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Using the Search Companion to Find Files on Your Computer

Searching for a file on your computer has never been easier thanks to the Windows Search Companion. A cute little animated dog guides you through the entire search, asking you relevant questions to help him retrieve the desired file as quickly as possible.

To begin working with the Search Companion, click the Start button and then click Search. The Search Companion window shown in Figure 3.5 opens.

Figure 3.5 Your search begins by telling the Search Companion what kind of file you're looking for.

Consult the sections below to learn how to find specific types of files.

Locating a Multimedia File

Given the popularity of and ease in working with digital photos, music, and videos in Windows XP, Home Edition, it's only natural to assume that you'll eventually end up with a large number of these files on your machine.

Should you ever lose track of any of the files, however, the Search Companion is there to help. To find a multimedia file on your machine, launch the Search Companion as described previously and then follow these steps:

  1. First, click the Pictures, music, or video link. The Search Companion presents you with a new set of options.

  2. You are then asked to specify the exact type of multimedia file you're looking for: Pictures and Photos, Music, or Videos. Check the appropriate option.

  3. Near the bottom of the Search Assistant, you'll see a text box. In it, you are asked to supply the name (or partial name) of the file you're trying to find. Type it in and then click the Search button.

  4. The Search Companion returns a list of possibilities in the right pane (see Figure 3.6). Right-click the file you want to work with to take action on it (move it, delete it, rename it, and so on).

Figure 3.6 When searching for images, you actually see the files, not just meaningless filenames.

Searching for Documents

The Search Companion is also highly effective at helping users locate word processing documents, spreadsheets, or other types of Microsoft Office documents.

To find such a document, simply launch Search Companion and follow these steps:

  1. Click the Documents (word processing, spreadsheet, etc.) link to uncover the next set of search options.

  2. Next, to narrow the field of possibilities, the Search Companion asks you when you last modified the document you're looking for. By default all documents will be considered, but if you remember a timeframe that could speed things up a bunch. Click the appropriate option and then scroll down the Search Companion pane a bit.

  3. If you know the name of the document or even part of it, type it in the text box provided and then click the Search button.

Again, the results of the search appear in the right pane. To open the document, all you need to do is double-click it.

Finding Files of Any Type

What if you don't know the file name but can remember unique words or phrases used in the document? No sweat; the Search Companion can help! In fact, these are the steps to follow for the toughest searches out there:

  1. On the opening screen of the Search Companion, click the All files and folders link. You'll find a number of neat search parameters you haven't seen before.

  2. If you can recall even part of the file name, enter it in the text box provided.

  3. Next, enter a word or phrase you feel was unique with regard to the document you're searching for. (Obviously pictures, videos, and music files don't have words, but....)

  4. Using the Look in dropdown box, you can instruct the Search Companion to search a floppy drive, CD, or alternate disk drive. (The search will be performed on the C: drive by default.)

  5. If you remember when you last opened the document, click the When was it modified? button, and then choose the appropriate option.

  6. The rest of the options aren't terribly useful to a casual user. (I mean, there aren't very many of us who can eyeball a document, shake our head in admiration, and exclaim, "Wow, that's the best 100KB of text I've ever seen!") But seriously, if you entered all the other information (or even a fair chunk of it), clicking Search should bring you the file you're looking for.

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