I was browsing our forum earlier today when I noticed a question from a reader asking how to select a date range when searching for files in advanced search. This is something that was extremely easy in XP, but seems to be much less intuitive in Vista.

I figured he can’t be the only person confused by this, so I’m writing it up here for everybody. Hopefully this will help somebody!

How to Search a Date Range with the Keyboard

If you are a keyboard junkie, you can easily select a date range by using the following syntax in the search box in any folder:

modified:2/1/2008 .. 2/20/2008

The key is the two periods between the dates, which tells the search engine to use it as a range. You could use “Datecreated” instead of “modified”, or just “date” if you wanted to.

If you want to change the search to also use keywords as well, you can use the name: parameter like this:

name:xls modified:2/1/2008..2/20/2008

It’s quite powerful once you get used to it.

How to Select a Date Range with the Mouse

If you aren’t a keyboard junkie you probably don’t want to remember the exact syntax you need to type in, but don’t fear – we’ve got another way to do it. Just open up Advanced search by hitting the F3 key with an Explorer window open.

In Vista, pressing F3 will produce a window like this:

Change the Date drop-down to “Date Modified” and then “is”. Clicking on the date range box will bring up a calendar.

In Windows 7, pressing F3 will bring up a small dropdown near the search bar.

Click “Date Modified” to bring up the calendar.

Once you have the calendar box open, you can just click the first date and drag the mouse to select more dates.

You can even click on the month to select the whole month, or even select multiple months. The key thing is that once you’ve got the selection how you want it, you need to click somewhere else… it’s slightly tricky until you get used to it.

Of course you’ll have the best luck if you also put in a filename into the Name box, and select the right folder location to search in.

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Lowell is the founder and CEO of How-To Geek. He’s been running the show since creating the site back in 2006. Over the last decade, Lowell has personally written more than 1000 articles which have been viewed by over 250 million people. Prior to starting How-To Geek, Lowell spent 15 years working in IT doing consulting, cybersecurity, database management, and programming work.
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