Search a Specific Drive in Windows 8, Including External Drives

Windows 8 LogoWindows 8/8.1 includes a pretty slick search feature which is available via the Start Screen. Simply start typing in a search term and results will begin displaying immediately. This search feature can also be accessed in desktop mode via the Charms Bar or by simultaneously pressing the Windows + S keys on the keyboard.

However, if multiple drives are connected, this feature doesn’t provide options to selectively search a particular drive, and file searches are limited to whatever is contained in your Libraries. Alas, the old Windows 7 desktop search feature, which allows for comprehensive and selective searching, is no longer.

In my main machine at home I have 3 hard drives connected, two internal plus one external drive via USB. It’s quite a simple process to search through a specific drive or folder, here’s how:

Using File Explorer to perform a selective & comprehensive search:

‘File Explorer’ is the new name for the Windows 8 file manager formerly known as ‘Windows Explorer’. There are a number of quick and easy ways to access File Explorer:

  • From within the Start Screen – Type “file” and then click on File Explorer in the results
  • From within the Desktop – Click on the File Explorer icon pinned to the taskbar. Or simultaneously press the Windows + E keys.

file explorer

From there, open the drive you wish to search by double clicking on the associated entry. Then just type the filename/whatever into the search dialogue box:

file explorer - search

Of course, you can also dig down deeper and search through a specific folder on a particular drive. This is a much more comprehensive method than the Start Screen search feature and also allows users to search through any connected drives.

4 thoughts on “Search a Specific Drive in Windows 8, Including External Drives”

  1. Hi Tom.

    I see you have many years experience so perhapds you can help me.

    I have an external drive on which I would like to find a file . I am using Windows 8 which I don’t love but have a basic understanding of. I have been working on XP for many years and actually have that on another computer if that’s a better/easier way to search.

    I only know the approx. date the file was created. Is there a way to search my drive for any files created between say Dec 1 and Dec 14, 2014. When I type 2014 into the search box it seems to only bring up files with “2014” in the title.

    Thanks much!

    1. Hi Sam.

      You can only search by date modified. If you open the external drive in File Explorer and type datemodified: (including the colon) into the search box, a calendar will open where you can select a specific date range.

      If you know what type of file you are looking for, e.g. document, picture, program, etc., when you click inside the search box you’ll see a Search Tools menu displayed in the ribbon across the top of the window. Click on Type and select a file type from the drop down list.

      Hope that helps,
      Cheers… Jim

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