Most of us are used to being able to search for a specific phrase in Google by putting the phrase in “quotation marks”. This is a simple thing to do, and very useful for narrowing down searches.

In databases you can use Boolean search terms such as ‘AND’, ‘OR’, etc. These are also mostly self-explanatory – with the caveat that you NEED TO USE CAPITALS or else they will not work.

What is not so obvious is how to search for a phrase in Windows Explorer. It is quite simple, but not at all intuitive. As usual, there are answers out there, and I found a forum post by a certain ‘robarthur’ with the explanation.

Here are the steps:

  1. Open Windows Explorer
  2. Type the following string in the search box: content:”your phrase”
    • (Replace ‘your phrase’ with whatever you are searching for)
  3. You will see the colour of the text changes to light blue – I assume this means Windows recognises this as a specific instruction
  4. You will then see the results below in the usual manner

Here is a screenshot:

Windows search for phrase screenshot

Edit 30/9/2019: I have just noticed comments saying that this doesn’t work. I just tested it (Windows 10, 64bit) and it still works for me. Not sure why it’s not working for some people. Maybe just make sure you have the colon and the quotation marks all in the right place.