How to Find Apps, Files, and Other Items in Windows 11


Here’s how to use and customize the search tool in Windows 11 to quickly get the results you need.

Finding a specific application, file, setting, or other item in Windows can be difficult if you don’t know or remember where it is. This is where the search function comes in handy. With Windows 11’s Search Tool, you can search for almost any type of item and adjust the search options to control how a typical search works and what it can find.

SEE: Windows 11: Tips on Installation, Security, and More (Free PDF) (TechRepublic)

To access the Search screen in Windows 11, click the Search icon on the taskbar. If you are already in the Start menu, click on the search box at the top, and it will bring you to the search screen. The screen displays your top apps as well as recent searches and quick suggested searches. Click on an item you want to find or open (Figure A).

Figure A


Otherwise, enter the name of the app, file, or whatever else you want to search for in the search box. The results show searches in all categories, including apps, documents, and websites. Click on a specific category to see only those results. Click the More menu to view results for emails, folders, music, people, photos, settings, or videos. Click on the result you want to view or open (Number B).

Number B


Next, you might want to change some of the search options, especially if you aren’t getting all of the results that you expect. Go to Settings, select Privacy & Security, then select Search permissions. Under SafeSearch, you can set Strict, Moderate, or Off options to expand or limit the results.

If you sign in to Windows with a Microsoft account and want to include content from OneDrive, SharePoint, Outlook, and Bing in your search results, turn on the switch for the Microsoft account. If you’re using a work or school account instead, turn on the switch for the work or school account (Figure C).

Figure C


You can also control the privacy and history of your searches. If you don’t want the search history on your PC to be considered in future search suggestions, turn off the switch for search history on this device. To delete your saved search history, click the Clear Device Search History button. To view, delete, or further control your search history, click the links for the privacy dashboard and Bing search history settings (Number D).

Number D


Then go to the previous screen for Privacy & Security and click on the Windows search setting. Normally, Windows will periodically index your applications, files, and other items so that they appear quickly in search results. If you prefer that indexing does not ruin battery life when power is low, turn on the switch to adhere to the power settings when indexing.

SEE: How to install Windows 11 on a Mac (TechRepublic)

You can also control where a search will look for files. By default, the tool only looks in specific locations, such as documents, pictures, and music. To extend the indexing range, click the Customize search locations link. This triggers the indexing window where you can change the settings to add more folders. You can also click on the Enhanced option to include your entire PC in the search index (Encrypted).



Scroll further down to review all records excluded from search indexing. Click the Add Excluded Folder button to add any other folders you want to remove from indexing (Figure F).

Figure F


Finally, scroll to the bottom of the window. Clicking on the Advanced indexing options entry opens the indexing window, in which you can change the settings. Click the Indexer Troubleshooter entry if you have problems with the search tool or search results and want to check for indexing issues (Number G).

Number G


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