In my October 4hth column “Investigating
Windows Vista’s new Search features
” I described to you how the new
Search tool stands ready to revolutionize the way that we search our computers
for data. While the new Search tool is definitely the one of the main
centerpieces of what Microsoft calls Vista’s new information visualization,
organization, and search features, there is a smaller component of Vista’s
Search tool built right into Windows Explorer. Called the Quick Search, this subtool is designed to help you to quickly zero in on the
file that you’re looking for in Windows Explorer. The enhanced Column Header
controls are another new organization feature built into the new Windows

In this column, I’ll take a look at Windows Vista’s new Windows
Explorer organization and search features and describe how they will help you
make quick work of locating your files.

The Quick Search box

As I mentioned, the Quick Search feature is built right into
Windows Explorer. More precisely, it is referred to as the Quick Search Box and
exists in the upper-right corner of the window. Once you open a folder you can
start typing the first few letters of the filename that you’re looking for in
the Quick Search Box and the Windows Explorer will immediately begin filtering
through the list of files displayed in the main portion of the window, as shown
in Figure A.

Figure A

The Quick Search Box will allow you quickly narrow down the list of files
displayed in Windows Explorer.

While typing the first few letters of the filename is the
most obvious way to use the Quick Search feature, it’s not the only way. In
fact, the Quick Search feature will work with almost any letter in the file
name. For example, if I typed the letters “:Wi”
in the Quick Search Box for the folder shown in Figure A, I would end up with a
filtered list that contains the Broken Windows and Brody Wilson files as they
both have the letters “Wi” in the file
names. The Quick Search feature is so finely tuned that I can even type the
letters “ok” and end up with a filtered list that contains the Broken
Arrow, Broken Windows, and Brokerage files.

If you look closely at the Quick Search Box, you’ll notice
that there is a dropdown arrow next to the magnifying glass icon. When you
click that arrow, a menu appears that contains Search the Computer and Search
the Internet. Selecting either of these items provides you with quick and easy
access to the full featured Search tool that will launch in a separate window.

The Column Header controls

The other feature built into Windows Explorer that is
designed to help you quickly filter through a list of file names and locate one
file in particular are the new Column Header controls. As you probably know, in
Windows XP’s Windows Explorer, the column headers only appear when you’re using
the Details view and you can simply click the column header to sort, or
arrange, the files in the list according to the column header that you clicked.

In Windows Vista’s Windows Explorer the column headers
appear in every one of the views and still allow you to sort the files like in
Windows XP’s Windows Explorer; however, each column header is accompanied by a
dropdown menu that provides additional options. Each Column Header control
provides a menu of options that are appropriate for that particular column

For example, when you click the Type Column Header control,
you’ll see a menu of additional filtering/sorting options, as shown in Figure

Figure B

The new Column Header controls allow you to quickly filter and sort the
list of files in Windows Explorer.

In the case of the Type column header shown here, the Stack
by Type control simply organizes the list by the by the file type, while the
Stack by Group control divides the list of files into separate groups according
to file type. These two controls then act as toggles allowing you to turn them
on and off at will.

The second half of this particular menu contains several
check boxes for the various file types in the folder. Selecting any one of the
check boxes will, on the fly, remove all other file types from the list and
show only the files of the type you’ve selected. For example, if you select the
Wordpad Document check box, Windows Explorer will only display the Wordpad
Documents, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

Selecting a check box in the Column Header control menu allows you to
instantly filter the file list in Windows Explorer.”


Now, as I close, it’s important that I point out that you
have to take this information with a grain of salt, considering the fact that
Windows Vista’s release date is over a year a way and the operating system,
while more solidified than it has been prior to this point in time, is still in
a state of flux

As always, if you have comments or information to share
about Windows Explorer’s Quick Search box and the Column Header controls,
please take a moment to drop by the Discussion area and let us hear.