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Tip of the Day: Just Start Typing

Just START Typing

Windows’ Search function has had a rough history. Originally, it was so under-powered that there was a thriving market for programs to add search-related features to Windows.

While that market may still exist, the need is most definitely not what it once was. Windows Search has come a long, long way. In fact, it’s SO useful, it eliminates the need to use other Windows user-interface controls.

You’ll notice that I have Search (and Cortana) completely hidden on my taskbar. That’s because, while the UI might be a nice reminder that search exists, you don’t need it.

Just click on the Start icon (the Windows logo in the lower left of your screen), or press and release the Windows key on your keyboard, to bring up the Start menu.

Now start typing. Ignore what’s on the screen; just start typing as if you were typing into a search box. After your first keystroke, Windows assumes that’s exactly what you want to do. It replaces the Start menu with the search box, and search results appear as you type.

Too many clicks to get to your favorite program? Click on Start, type a few characters of the program’s name, and *poof*, there it is in the search results. Can’t remember where you saved that important document? Start typing its filename, and let Windows find it for you.

Better yet: can’t even find that program on the Start menu? (I’m looking at you, Internet Explorer.) Just start typing, and … there it is.

Bonus tip: if what you’re looking for is a program, and that program appears as the first search result, just press the Enter key to run it. For example: Click Start, type “cmd”, and press enter, and you’ll get an instant Command Prompt. No need for the old “Start->Run” box at all.

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8 comments on “Tip of the Day: Just Start Typing”

  1. Tried using this tip to find my Microsoft Office Outlook address book, which disappeared when I did the Windows 10 upgrade last week. Icon is there, but when you click on it an error message says the folder may have been moved or deleted.
    Found C:\Users\User\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook.pst
    It’s a program file – can’t access the data. In retirement I’m secretary of a couple of community groups, so email addresses are important. Any ideas how I can fix please.

    • Using the information you now have – the location of the file C:\Users\User\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook.pst – in Outlook do a File -> Open Data File, and see if you can open that file.

      • Did that – clicked on “personal folders” (that address) and it tells me it is a system file and won’t let me access it.

        • I’m confused… “Personal Folders” is inside the PST – that implies that the PST was located and opened successfully. Can you email a screenshot of the error message you’re seeing to and I’ll see if I can figure out more.

  2. One additional feature of that search is that if you don’t know the full name of the file you are looking for, you can type a part of it even if you don’t know the first part of the name. For example, if the file you are looking for is called My trip to Bora Bora.docx, typing Bora or trip will bring that file and any files which contain that typed text up in the search results.

  3. How did you reduce the size of Cortana. I’ve looked at Cortana’s settings and the taskbar settings and couldn’t find anything. I do use the type to search but not Cortana and it is a space hog.

    • What “size” are you talking about? The amount of space it takes on the taskbar? Right click the taskbar and there will be options to show or not show it. (Can’t make it smaller, just show it or not.) If you mean the size of the program in RAM, that’s not something we have control over.


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