2021 Donald R. Snow - Last updated 2021-01-22
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ABSTRACT: Files get lost on our computers.  This class will discuss how to find files when you know something in the file name.  You can then rename and/or move it to find it more easily later. 
The class will discuss programs and ideas to help with this.  Other classes will discuss searching for files in other ways such as finding files containing certain text.  The notes for this class and related articles, all with active internet links, are on Don's webpage .


  1. Instructor is Donald R. Snow ( ) of Provo and St. George, Utah.
  2. These notes, with active internet links and other related articles, are on Don's website .
  3. Tips:  (1)  Easy to put an icon on your desktop for these notes or any other webpage; just drag the icon from in front of the address in your browser to your desktop.  (2)  To open a link from here in another tab, but keep your place in these notes, hold down the Control key while clicking the link.
  4. The problem for today:  How to find files and folders on your computer when you know something in the file or folder name.

  6. Computers contain thousands of files and folders with extensions to tell what kind they are, e.g. doc, docx, txt, pdf, odt, xls, etc. 
  7. Several kinds of searches on our computers are needed -- each will be a separate class
    1. Part 1:  Knowing something in the file name and type of file
    2. Part 2:  Finding files with certain text in the content
    3. Part 3:  Finding duplicate files to clean up our hard drives
  8. To see the file extensions in Windows 10, if not shown, go to Control Panel  > Appearance and Personalization > View (May be under File Explorer Options) > Uncheck the option to Hide Extensions of Known File Types > Click Apply and OK -- file extensions will now be included in file names so you can seew their types  

  10. WINDOWS SEARCH -- built into Windows 10, works, but is slow in searches; two places to enter search terms: (1) Box on the taskbar at bottom left, and (2) Click on Windows icon (lower left corner) and box is right above that; finds files and apps by name and by text inside, but that is slow; searches your entire computer and no way to limit it to just certain folders; shows the results in File Explorer and you can open the View Panel to see what's in it without opening the file; is not the best search, but worthwhile to keep in mind  
  11. The free program EVERYTHING is extremely helpful here --
    1. Has both installed and portable versions (portable means you can run it from a flashdrive, even if not installed on a computer) and both are extremely fast 
    2. Set the preferences the way you want in Tools > Options so it includes or ignores certain drives, folders, or files, and shows the results in the way you want 
    3. To search enter any words or characters in the file name and see a list of all such files that are anywhere on your computer; can use this to find all files of a certain type, e.g. all text files or all photos by using the extensions as search terms
    4. Results in EVERYTHING can be sorted by location, date created, date modified, etc., by clicking in the column title; this helps in finding and organizing files
    5. Can use it to find, run, move, rename, work with, and delete files 
    6. To move a collection of files from wherever they are into a single folder, highlight them in EVERYTHING, right-click, and drag them to the folder on your desktop or in File Explorer, and click Move Here.

  13. Name the file so it sorts where you will think to look, e.g. if it's about a person, start with the person's name; if it's a receipt, start with the company, etc.
  14. After the leading words, write the date in International Date Format YYYY-MM-DD so they alphabetize in chronological order, e.g. UtahDMV-2021-01-17-[KEYWORS[...
  15. Include keywords such as LETTER, CERTIFICATE, STATEMENT, RECEIPT, FINANCIAL, LDS, etc., so they will show up in searches
  16. Include the source, e.g. the website, library, newspaper, scanned, etc., so you or someone else can find it again in the source and see where it came from 
  17. You can move things into separate folders for ease of use, but naming is the crucial property, since EVERYTHING can find them anywhere on your computer  
  18. EVERYTHING doesn't move your files, unless you move them yourself, but it finds them anywhere on your computer and they sort in order - very helpful 

  20. Other classes will discuss other types of file searches, for example, finding files containing certain text and finding duplicate files.
  21. More information on these topics is in other notes and articles on my webpage.
  22. Our computers need cleaning up and this file maintenance takes time, but is usually worth the effort.

Return to the  Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group Home Page  or  Don's Class Listings Page .