Putting Windows 8’s Search through its paces (Part 1)

Under the regime imposed by Windows 8 there are two ways you can Search your computer. You can use the new Metro UI environment calling up the Charms menu or alternatively, and this is far better, search using through Windows Explorer. More of that in a later article where I’ll investigate the new Search features of Windows Explorer.

Like its predecessor in Windows 7 the new Search is pretty powerful and searching using Charms menu is mostly satisfactory.

A note about Charms: In an earlier article on Windows 8 Preview I queried Microsoft’s usage of the term “Charms” to describe the menu in the Metro UI interface. Since then I have found the answer. On this website www.neowin.net/news/ the explanation is as follows: “Microsoft describes “charms” as the menu of icons and commands invoked by flicking from the right edge on tablets . . .” I still reckon this is a weird name for it. Some users find no charm in it at all!

Searching using the Charms menu

The Charms menu is not always readily accessible. Usually you can get the it by pressing the Windows key but if this fails press Win Key + C.

Once the Charms Menu pops up, select Search. Search opens, displaying a list of locations where you can search. They are Apps, Settings, Files and Internet Explorer. Searching in the latter is a new and interesting way to find information on the Web. When Windows 8 Beta arrives, I’m sure you will be able to search for Apps in Microsoft’s App shop. Who knows!

Searching Apps

These are my observations about using the Search feature within the Metro UI. Search worked fine for Apps displaying all of them listed alphabetically. Pressing the Esc key closes the Search box on the right and displays all available Apps in full screen view. 

To find a specific App on this extensive list, use the mouse to access the scroll bar on the lower part of your screen. If you are fortunate to have a touch screen, flick to move across the list.

 Next, I decided to look for a specific App, Paint. In the search box as soon as I typed paint, I immediately got a result displaying the  Paint’s icon.

Tip! Search is useful if you have heaps of Apps loaded and haven’t bothered to add them to the Metro UI screen or to pin them to the Taskbar in Windows Explorer.

To do so, right-click on the App icon you want. A toolbar appears at the bottom of the screen containing two buttonsAdvanced and Pin. Selecting Advanced displays four options including one to pin the App to the Taskbar. If you choose Pin this adds the App to the Apps listed in Metro UI.

Back in the Metro screen you can unpin any App at any time by right clicking it and selecting Unpin. The other options include making the App smaller or larger!

Searching Settings

Settings cover a wide range of topics about various Windows features. I used it to find out information on Homegroup. When I typed in Homegroup I received some useful information about it including Trouble Shooters. To open one, simply click on the item.

Searching Files

When I first tried Search in Files I thought I’d be clever and see if I could find all my “doc” files. I typed in *.doc and clicked the magnifying icon. This drew a blank. Next I tried *.jpg. Same result!

Desperate I tried an individual name, “Charms” and finally got a result. This included a range of files, docx files,  jpg etc. It was rather a hit and miss affair. There appears to be a bug in this aspect of Search.

Thinking back on my efforts I realised I should have been more patient to give Windows 8 time to find the files. It is certainly slow!

Searching the Internet

Within the Search menu is an options to search the Internet. I tried it out typing “charms” in the Search box. Internet Explorer opened displaying numerous topics on my chosen subject.

Now this is really neat as you can be working away in various projects, decide you want that bit of information and quickly grab stuff from the Web.

Conclusions: Microsoft obviously still have to sort out “bugs” when searching for Files but in my case it may have been just bad luck. It would be interesting to hear other user’s experiences when searching for files.

Given the imminent and advertised release  of Windows 8 Beta for February 2012 I’m hopeful all will be running smoothly.


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