Tip: Use Natural Language to Search your Windows 7 System

Windows Search supports some pretty complex search capabilities. The set of rules that Windows Search follows when interpreting what you type in a search box are referred to as Advanced Query Syntax (AQS). You can filter by file type, use Boolean operators and Boolean properties, specify ranges, and more. Detailed documentation about AQS is available in the Windows Developer Center.

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But did you know Windows Search supports natural language? If you don’t fancy Boolean formulations, you may want to try the natural-language approach to searching.

So, instead of typing kind:email from:(Carl OR Ed) received:this week, you can enter email from Carl or Ed received this week. The system looks for key words (like “email”), filters out prepositions (such as “from”), handles conjunctions without making you capitalize them, and assumes the rest of what you type consists of property values that it should try to match.

But first you need to turn on the natural language searching capabilities. To do this, open Windows Explore, choose Organize, and select Folder And Search Options. In the Folder Options dialog, click the Search tab. On the Search tab, select Use Natural Language Search.

From the Microsoft Press book Windows 7 Inside Out by Ed Bott, Carl Siechert, and Craig Stinson.

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