How to use Windows Search (Local Search) advanced tutorial

What is Windows Search?
The search function that comes with Windows. It is the search at the bottom of the address bar. It is a very practical function to search for files, applications, settings, or Internet resources on the computer. Quick start with the shortcut key Win+S.

Regular searches are completely sufficient.

You can also search for different types of content by filtering:

Windows Search can search for content:

Device local content (including applications, settings, and files)
Personal Microsoft account (including OneDrive and Outlook)
Work or school accounts (including OneDrive for Business, SharePoint, and other Microsoft services)

Change SafeSearch settings

In Windows 10, go to Start>Settings>>&History.
In Windows 11, go to Start>Settings>&>Search permissions.
Under “SafeSearch”, select preferences:
If you choose “strict”, your settings will be shared with Bing in the browser. Bing, regardless of the SafeSearch settings on the Bing. com page, set the settings on the Bing device.
If you choose “Medium” or “Off”, Bing Search will default to using the Bing SafeSearch settings on the Bing. com settings page
Search for Windows native content
When you search your computer for files and other content, indexing your computer content can help you get faster search results. Windows uses indexes. All data collected from the index is stored locally on your computer. No data will be sent to any other computer or Microsoft.

You will find the Windows settings that allow searching for files and other Windows settings on the Search Windows page. To choose whether to search for “documents, images,” and “music content,” or to search the entire computer:

In Windows 10, go to Start>Settings>Search for Windows.
In Windows 11, go to Start>Settings>&>Search for Windows.
Searching the entire computer CPU consumes a lot, and the main reason why the searcher causes the CPU to soar is that it copies a large number of files at the locations included in the index, causing the Microsoft Windows Search searcher to start working frantically to index these new files.

Solution: You can customize the search location to include or exclude specific folders.

Open the control panel, find the indexing option, click on modify (M), and check the positions where no indexing is needed.

Cloud Content Search
Windows Search uses accounts previously added for other Microsoft applications to personalize the search experience.

Use your account to connect to Windows Search

Go to Start>Settings>Accounts>&Accounts.
Under “Accounts used by other applications”, select an option:
To add a personal account, select “Add Microsoft Account”.
To add an organization account, select “Add Work or School Account”.
View accounts connected to Windows Search

Select the search box on the Windows 10 taskbar or the magnifying glass icon on the Windows 11 taskbar, and then select “Options” in the upper right corner of the window that appears. Under “Connected Accounts”, select “Account Name and Account Type.”.

If Microsoft account settings are enabled for cloud content search, Windows Search will display results from personal OneDrive, Outlook, and other Microsoft services. If searching web pages or using Windows Search to get search suggestions, personalized results should be included. When using Bing search in the Windows search box, you can also earn Microsoft Rewards points. Learn more about Microsoft Rewards points

If the “Work or School Account” setting is enabled for cloud content search, Windows Search will display more results from OneDrive for Business, Outlook, SharePoint, and Microsoft search.

Search history on this device
Windows Search saves search history locally on your device, helping you find content faster. For example, if you have previously searched for an application, you may find that it ranks higher in search results.

Clear search history saved on the device

In Windows 10, go to Start>Settings>>&History.
In Windows 11, go to Start>Settings>&>Search permissions.
Under “History”, select the “Clear Device Search History” button.
Cloud search history
Use web search history related to Microsoft accounts

Ensure to log in to Windows using a Microsoft account.
Perform one of the following actions:
In Windows 10, go to Start>Settings>>&History.
In Windows 11, go to Start>Settings>&>Search permissions.
Under “Cloud Connection Content Search”, ensure that Microsoft account is “On”.
To view and delete search history associated with Microsoft accounts, go to the Microsoft Privacy Dashboard.

To include or exclude search history in search recommendations for Microsoft accounts, go to the Bing History page and log in with your Microsoft account.

Note that Windows Search will save your Microsoft search history to your work or school account. To view the history associated with your work or school account, go to the Bing History page and log in using your work or school account.

About search indexes:
What is building an index?
Establishing an index is the process of viewing files, emails, and other content on your computer and categorizing their information (such as words and metadata). When searching your computer after establishing an index, it looks at the term index to find results more quickly.

When you first run the index, it may take several hours to complete. Afterwards, the index will run in the background while you are using your computer, only re indexing and updating the data.

How to establish an index to make my search faster?
Similar to building indexes in books, having a numerical index allows your computer and applications to quickly locate content by searching for terms or common attributes such as the date of file creation. A fully established index can return the search answer in less than a second (such as “displaying all songs of Coldplay”), compared to several minutes without an index.

What information is indexed?
By default, all attributes of your file are indexed, including the file name and complete file path. For files with text, the content is indexed to allow you to search for words in the file.

The application you installed may also add its own information to the index to speed up search. For example, Outlook 2016 adds all emails that have been synced to your computer by default and uses an index for searching within the app.

Which applications use indexes?
Many built-in applications on your computer use indexes in certain aspects. File Explorer, Photos, and Groove all use it to access and track changes to your files. Microsoft Edge uses it to provide browser history results in the address bar. Outlook uses it to search for your emails. Cortana uses it to provide faster search results on your computer.

Many applications in the Microsoft Store also rely on indexes to provide the latest search results about your files and other content. Disabling indexes will result in these applications either running slowly or not running at all, depending on their degree of dependence on indexes.

Why does the index always run automatically on the computer?
Your Windows 10 computer is constantly monitoring changes to files and updating indexes with the latest information. To perform this operation, it opens the recently changed file, views the changes, and stores new information in the index.

Where is the index information stored?
All data collected from the index is stored locally on your computer. No data will be sent to any other computer or Microsoft. However, applications installed on computers may not be able to read the data in the index, so be careful with the applications you install and ensure that you trust the source.

How much space does the index use?
The experience is that the index is less than 10% of the size of the indexed file. For example, if you have 100 MB of text files, the index of these files will be less than 10 MB.

If you have a large number of very small files (<4 KB), or if you are indexing computer code, the index will account for a larger percentage. In both cases, the ratio of index size to file size will increase sharply. If you have a large number of small files and need to save space on your computer, consider deleting the location of these files in the index by going to the “Indexing Options” control panel page and selecting these modifications.

What languages can be indexed?
All language packs installed using Windows contain information indexed by that language. If you have files or other content using a language that is not installed on your computer, indexing will try to make it searchable, but this is not always possible.

To install more language packs to ensure that languages can be searched on your computer, go to Settings>&Language>Region&Language, and then select “Add Language”.

What type of file can be indexed?
For a list of file types that can be indexed, go to the “Indexing Options” control panel page and select Advanced>File Types.

How many parts of the index file information can I change?
Yes. There are two options for how much content to index a file: only index attributes or index attributes and content. If only the attributes are indexed, the index will not view the content of the file or make the content searchable. You will still be able to search by file name (not just file content).

Choosing not to index the content of a file can reduce the size of the index, but this makes it difficult to find the file in certain situations.

To select options for each file type, go to the “Indexing Options” control panel page and select Advanced>File Types.

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