One of the features in Windows 8.1 that deserves some attention is
the new comprehensive Search app. Not only will help you to find files and applications on your PC or SkyDrive, but it can also seek out
information on the web by linking directly to Bing. And, if that wasn’t enough,
the Search app has two ways to display the results: 1) a very Windows-like results
display that appears on the Search bar, and 2) a Windows 8 app-like full-screen presentation
that provides all the results. There’s also a detailed settings page that allows you configure how the Search app functions. Let’s take a closer look.

Accessing the new Search app

There are actually several ways that you can access the
Search app in Windows 8.1. If you’re on the Start Screen, you can simply begin
typing your search term and the Search bar will appear. From anywhere in
Windows, you can also instantly access the Search bar by pressing [Windows] + [S]. Lastly, you can move your mouse pointer to the upper right corner of the
screen to display the Charms bar, and then click the Search charm.

Regardless of how you access it, the Search bar provides you
with a simple user interface that appears on the right side of the screen
(Figure A).

Figure A

 

 

The Search bar appears on the
right side of the screen.

Choosing what to search

By default, Windows 8.1’s Search app is configured to search
Everywhere. However, you can narrow the scope of your search by clicking the arrow
and choosing Settings, Files, Web images or Web videos (Figure B).

Figure B

 

 

By default, Search is set to
Everywhere, but you can narrow the scope.

Search Results

As soon as you start typing, results will begin appearing in
the Search bar (Figure C). As you can see, I’m using the Everywhere setting.
This initial set of results represents the most likely candidates for what you’re looking for. If you see what you need here, just click it, and your search
is complete.

Figure C

 

 

The initial results appear in the
Search bar.

However, if you’d like to see more, just click the
magnifying glass icon in the Search text box, and you’ll see the full screen
presentation (Figure D). As you can see, when using the Everywhere setting, the
first page of full-screen results shows items found on your PC —  it displays the
first few items in each category and provides a link that you can use to
see the rest of the results. For example, this search turned up 2 apps, 6
settings, 1834 documents, and 35 photos and videos.

Figure D

 

 

From the full screen page you can
access all of the search results.

If you click the See all 1834 documents link, you’ll see a
full page, scrolling display of all the matching file results. Hover your
mouse pointer over a file to see a pop-up that shows file derails, including the
full path to the file (Figure E). To return to the full search results page,
just click the back arrow at the top left.

Figure E

 

 

Hover over a file, and you’ll see
more details.

Again, when using the Everywhere setting, you can scroll
through all of the results. In this case, the next page of results shows the
most highly-ranked web sites for the search term and results from the
Windows Store (Figure F).

Figure F

 

 

You’ll also find results from the Windows Store.

As you continue to scroll through the results, you’ll find
links to other web sites related to your search term. You’ll also find a set of
links that allow you to conduct Related searches and the ability to
search for images and videos that are associated with your search term (Figure
G
).

Figure G

 

 

You’ll find that you can conduct
additional searches for image and videos related to your search term.

Configuring the Search app

The Search app provides you with a number of configuration
settings that you can use to make search work that way that you want it to. To
begin, press [Windows] + [I] to access the Settings bar, and then click Change
PC settings. Next, select Search and apps from the menu. You’ll then see the
Search configuration page (Figure H.)

Figure H

 

 

The Search app provides you with a
number of configuration settings.

From the top, you can clear your search history by clicking
the Clear button and working through a quick confirmation dialog. You can
manage your Microsoft Advertising options by clicking the link that takes you
to the Your privacy and Microsoft personalized ads page, where you can sign into your Microsoft Account and adjust
your personalized ad settings. You can disable the Bing search results feature, or you can adjust how Bing delivers its results. You adjust your SafeSearch
level from the default of Moderate to either Strict of Off. If you occasionally
use a metered connection, an Internet connection where you get billed for the
amount of data you use, you can adjust how Bing results are delivered. Finally, you
can investigate the Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 privacy statement.

What’s your take?

Have you used or configured Windows 8.1’s new Search app? If
so, what you do you think about the features that it brings to Windows 8.1? As
always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please
take a moment to leave a comment in the discussion thread below.