MS-Word / Getting Started

Locating Lost Files

Everyone's done it, we have all lost files. Either you cannot remember where you saved it, or you cannot remember if you saved it. Perhaps you cannot remember what you have named it. With the new features in Office 2007, you stand a better chance of finding the file now than you did in the past. If you can remember anything about the file, anything at all, you can probably locate it with a little time and effort.

Using the Office Interface

Remember the olden days when you'd open an attachment in Outlook (or Outlook Express), save the file, and it would default to some obscure folder in some temporary holding area on your hard drive? Heaven help you if you saved your work there, you'd never see it again. Well, those days are gone. Now when you open an attachment in Outlook and save it, My Documents opens by default and you are prompted to save there. Small changes like this make using Office 2007 easier than ever. You will notice that, unless you specifically configure it otherwise, the Office applications will save to an intuitive folder, or the last folder you saved to.

All of the new Office applications provide access to the File menu with a button in the top-left corner, and clicking that button shows the last files you have worked on. You can easily find forgotten files there. Not only are the latest files listed, if you hover the mouse over them, you can see in what folder they are stored.

Information is available in all Office applications from the File menu button, including recent files.

If you are missing a file, try the tips in the following list to locate it, often, you will find what you are looking for with these techniques. Later you will learn about additional options. First, try these:

  1. Look in the My Documents folder and subfolders.
  2. Look in your Network drive(s).
  3. Look in your external hard drive. Open files if you aren't sure what they are. You can always close them.
  4. Click Start, then Search, and type a word you think may be in the document's title. (There is more on using Search in the next section.)
  5. Click the File menu button of the application you think you created the file in, and look at the list of recent documents.
  6. Click Start, and select Recent Documents. If the file is recent, it may be there.
  7. Look through your recent backups.

Using the Operating System's Search Tool

Search features in Windows and the upcoming Windows Vista are highly effective when searching for missing files. In Windows XP, you will use the Search option in the Start menu, in Vista you will use the new Search box in the Start menu.

Microsoft plans to release Windows Desktop Search for Windows XP (now currently in beta) for users of Windows XP. With that product, you will have access to the new search features you will also find in Vista, the features mentioned in this section.

Searching in Windows XP

In Windows XP, Search is found in the Start menu. To perform a search using Windows XP:

  1. Click Start, and then Search. This opens the Search Results dialog box.
  2. Under What do you want to search for?, select All files and folders.
  3. In the All or part of the file name: window, type *.doc to search for all files with a file name that ends with the .doc extension. These are Word document files and then in the Look in: window, select the disk drive you'd like to search. By selecting an entire drive, you will see all of the .doc files on it. Note that you can also search a folder, although this is not nearly as comprehensive as searching the entire drive.
  4. Click Search.

You will probably find many Word documents.

Clicking Start and then Search opens the Search Results window. Our Search Window settings are the standard settings that are the default for Windows XP. If your screen does not look like the one in the figure, click Change preferences, Change files and folders search behavior, then select Standard. Your Search Results window will now reflect the settings we are using.

Refining Search Results

With the search complete, you can now right-click in an empty area of the Search Results window, point to View, and then select from Thumbnails, Tiles, Icons, List, or Details. You can further cull the results from the View tab, by pointing to Arrange Icons By, and selecting from Name, Folder, Size, Type, or Modified. As you'll find out quickly, you probably have hundreds if not thousands of Word documents on your computer, and understanding how to organize the results becomes quite important.

Searching for Specific Words or Phrases

In addition to searching for entire documents, you can choose to type a word or phrase that you know is inside a specific file. For instance, if you know you created a document that had to do with "the third-generation widget," typing in that phrase will produce a list of documents that contain it. Here is an example of searching for a specific keyword:

  1. If you have already performed a search, click the Back button to return to the previous search screen.
  2. If you are starting a new search:
    • Click Start, and then Search. This opens the Search Results dialog box.
    • Under What do you want to search for?, select All files and folders.
  3. Under A word or phrase in the file, type the word you are looking for.
  4. Under Look in, select the drive or folder to search.
  5. Optionally, type *.doc to search document files, *.ppt to search PowerPoint files, and so on.
  6. In the end click Search.

You can search for a specific file type by putting an * (asterisk) in front of the file's suffix. Common file type searches include *.doc (documents), *.jpg (images, generally photos), *.xls (Excel files), *.ppt (PowerPoint files), and *.accdb (Access database files). You can see a list of file types by going to and searching for file name extensions.

Using Advanced Search Options

You can change the Search function's behavior by changing the default preferences for a search from Standard to Advanced. Once you make the change, you will have quicker access to advanced search features. To change the preferences to Advanced:

  1. Click Start, and Search.
  2. Under What do you want to search for?, click Change preferences.
  3. Click Change files and folders behavior.
  4. Click Advanced. (Note that you can repeat these steps to return to Standard mode if desired.) and in the end click OK.

Once you have changed your Search preferences to include Advanced search features, you can incorporate even more detail into your searches. Here are a few examples of how you can use these options to successfully find a missing file:

  1. Click the arrow next to When was it modified? to narrow your search to the last week, month, year, or specific dates you choose. This is optimal if you know you created the file last week or last month, but cannot remember anything else about it.
  2. Click the arrow next to What size is it? to narrow your search to a specific size file. This is a good choice if you know the file is extremely large or small, so much so that it would stand out from other files on your computer.
  3. Click the arrow next to More advanced options to configure where to search, including system folders, hidden files and folders, tape backup, and more.
  4. Experiment with the other two options: Other search options and Change preferences.

Searching in Vista

Vista offers a new and improved search technology that will revolutionize searching forever. As with Windows XP, you can search from the Start menu. With Vista though, the Search box is integrated into the Start menu. Here, we have searched for Office. Notice the categories and the search results. This search offers three: Programs, Favorites and History, and Files. You can open any of these by clicking it.

When you type something into the Search box, you will have two additional options: Search the Internet or Search the computer. Selecting Search the computer opens a window where you can further define your search. For example we have searched for the word "FILE" on a network computer named FINE. Notice you can search just about anywhere. The options for searching are endless.

The last thing we'd like to say about Vista and its new search features is that Microsoft Office and Vista go hand in hand. Just click the File menu button of any application, click Open, and the Open window will have a search box you can use to locate the file you want. This Open window looks nothing like the old Open window you are used to dealing with.

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