How to Search Windows 8.1

There are some things that go beyond being considered great add-on features. These things are the foundation of your experience with any device. Rest assured that the mouse works in the same predictable way year after year. You know where to go to surf the web because it has been in the same program since Windows 95. If you’ve used Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 operating system for a long time, you know what kind of change it can bring. Windows 8.1 does a lot of things right, but search isn’t one of them.

Here’s how to search in Windows 8.1 using the built-in search engine and Bing Smart Search.

Before we move on to the actual dump, it’s important to understand a few things about Windows 8.1 if you haven’t already. First, Windows 8.1 is a free Windows 8 update available directly from the Windows Store. Before what you see on your laptop, desktop or tablet will look like what we have here, you will need to download it from the Windows Store. Download the update if you can – it’s probably a smaller upgrade from Microsoft than you’re used to. Upgrading shouldn’t break any of your Desktop programs, and you’ll get new versions of all Windows Store apps made by Microsoft.

Search Windows 8.1 Desktop

Windows 8.1 is actually two interfaces superimposed on each other. The interface you’re probably most familiar with is Windows 8.1 Desktop. It’s the area that has been on Windows for years. You can assign backgrounds to it. There is a Taskbar to switch between applications and programs open in different Windows.

How to Search in Windows 8 (1)

Searching the Windows 8.1 Desktop didn’t change much. You can search for specific folders by locating them in your Desktop or This PC area. To get to This PC, open any folder on your Desktop or pinned to the Taskbar. After opening a window, look for the This PC button on the left side of your window. You may have to scroll down to find it. Click This PC. Now use the Search box in the upper right corner of your Window.

How to Search in Windows 8 (2)

Whatever folder you are in, remember that it is the folder you are looking for. You search the entire computer on the Desktop by simply being in the This PC field.

Search on the Windows 8.1 Start Screen

The second interface in Windows 8.1 is the Start Screen and works more like your smartphone or tablet than the Desktop. Improvements in the way the Start Screen handles search mean you don’t have to search through individual folders to find something you’re looking for. Moreover, Microsoft has integrated the Bing search engine into Windows 8.1. So you don’t have to find a web browser window and open Bing to search the web.

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Press the Windows key on your keyboard or the Windows button at the bottom of your touch-enabled device’s screen.

Welcome to the Start Screen. Now tap or click on the magnifying glass next to your screen’s power button.

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This is the Search Charm and you can find almost anything here. Most often it is used to quickly launch applications. Others use it to find lost pictures and documents. Microsoft hopes you’ll use the Search Charm to find things on the internet.

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Start typing the name of what you’re trying to find and the Search Charm will immediately start narrowing down the results. Again, document names, application names, websites and even settings can be accessed from here. Click or tap on it to narrow down what type of search results you want. When you see a result you are interested in, click on it at the bottom of the search box or press enter on your keyboard. Pressing Enter will take you to another interface.

This is Bing SmartSearch and from here you can see all search results from your computer and the web. You will find your documents immediately on the left. Swipe to the right and you’ll find website listings, images, and videos.

How to Search in Windows 8 (7)

You don’t have to go back to the Start Screen to search your computer. In fact, searching for most apps downloaded from the Windows Store actually requires you to use the Search Charm. When you’re in an app and can’t find a way to search, move your mouse cursor to the upper-right corner to reveal the Charms Bar. Touch users should place their finger on the right side of their screen and swipe left to reveal the Charms Bar.

Now tap or click.

How to Search in Windows 8 (8)

Tap or click the Everywhere button and select the name of the app you’re in if it’s not already highlighted.

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Good luck using search in Windows 8.1. It’s a bit confusing, but pretty powerful once you manage to get the basics out.