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.

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About the Author

Jim Hillier

Jim is the resident freeware aficionado at DCT. A computer veteran with 30+ years experience who first started writing about computers and tech back in the days when freeware was actually free. His first computer was a TRS-80 in the 1980s, he progressed through the Commodore series of computers before moving to PCs in the 1990s. Now retired (aka an old geezer), Jim retains his passion for all things tech and still enjoys building and repairing computers for a select clientele... as well as writing for DCT, of course.