you type. Basic searches follow these rules:

  • The search looks for any files that contain the search text, whether that text appears in the filename, the body of the file, in keywords or tags, or in file properties.
  • Search results also include files that contain forms of the words you entered as search text, such as plurals or alternate verb forms (looked instead of looking, for example).
  • The * is supported as a wildcard character. If you type gla, for example, you'll find a file that includes the word glass or glamour. If you type lass, however, you get a match only with words that begin with that string. Adding an asterisk at the beginning—*lass—finds files containing glass and class.
  • You can restrict searches to specific fields using advanced search syntax. For example, to find files where you've filled in the Status field, preface your search text with the field name followed by a colon. The search terms status:published and title:alice return only items where the exact search term appears in the Status or Title field, respectively, and ignores documents containing those words in the body or in other fields.

In Windows Vista (but not in Windows XP), an arrow appears to the right of the column heading in any common dialog box. (If a particular column isn't available, right-click the list of headings and select from the drop-down list to add it to the display.) Choosing check boxes from this list allows you to filter the list of results to make it easier to find files.

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