JsJ_Slim
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Windows 7 (advanced) search pane?

I've been using Windows 7 for some time now, and loving it!

However, when I was preaching to my family and friends, they asked me if the Advanced Search pane (that we used to have in XP) is back in Windows 7.

Of course, with the Windows Search Advanced Query Syntax (let's call this AQS), we are able to achieve what the advanced search pane could and more. But then they brought up a pretty good point:

Why should I (they) have to learn/memorize a special syntax in order to perform a complex search, when the advanced search pane in XP was so much more straightforward? And I kinda agree with them.

E.g, without looking at the AQS documentation, how many of you can immediately come up with the single search criteria for:

1. all jpg and png files (only)
2. that are in e:\images and d:\images and f:\dir\images
3. without recursing into any subdirectories
4. that are larger than 10KB
5. and was created between 25th of December and 1st of January?

Anyone got an answer for that?

Or is there some sort of advanced search pane like in Outlook? Pick from a list of filters the field to search/filter by, and you get a nice label/textbox for you to type in?

I've done some digging, and it seems like there's only partial (restricted) support for this. E.g, in the Music library, you can only add filters for Album, Artist, Genre, Length; Documents: Authors, Type, Date modified, Size; etc.

And when you're not in a library, e.g, folder on an external disk, the only filters you can add are Date modified and Size.

Are there any ways to add more filters? Or are we limited to either: 1) relying on the filters that Windows 7 *THINKS* we need, or 2) buckle down and memorize the AQS?

[Edit]
Here's another story: I was explaining to my mom how you could build an AQS search criteria, and she remarked (paraphrased), "Why is it trying to search when you're not even done typing? Why not have a search button that begins searching only when you are ready to?"
Nevin Leiby
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Nevin Leiby replied on

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Maybe it's just me, but how can you even get that far?

My "search" usually just stalls before it lets me even BEGIN to add a filter. Do you just initiate the initial search from a new explorer window? Or do you initiate the search from the start icon and then add a filter...or.....?

To me, Search is defunct...99% of my data is on a network share and it can't find it even if I am in the folder that I am searching for

Shawn "Cmdr" Keene [MVP]
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I think rather than finding the filter, they'd rather you just type a few parts of the file and Windows will figure it out for you (whether you type the author or whatever).  I don't necessarily agree with that, lol.

You can see more filters if you expand the search box, but who would consider that an intuitive interface?  I think this could have been implemented much differently with better results.  Perhaps the 'search filters' could be checkboxes at the bottom of that menu, or even at the top similar to the library pane's links.  Perhaps Windows 8 will have more time spend on this area.



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Shawn Keene | Microsoft MVP & Community Moderator | cmdrkeene.com | http://cmdrkeene.com/r/WindowsH8
JN_Big Red Button
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JN_Big Red Button replied on
Many thanks for mentioning 'AQS' and the fact that it exists at all in W7! Like, I'm sure, many others I've spent quite some time trying to noodle how you could find say 'all files changed/created on a given date' something that was easy to do in XP (especially with the MS Advanced Search add-on installed). Typing 'Advanced Query Syntax' into windows 7 help brought up the relevant info.

However, although the basics are all there I do agree with you that more biult-in filters than just date and size would be useful. The syntax itself seems pretty comprehensive - what's needed is easier access such as some kind of 'Boolean Query Builder' so that its power can be used without constant reference to the documentation.
John
jjk98
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jjk98 replied on
I would thrilled if you could tell me how to do only step 1 in your example. It does not appear that the search engine can search by file name, only contents.

I hope that I am wrong...
JN_Big Red Button
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JN_Big Red Button replied on

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Try this in the Start button search box:

kind:=picture name:*.jpg OR *.png

John

JsJ_Slim
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JsJ_Slim replied on

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if it's just step 1 that you're after, this should do the trick:

ext:jpg OR png

And I think that's my point: someone who's rarely used Windows 7's search feature before might find it hard to search for more complex criteria, without first learning the AQS. 
Sure, most of the syntax can be "easily" guessed (my mom smirked when I told her this), but I'm sure it would've been so much more accessible if it had an accompanying GUI (like the Windows XP Search Pane).

JN_Big Red Button brought up an interesting suggestion: a Boolean Query Builder
I've seen one in Outlook, and my friends and family (my mom especially) have had no problems with that. 
It would be nice to see this in Windows 7.

