How-To Geek

View Last Modified Files on Windows Vista

Have you ever wondered, while listening to the sound of your hard drive thrashing, What files on my system are being modified? Since I recently had that thought, I decided to investigate.

There’s more than one way to go about this, of course, but I’ll just share the two easiest methods with you.

Using Vista Search

The simplest method that doesn’t require any additional software is to open up Vista’s Search panel (You can hit the F3 key while Windows Explorer is open).

Change the location to your C: drive or whichever drive you are trying to check, set the Date modified to today, and then check the box for “Include non-indexed, hidden, and system files”.


Press the Search button, and then make sure that the Date modified column is showing up in the list. If that column isn’t showing up, you’ll need to add it by right-clicking on the column area, choosing More and then checking the box for it.


You can then just sort by Date Modified descending to see all the recently changed files, which should give you some insight into what your computer is doing behind your back.

Using a Third-Party Tool

A simpler option is to use the Last Changed Files tool, which scans your entire hard drive and shows you just the last 100 changed files. It’s as simple as downloading and opening the application.


There’s no installation required for this tool, but I should note that the GUI is a little flaky, especially while it’s in the middle of searching.

Download Last Changed Files from

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 10/3/07

Comments (5)

  1. Don't Google Me

    In Vista How to view all files by date as in XP. I have files dating back to 1982 and would like to see the all chrologically ordered as in XP on simply tells it to view all files by date (created)

  2. roger

    this was the only article on the net that i could find on the first page of a SE that addressed my nagging lack of a Last Modified tab in Vista… i don’t BELIEVE i changed it, and couldn’t BELIEVE it wasnt enabled by default… shrug.. thx for this article though.

  3. Don't Google Me

    Had 3 computers

    2 ran XP, 1 VISTA

    My Wife’s XP went bad so got a new VISTA for her.

    Up till this time all the computers worked on our in the house private network. They all could share with each other.

    Now, with the new Vista model, I have it so an Army of ants could share it, BUT the other Vista and XP computers in the house cannot get into it.

    This new Vista unit can access the other 2 computers
    The other 2 computers can access only the “Public Folder” and the 3 printers . I can’t figure another single “Share” command to do to this new and the directory of shared things attached to the new VISTA unit, but they cannot access anything excepting the “Public Folder”…. Anyone have any ideas?

  4. Micheal Conner

    If u have chip in your computer how would you disrupt the data base to get it out?

  5. Doug

    Why is Windows such crap.

    I’m trying to search, in a specific directory, for files modified since a certain date. Seems as though I can only do this from the root of a disk drive.

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