The present version of Windows 10’s Start Menu can only search for files located on your desktop and in libraries. Users won’t have to put up with that for much longer, because the upcoming version is set to search for files in every corner of your PC system. The Windows Search Index facilitates the search function.

Windows 10’s Start Menu will be able to search everywhere on your PC starting from April 2019 with the new version. The latest version codenamed 19H1 has already been made available to Windows Insiders as part of the Insider Preview Build 8267. Based on the data from beta testers, we have some precise details of what to expect in Windows update 19H1.

Existing Problem with Windows 10’s Start Menu

All thanks to Bing, Windows 10’s Start Menu can search the internet in its entirety. But Bing doesn’t function offline, and thus the Start Menu cannot perform a full PC search. Using the Start Menu only achieves a search in your PC’s libraries (i.e., Downloads, Documents, Music, Videos, and Pictures) as well as the Desktop.

Are you interested in finding a file stored elsewhere on your system? It sucks, because the “Best Match” only performs a Bing web search. And totally overlooks all other sections of the PC.

Changes being Made

Come April 2019, when the new version of Windows is released, you will be able to use the Start Menu to search every nook and crevice of your hard drive. Using the Windows Search Indexer, your Start Menu will search the entire hard drive. Surprisingly, Windows Search Indexer has been functional for a while, but the Windows 10 Start Menu overlooked it. That is, until now.

You will need to turn on Windows Search Indexer. Go to Settings -> Cortana -> Searching Windows. When you notice My Files, click on “Enhanced (Recommended)”. Cortana, also known as the Start Menu, will search the entire system.

According to Microsoft, selecting the “Enhanced” option will “begin the one-time indexing process. It will take about 15 minutes for the search to begin returning these additional files in results. If you have lots of files, it may take longer. Make sure you plug in before you start, indexing is a resource-intensive activity.”

At the end of the indexing process, go back to Cortana (Start Menu) and start your search to find files anywhere on your hard drive. The automatic update is kept running in the background, and the search happens instantly.

If you’re not interested in searching inside specific folders, click to “Add an excluded folder”. Add all folders you want to exclude from your search, and the search will begin without those selected folders. A good time to use the Exclude Folder option is when a particular folder has most files named with the keyword you are using in your search, but you already know what they contain, or you want to exclude sensitive files from your search. Also, this feature works well if you would like to exclude folders with frequently changing files, as this will help prevent Windows from indexing such files.

To open the existing Indexing Options desktop tool, use the “Advanced Search Indexer Settings” located at the bottom of the screen.

Microsoft is finally answering the plight by making Windows 10 Start Menu search everywhere on the PC. And at the same time, adding more functionality, such as allowing you to uninstall more built-in apps and offering better Spectre patches to make your PC faster.

How can I find my files on Windows 10 for Now?

For now, you have to rely on searching deeper. Although Windows already has the search features, Microsoft hides them pretty well. In the interim, pending the April 2019 release, you can use File Explorer’s advanced search features to do a full search.

You can also opt to search for your files using File Explorer’s search box. This method will even find files that the Start menu fails to locate. The only downside to this method of searching is that it’s painstakingly slow, because Windows carefully searches your entire PC.

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Alternatively, you can enable the Search Index to speed up your search time. To do so, go to the Start Menu and type “Indexing” to launch the “Indexing Options” shortcut.

To open the Windows Index additional locations, click on “Modify” and check the locations you want. For example, you can opt to use the whole C: drive as your Windows Index. To do that, after clicking the “Modify” button, check C: and click on “Ok” for Windows to start indexing your new locations.

Using the File Explorer search option is still much faster. But, choosing to Index locations in the Start Menu search feature will be ignored –that is until the next Windows 10 release.

Although Windows 10’s Start Menu search option is pretty much useless at the moment, File Explorer comes with several handy options. During a search, you can click the “Search” tab on the panel at the top of the window to open some Advanced Search options. Now you can even search for specific folders using filters to search by Date Modified, Size, and Type.

Typing advanced search operators directly into the search box is now possible. You can go as far as saving your searches, which creates virtual folders. In the future, double-click one to quickly conduct a search.