Btw, I've just found out about WinKey + F. That brings up a Search window, but even here, it only has 4 filters: Kind, Date modified, Type, Size.
Sure, most people will probably not use any more filters beyond these 4, but what if some of them do? 

Even worse, what if you're suddenly REQUIRED to perform a complex search, and you don't know your AQS and you're sharing a 128K internet with an office of 20 people, and internet surfing is strictly filtered/monitored, and your boss is standing behind you waiting for the search result? 

True story. 
Because of that one Search Pane in Windows XP, my mom trusts XP more than Vista or 7.

Update: my friends and family are still sticking with Windows XP.

Shawn "Cmdr" Keene [MVP]
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You don't have to learn or know the syntax.  It's really easier than it may appear on the surface.

Instead of trying to figure out the syntax, simply type what you're looking for.  If you want to search a specific type of info (like Author or Date, anything that used to be in the Advanced pane), it appears for you.  Simply click it and you're done.

In this picture below, I didn't have to type any of that, I just clicked "Add a search filter".  It's the same options from Windows 7, but now they're blue links instead of a big bunch of text boxes.


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Shawn Keene | Microsoft MVP & Community Moderator | cmdrkeene.com | http://cmdrkeene.com/r/WindowsH8
JsJ_Slim
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JsJ_Slim replied on

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Hi Shawn,

I'm not sure if it's just me and my RC and RTM Win7 (or this other guy: http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en/w7itproui/thread/4d634772-013f-4623-b59d-80c482bdb361), but the "Add a search filter" have never worked in Win7. In fact, it's more like a label than a button.

Besides, I've already mentioned that there ARE existing filters that you can use (I've even went so far as shown how different libraries give you different sets of filters). However, it appears that you can't pick the ones beyond what is provided to you.

Regards,
Josh
Shawn "Cmdr" Keene [MVP]
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That's pretty much correct.  But they are the same options as Vista's or XP's search pane.  In other words, you haven't lost the ability to select any options, they just changed how you do it.




If this was helpful, please vote by clicking the green triangle. If it solves the issue, click Propose as Answer. Thanks!
Shawn Keene | Microsoft MVP & Community Moderator | cmdrkeene.com | http://cmdrkeene.com/r/WindowsH8
JsJ_Slim
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JsJ_Slim replied on

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That's definitely true about Vista's search.

However, I don't quite agree about XP's search pane. With XP's search pane, the user can *always* choose the modified/created date/hidden, etc. 

Sure, there might not be as many filters as Vista or 7, but at least users were able to access these filters. Besides, these filters were really what most people (that I know anyway) use anyway.

With Win7's search, you're limited to (maximum of) 4 visible filters. Anything else, and you either need to guess or look up the AQS reference sheet.

That's why I came up with the above scenario: Slow internet connection, searching for something you usually don't, with the added pressure of someone starring over your shoulders. Under such circumstances, even I won't be able to recall/guess the right filters on the spot. Now imagine a woman nearing retirement doing that.

In this case, I'm inclined to agree with my mom, that Windows XP's search, as limited as it may be, is still easier to use than Windows 7's. 

Heck, even Outlook's search is easier to use than Windows 7's.
Shawn "Cmdr" Keene [MVP]
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I think rather than finding the filter, they'd rather you just type a few parts of the file and Windows will figure it out for you (whether you type the author or whatever).  I don't necessarily agree with that, lol.

You can see more filters if you expand the search box, but who would consider that an intuitive interface?  I think this could have been implemented much differently with better results.  Perhaps the 'search filters' could be checkboxes at the bottom of that menu, or even at the top similar to the library pane's links.  Perhaps Windows 8 will have more time spend on this area.



If this was helpful, please vote by clicking the green triangle. If it solves the issue, click Propose as Answer. Thanks!
Shawn Keene | Microsoft MVP & Community Moderator | cmdrkeene.com | http://cmdrkeene.com/r/WindowsH8
Nevin Leiby
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Nevin Leiby replied on

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Maybe it's just me, but how can you even get that far?

My "search" usually just stalls before it lets me even BEGIN to add a filter. Do you just initiate the initial search from a new explorer window? Or do you initiate the search from the start icon and then add a filter...or.....?

To me, Search is defunct...99% of my data is on a network share and it can't find it even if I am in the folder that I am searching for

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