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Windows 8.1: The Missing Manual by David Pogue

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Where Windows Looks

Windows doesn’t actually scrounge through every file on your computer. Searching inside Windows’ own operating-system files and all your programs, for example, would be pointless to anyone but programmers. All that useless data would slow down searches and bulk up the invisible index file.

What Windows does index is everything in your Personal folder: email, pictures, music, videos, program names, entries in your People and Calendar apps, Office documents, and so on. It also searches all your libraries (Libraries), even if they contain folders from other computers on your network.

Similarly, it searches offline files that belong to you, even though they’re stored somewhere else on the network. Finally, it indexes everything on the Start screen.

Note

Windows indexes all the drives connected to your PC, but not other hard drives on the network. You can, if you wish, add other folders to the list of indexed locations manually (Adding New Places to the Index).

Windows does index the Personal folders of everyone else with an account on your machine (Chapter 24), but you’re not allowed to search them. So if you were hoping to search your spouse’s email for phrases like “Meet you at midnight,” forget it.

If you try to search anything Windows hasn’t incorporated into its index—in a Windows system folder, for example, or a hard drive elsewhere on the network—a message appears. It lets you know that because you’re working beyond the index’s wisdom, the search is going to be ...

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