How to Search for Text Inside of Any File Using Windows Search

By Justin Garrison on December 5th, 2011

Many of us rely on Windows Search to find files and launch programs, but searching for text within files is limited to specific filetypes by default. Here’s how you can expand your search to include other text based files.

We have shown you some advanced search operators using Windows Search before and even how to change which files are indexed and how to rebuild your search index. But what about searching for text inside of .html, .php, .js, and other text based web and scripting files? Windows search also allows you to include other file extensions with a few simple clicks.

This should work on Windows 10, 8, 7, or Vista the same way. The screens might look a little different, but it’s the same process on all versions.

Searching For Text Inside of a File

First, go to your control panel and open the indexing options. The easiest way to find it is to just search for “indexing” in the search box.

Now click on advanced and then file types in the new window.

Find the extension of the file you would like to search the contents of and then click on the index properties and file contents radio button at the bottom of the window.

The filter description column should automatically changed to whatever filter is used to open that filetype by default.

If the filetype you are looking for is not in the list it means you do not have a program set as the default handler for that filetype. You can add the extension to the list and by default Windows Search will use a plain text filter to search the file contents.

If you search for text inside one of the new filetypes it should now show up in your search results, once the index is done being rebuilt.

If you’d like to always search within file contents for a specific folder, navigate to the folder you want search contents for and click organize then folder and search options.

Click on the search tab and then click the always search file names and contents radio button.

The index will need to be rebuilt again and once it’s done your searches will automatically look in file content.

Justin Garrison is a Linux and HTPC enthusiast who loves to try new projects. He isn't scared of bricking a cell phone in the name of freedom.

  • Published 12/5/11
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