How to Search for Files from a Certain Date Range in Windows 8 and 10

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Say you’re searching for a file, and you know it was last modified during a certain period of time. You can limit your searches to date ranges in Windows, but it’s not immediately obvious.

Searching a specific date range in Windows 8 and 10 is harder than it needs to be. Back in the days of Windows XP, File Explorer presented a calendar selector front and center. Even in Windows Vista and Windows 7, that selector wasn’t hard to get to. In Windows 10, you have to jump through a hoop or two first.

How to Search a Date Range with the Keyboard

First of all, if you like using the keyboard, you can easily select a date range by typing it in the search box in any folder, just like in previous versions of Windows. Just use the following syntax:

modified:2/1/2016 .. 2/20/2016

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

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And if you’re a real keyboard junkie, know that Windows uses the Advanced Query Syntax for search commands. This means you can search using Boolean operators, file properties, kinds of files, and a lot more. In fact, when you select options using the File Explorer UI, Windows is really just inputting those text searches for you.

How to Select a Date Range with the Mouse

Speaking of the File Explorer UI, it is still possible to search for a range of dates using just your mouse. This is where those hoops come in. In the File Explorer ribbon, switch to the Search tab and click the Date Modified button. You’ll see a list of predefined options like Today, Last Week, Last Month, and so on. Pick any of them. The text search box changes to reflect your choice and Windows performs the search.

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To choose a more specific date range follow those steps, then click anywhere on the text in that box after the colon (so, for example, on “this week”) and a calendar will pop up. Click any date to search for files modified on that day.

To search a range of dates, you have a few options:

  • Click a date and drag your mouse to select the range. This is the easiest option if your range falls within a month.
  • Click one date and then Shift-click another date. This makes it easier to select a range that spans multiple months.
  • Click the name of the month at the top of the calendar to select the whole month. When you do that, the calendar zooms out to show you the whole year. You can select the whole year as a range and the view will keep zooming out until you can select an entire decade.

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Don’t forget, once you’ve selected your date range, you can also add other parameters like file name or file type to your search. And if you think it’s a search you’re likely to perform again, go ahead and save it by clicking the Save Search button. Next time, your search will be just one click away.

Walter Glenn is a long time computer geek and tech writer. Though he's mostly a Windows and gadget guy, he has a fondness for anything tech. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.