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The Vista Search Folder

Marissa of Tallahassee, Florida writes:

I typed up some things for a project today, and had to look up a lot of things that were stored on my computer. This may not be something it’s possible to do, but is there any way to go back to searches without having to start all over?

Yes, Marissa, it is possible to do that, and I’m glad you had the inspiration to ask us!

I didn’t know it when I first installed Vista, but there is actually a folder called Searches in Vista, under your user name. And wait until you see what’s in it, and what you can do with the contents!

First, left-click on your Start menu button, and go up to the top of the right pane to your user name and left-click on that.

After you have clicked on your user name, your folder will open. This folder has everything in it that is on your computer with everything that is yours (specifically for your user name) organized in other folders. Your user folder will be split into two panes (left and right). You can open the Searches folder in either pane; there are two ways to do it.

1: In the left pane under your user name, go down the list until you see Searches. Left-click on the little + sign next to it (it’s on the left). This will expand the Search folder to show all of the folders that it has in it.

2: Look through the right pane until you locate the Searches folder. Note that because of the different ways we all like to sort our folders, our folders may not look the same; for instance, I sort mine by Name. If you can’t find it as shown in the screen shot below, don’t despair! Keep looking, it’s in there.

After you do as instructed in the above screen shot, this is what your user/Searches folder will look like:

Now check out the contents of your Searches folder! (Or mine, as we are going to do.)


Indexed locations
Recent E-mail
Recent Documents
Recent Pictures and Videos
Recent Music
Shared by Me
Recently Changed

Feel free to play around with how these folders display your results. You can sort them by date, type, date modified, e-mail address or recipient, or even by “A long time ago’ (see the screen shot below).

You may or may not have the same folders as I do; there may be more, there may be less. A friend of mine has a “keyboard shortcuts’ folder in her Searches folder and doesn’t know how it got there.

Let me interject something important here: You have a good collection of search folders that Vista came with, but you may want to create your own (we’ll go over how and why at a later date), because when it comes down to it, a Search folder is just a saved search.

So there you have it, Marissa. If you want to go back and see what you have done – at any given time, on any given date, in any given location, just go to your Searches folder, select one (or more) specific search options, and you’re good to go.

Thanks for writing!

~ Lori Cline