Advanced Query Syntax

[Windows Search 2.x is obsolete after Windows XP. Instead, use Windows Search.]

The Advanced Query Syntax (AQS) is used by Microsoft Windows Desktop Search (WDS) to help users and programmers better define and narrow their searches. Using AQS is an easy way to narrow searches and deliver better result sets. Searches can be narrowed by the following parameters:

  • File kinds: folders, documents, presentations, pictures and so on.
  • File stores: specific databases and locations.
  • File properties: size, date, title and so on.
  • File contents: keywords like "project deliverables," "AQS," "blue suede shoes," and so on.

Furthermore, search parameters can be combined using search operators. The remainder of this section explains the query syntax, the parameters and operators, and how they can be combined to offer targeted search results. The tables describe the syntax to use with WDS, as well as the properties that can be queried for each file kind displayed in the Windows Desktop Search results window.

Desktop Search Syntax

A search query can include one or more keywords, with Boolean operators and optional criteria. These optional criteria can narrow a search based on the following:

  • Scope or data store in which files reside
  • Kinds of files
  • Managed properties of files

The optional criteria, described in greater detail following, use the following syntax:

<scope name>:<value>

<file kind>:<value>

<property name>:<value>

Suppose a user wants to search for a document containing the phase "last quarter," created by John or Joanne, and that the user saved to the folder mydocuments. The query may look like this:

"last quarter" author:(john OR joanne) foldername:mydocuments

Scope: Locations and Data Stores

Users can limit the scope of their searches to specific folder locations or data stores. For example, if you use several email accounts and you want to limit a query to either Microsoft Outlook or Microsoft Outlook Express, you can use store:outlook or store:oe respectively.

Restrict Search by Data Store Use Example
Desktop desktop store:desktop
Files files store:files
Outlook outlook store:outlook
Outlook Express oe store:oe
Specific Folder foldername or in foldername:MyDocuments or in:MyDocuments

If you have a protocol handler in place to crawl custom stores, like Lotus Notes, you can use the name of the store or protocol handler for the store. For example, if you implemented a protocol handler to include a Lotus Notes data store as "notes," the query syntax would be store:notes.

Common File Kinds

Users can also limit their searches to specific types of files, called file kinds. The following table lists the file kinds and offers examples of the syntax used to search for these kinds of files.

To Restrict by File Type: Use Example
All file types everything kind:everything
Communications communications kind:communications
Contacts contacts kind:contacts
E-mail email kind:email
Instant Messenger conversations im kind:im
Meetings meetings kind:meetings
Tasks tasks kind:tasks
Notes notes kind:notes
Documents docs kind:docs
Text documents text kind:text
Spreadsheets spreadsheets kind:spreadsheets
Presentations presentations kind:presentations
Music music kind:music
Pictures pics kind:pics
Videos videos kind:videos
Folders folders kind:folders
Folder name foldername or in foldername:mydocs or in:mydocs
Favorites favorites kind:favorites
Programs programs kind:programs

Boolean Operators

Search keywords and file properties can be combined to broaden or narrow a search with operators. The following table explains common operators used in a search query.

Keyword/Symbol Examples Function
NOT social NOT security
Finds items that contain social, but not security.
social security
Finds items that contain social, but not security.
OR social OR security
Finds items that contain social or security.
Quotation marks "social security"
Finds items that contain the exact phrase social security.
Parentheses (social security)
Finds items that contain social and security in any order.
> date:>11/05/04
size:>500
Finds items with a date after 11/05/04.
Finds items with a size greater than 500 bytes.
< date:<11/05/04
size:<500
Finds items with a date before 11/05/04.
Finds items with a size less than 500 bytes.
.. date:11/05/04..11/10/04
Finds items with a date beginning on 11/05/04 and ending on 11/10/04.

Note

The operators NOT and OR must be in uppercase and cannot be combined in one query (e.g., social OR security NOT retirement).

Boolean Properties

Some file types let users search for files using Boolean properties, as described in the following table.

Property Example Function
is:attachment report is:attachment Finds items that have attachments that contain report. Same as isattachment:true.
isonline: report isonline:true Finds items that are online and which contain report.
isrecurring: report isrecurring:true Finds items that are recurring and which containreport.
isflagged: report isflagged:true Finds items that are flagged (Review, Follow up, for example) and which contain report.
isdeleted: report isdeleted:true Finds items that are flagged as deleted (Recycle Bin or Deleted Items, for example) and which contain report.
iscompleted: report iscompleted:false Finds items that are not flagged as complete and which contain report.
hasattachment: report hasattachment:true Finds items containing report and having attachments
hasflag: report hasflag:true inds items containing report and having flags.

Dates

In addition to searching on specific dates and date ranges using the operators described earlier, AQS allows relative date values (like today, tomorrow, or next week) and day (like Tuesday or Monday..Wednesday) and month (February) values.

Relative to: Syntax Example Result
Day date:today
date:tomorrow
date:yesterday
Finds items with today's date.
Finds items with tomorrow's date.
Finds items with yesterday's date.
Week/Month/year date:this week
date:last week
date:next month
date:past month
date:coming year
Finds items with a date falling within the current week.
Finds items with a date falling within the previous week.
Finds items with a date falling within the upcoming week.
Finds items with a date falling within the previous month.
Finds items with a date falling within the upcoming year.

Properties by File Kind

Users can search on specific properties of different file kinds. Some properties (like file size) are common to all files, while others are limited to a specific kind. Slide count, for example, is specific to presentations. The following tables list these properties by file kind.

