Today’s tip is for anyone who has trouble finding files. I’ll show you how to locate any document on your Windows 10 computer quickly and completely mouse-free.
This tip builds on three shortcuts. The first shortcut is pressing the Win key and the R key. The Win key (at least on my keyboard) looks like a Microsoft Windows logo and is between the Ctrl and the Alt keys on the left.
Try it now. Press and hold the Win key, then while holding the Win key down, press the R key. Then release both keys.
The Run box will pop up in the lower-left corner of your screen.
Remember Win + R = Run.
You may notice that there is already a command in the Open box. This is normal, it is the last command used previously. If the command you want is already in the box, you can press Enter to run it. The command is helpfully pre-selected. If you type anything other than Enter, the old command will be replaced. In the example to the right, you can see that I’ve typed a single period.
That period is the second shortcut. The help text says “Type the name of any program, folder, document…”, and period is a shortcut name that means “My User Folder”.
Let’s practice those two shortcuts together. The key sequence is Win + R to open the Run box, then type a single period, then press Enter. Windows File Explorer will launch with your user folder open. To the right is what mine looks like.
Now it’s time for the third shortcut, and this one works in many programs, not just File Explorer. It’s the function key for Search.
Notice the search box in the screenshot. It’s the box near the upper-right that says “Search David Finster”. That’s because I’m currently in my User Folder. If I was in a different folder, the search box would show “Search <whatever folder name>”. The shortcut for Search is F3 in the top row of your keyboard. When you press F3, your cursor will jump to the search box, ready for you to type a search keyword. You can type any word or phrase, here then press Enter. Windows will search for any file that contains the search term. It’s like a mini-Google on your computer.
Summary – Let’s put it all together.
This week I wrote a story called Pardo’s Push. I’ll use this tip to find my story without touching the mouse.
First, I type Win + R, then a single period and press Enter.
Next, I type F3 to jump to the Search box.
Finally, I type the word Pardo and press Enter.
I see this:
File Explorer highlighted the search term in yellow for me. Notice a new menu in pink called Search Tools. You can refine your search if you have too many results.
Try it yourself with the mouse, then try it with the keyboard shortcuts. Practice the keyboard shortcut a few times. I find it much faster with less friction when looking for files.