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Windows File Explorer Search with Wildcards

Using File Explorer to search for folders and files. Use of wildcards. Hard to locate documentation.


  • Put search terms in quotes.

  • Wildcards: * = one or more alphanumeric characters.

Microsoft Documentation (

The “Accepted answer” links to

Search Results Examples

Search term

Search Returns


“dataself etl”

DataSelf ETL Plus, DataSelf_ETL_Plus.exe,
DataSelf ETL Plus.exe
DataSelf ETL Plus 32bits.exe

Win Server

Search Tools / Search Tab


Search tab in File Explorer. Click on the search field to open (2)


Use double quotes around what you're searching for. For example, searching for "file1.txt" will only show file1.txt. You can also use wildcards in this, "*1.txt" will give you all files that end with 1.txt and start with whatever. –

If you need a wildcard for just one character, using ? will work. searching for "file?1.txt" will return file01.txt and file21.txt but not file1231.txt, whereas the * will.

my advice is TURN INDEXING OFF!  Searches might be slower, but they're at least accurate.  Windows 10 search indexing (or default out-of-the-box file searching) simply doesn't seem to be working as advertised. –

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