File Kind: Everything

These are properties common to all file kinds. To include all types of files in a query, the syntax is:

kind:everything <property>:<value>

where <property> is a property listed below and <value> is the user-specified search term.

Property Use Example
Title title, subject or about title:"Quarterly Financial"
Status status status:complete
Date date date:last week
Date modified datemodified or modified modified:last week
Importance importance or priority importance:high
Size size size:> 50
Deleted deleted or isdeleted isdeleted:true
Is attachment isattachment isattachment:true
To to or toname to:bob
Cc cc or ccname cc:john
Company company company:Microsoft
Location location location:"Conference Room 102"
Category category category:Business
Keywords keywords keywords:"sales projections"
Album album album:"Fly by Night"
File name filename or file filename:MyResume
Genre genre genre:rock
Author author or by author:"Stephen King"
People people or with with:(sonja or david)
Folder folder, under or path folder:downloads
File extension ext or fileext ext:.txt

Attachment

These are properties common to attachments. To limit the search to attachments only, the syntax is:

kind:attachment <property>:<value>

where <property> is a property listed below and <value> is the user-specified search term.

Property Use Example
People people or with people:john or with:john

Contacts

These are properties common to contacts. To limit the search to contacts only, the syntax is:

kind:contacts <property>:<value>

where <property> is a property listed below and <value> is the user-specified search term.

Property Use Example
Job title jobtitle jobtitle:CFO
IM address imaddress imaddress:john_doe@msn.com
Assistant's phone assistantsphone assistantsphone:555-3323
Assistant name assistantname assistantname:Paul
Profession profession profession:plumber
Nickname nickname nickname:Tex
Spouse spouse spouse:Debbie
Business city businesscity businesscity:Seattle
Business postal code businesspostalcode businesspostalcode:98006
Business home page businesshomepage businesshomepage:www.microsoft.com
Callback phone number callbackphonenumber callbackphonenumber:555-555-2121
Car phone carphone carphone:555-555-2121
Children children children:Timmy
First name firstname firstname:John
Last name lastname lastname:Doe
Home fax homefax homefax:555-555-2121
Manager's name managersname managersname:John
Pager pager pager:555-555-2121
Business phone businessphone businessphone:555-555-2121
Home phone homephone homephone:555-555-2121
Mobile phone mobilephone mobilephone:555-555-2121
Office office office:sample
Anniversary anniversary anniversary:1/1/06
Birthday birthday birthday:1/1/06
Web page webpage webpage:www.microsoft.com

Note

Phone numbers are indexed as entered. For example, if a user did not include a country or area code when entering the phone number, users will not be able to locate a contact if searching with country or area code in the phone number.

Communications

These are properties common to communications. To limit the search to communications only, the syntax is:

kind:communications <property>:<value>

where <property> is a property listed below and <value> is the user-specified search term.

Property Use Example
From from or organizer from:john
Received received or sent sent:yesterday
Subject subject or title subject:"Quarterly Financial"
Has attachment hasattachments, hasattachment hasattachment:true
Attachments attachments or attachment attachment:presentation.ppt
Bcc bcc, bccname or bccaddress bcc:dave
Cc address ccaddress or cc ccaddress:john_doe@outlook.com
Follow-up flag followupflag followupflag:2
Due date duedate or due due:last week
Read read or isread is:read
Is completed iscompleted is:completed
Incomplete incomplete or isincomplete is:incomplete
Has flag hasflag or isflagged has:flag
Duration duration duration:> 50

Calendar

These are properties common to calendars. To limit the search to calendars only, the syntax is:

kind:calendar <property>:<value>

where <property> is a property listed below and <value> is the user-specified search term.

Property Use Example
Recurring recurring or isrecurring is:recurring
Organizer organizer, by or from organizer:debbie

Documents

These are properties common to documents. To limit the search to documents only, the syntax is:

kind:documents <property>:<value>

where <property> is a property listed below and <value> is the user-specified search term.

Property Use Example
Comments comments comments:"needs final review"
Last saved by lastsavedby lastsavedby:john
Document manager documentmanager documentmanager:john
Revision number revisionnumber revisionnumber:1.0.3
Document format documentformat documentformat:MIMETYPE
Date last printed datelastprinted datelastprinted:last week

Presentation

These are properties common to presentations. To limit the search to presentations only, the syntax is:

kind:presentation <property>:<value>

where <property> is a property listed below and <value> is the user-specified search term.

Property Use Example
Slide count slidecount slidecount:>20

Music

These are properties common to music files. To limit the search to music only, the syntax is:

kind:music <property>:<value>

where <property> is a property listed below and <value> is the user-specified search term.

Property Use Example
Bit rate bitrate, rate bitrate:192
Artist artist, by or from artist:John Singer
Duration duration duration:3
Album album album:"greatest hits"
Genre genre genre:rock
Track track track:12
Year year year:> 1980 < 1990

Picture

These are properties common to pictures. To limit the search to pictures only, the syntax is:

kind:picture <property>:<value>

where <property> is a property listed below and <value> is the user-specified search term.

Property Use Example
Camera make cameramake cameramake:sample
Camera model cameramodel cameramodel:sample
Dimensions dimensions dimensions:8X10
Orientation orientation orientation:landscape
Date taken datetaken datetaken:yesterday
Width width width:1600
Height height height:1200

Video

These are properties common to videos. To limit the search to videos only, the syntax is:

kind:video <property>:<value>

where <property> is a property listed below and <value> is the user-specified search term.

Property Use Example
Name name, subject name:"Family Vacation to the Beach 05"
Ext ext, fileext ext:.avi

Reference

Perceived Types

SchemaTable

Calling WDS from the Command Line

Calling WDS from Web Pages