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Advanced Query Syntax

[Windows Search 2.x is obsolete after Windows XP. Instead, use Windows Search.]

The Advanced Query Syntax (AQS) is used by Microsoft Windows Desktop Search (WDS) to help users and programmers better define and narrow their searches. Using AQS is an easy way to narrow searches and deliver better result sets. Searches can be narrowed by the following parameters:

  • File kinds: folders, documents, presentations, pictures and so on.
  • File stores: specific databases and locations.
  • File properties: size, date, title and so on.
  • File contents: keywords like "project deliverables," "AQS," "blue suede shoes," and so on.

Furthermore, search parameters can be combined using search operators. The remainder of this section explains the query syntax, the parameters and operators, and how they can be combined to offer targeted search results. The tables describe the syntax to use with WDS, as well as the properties that can be queried for each file kind displayed in the Windows Desktop Search results window.

Desktop Search Syntax

A search query can include one or more keywords, with Boolean operators and optional criteria. These optional criteria can narrow a search based on the following:

  • Scope or data store in which files reside
  • Kinds of files
  • Managed properties of files

The optional criteria, described in greater detail following, use the following syntax:

<scope name>:<value>

<file kind>:<value>

<property name>:<value>

Suppose a user wants to search for a document containing the phase "last quarter," created by John or Joanne, and that the user saved to the folder mydocuments. The query may look like this:

"last quarter" author:(john OR joanne) foldername:mydocuments

Scope: Locations and Data Stores

Users can limit the scope of their searches to specific folder locations or data stores. For example, if you use several email accounts and you want to limit a query to either Microsoft Outlook or Microsoft Outlook Express, you can use store:outlook or store:oe respectively.

Restrict Search by Data StoreUseExample
Desktopdesktopstore:desktop
Filesfilesstore:files
Outlookoutlookstore:outlook
Outlook Expressoestore:oe
Specific Folderfoldername or infoldername:MyDocuments or in:MyDocuments

 

If you have a protocol handler in place to crawl custom stores, like Lotus Notes, you can use the name of the store or protocol handler for the store. For example, if you implemented a protocol handler to include a Lotus Notes data store as "notes," the query syntax would be store:notes.

Common File Kinds

Users can also limit their searches to specific types of files, called file kinds. The following table lists the file kinds and offers examples of the syntax used to search for these kinds of files.

To Restrict by File Type:UseExample
All file typeseverythingkind:everything
Communicationscommunicationskind:communications
Contactscontactskind:contacts
E-mailemailkind:email
Instant Messenger conversationsimkind:im
Meetingsmeetingskind:meetings
Taskstaskskind:tasks
Notesnoteskind:notes
Documentsdocskind:docs
Text documentstextkind:text
Spreadsheetsspreadsheetskind:spreadsheets
Presentationspresentationskind:presentations
Musicmusickind:music
Picturespicskind:pics
Videosvideoskind:videos
Foldersfolderskind:folders
Folder namefoldername or infoldername:mydocs or in:mydocs
Favoritesfavoriteskind:favorites
Programsprogramskind:programs

 

Boolean Operators

Search keywords and file properties can be combined to broaden or narrow a search with operators. The following table explains common operators used in a search query.

Keyword/SymbolExamplesFunction
NOT

social NOT security

Finds items that contain social, but not security.

social –security

Finds items that contain social, but not security.

OR

social OR security

Finds items that contain social or security.

Quotation marks

"social security"

Finds items that contain the exact phrase social security.

Parentheses

(social security)

Finds items that contain social and security in any order.

>

date:>11/05/04

size:>500

Finds items with a date after 11/05/04.

Finds items with a size greater than 500 bytes.

<

date:<11/05/04

size:<500

Finds items with a date before 11/05/04.

Finds items with a size less than 500 bytes.

..

date:11/05/04..11/10/04

Finds items with a date beginning on 11/05/04 and ending on 11/10/04.

 

Note  

The operators NOT and OR must be in uppercase and cannot be combined in one query (e.g., social OR security NOT retirement).

Boolean Properties

Some file types let users search for files using Boolean properties, as described in the following table.

PropertyExampleFunction
is:attachmentreport is:attachmentFinds items that have attachments that contain report. Same as isattachment:true.
isonline:report isonline:trueFinds items that are online and which contain report.
isrecurring:report isrecurring:trueFinds items that are recurring and which containreport.
isflagged:report isflagged:trueFinds items that are flagged (Review, Follow up, for example) and which contain report.
isdeleted:report isdeleted:trueFinds items that are flagged as deleted (Recycle Bin or Deleted Items, for example) and which contain report.
iscompleted:report iscompleted:falseFinds items that are not flagged as complete and which contain report.
hasattachment:report hasattachment:trueFinds items containing report and having attachments
hasflag:report hasflag:trueinds items containing report and having flags.

 

Dates

In addition to searching on specific dates and date ranges using the operators described earlier, AQS allows relative date values (like today, tomorrow, or next week) and day (like Tuesday or Monday..Wednesday) and month (February) values.

Relative to:Syntax ExampleResult
Day

date:today

date:tomorrow

date:yesterday

Finds items with today's date.

Finds items with tomorrow's date.

Finds items with yesterday's date.

Week/Month/year

date:this week

date:last week

date:next month

date:past month

date:coming year

Finds items with a date falling within the current week.

Finds items with a date falling within the previous week.

Finds items with a date falling within the upcoming week.

Finds items with a date falling within the previous month.

Finds items with a date falling within the upcoming year.

 

Properties by File Kind

Users can search on specific properties of different file kinds. Some properties (like file size) are common to all files, while others are limited to a specific kind. Slide count, for example, is specific to presentations. The following tables list these properties by file kind.

File Kind: Everything

These are properties common to all file kinds. To include all types of files in a query, the syntax is:

kind:everything <property>:<value>

where <property> is a property listed below and <value> is the user-specified search term.

PropertyUseExample
Titletitle, subject or abouttitle:"Quarterly Financial"
Statusstatusstatus:complete
Datedatedate:last week
Date modifieddatemodified or modifiedmodified:last week
Importanceimportance or priorityimportance:high
Sizesizesize:> 50
Deleteddeleted or isdeletedisdeleted:true
Is attachmentisattachmentisattachment:true
Toto or tonameto:bob
Cccc or ccnamecc:john
Companycompanycompany:Microsoft
Locationlocationlocation:"Conference Room 102"
Categorycategorycategory:Business
Keywordskeywordskeywords:"sales projections"
Albumalbumalbum:"Fly by Night"
File namefilename or filefilename:MyResume
Genregenregenre:rock
Authorauthor or byauthor:"Stephen King"
Peoplepeople or withwith:(sonja or david)
Folderfolder, under or pathfolder:downloads
File extensionext or fileextext:.txt

 

Attachment

These are properties common to attachments. To limit the search to attachments only, the syntax is:

kind:attachment <property>:<value>

where <property> is a property listed below and <value> is the user-specified search term.

PropertyUseExample
Peoplepeople or withpeople:john or with:john

 

Contacts

These are properties common to contacts. To limit the search to contacts only, the syntax is:

kind:contacts <property>:<value>

where <property> is a property listed below and <value> is the user-specified search term.

PropertyUseExample
Job titlejobtitlejobtitle:CFO
IM addressimaddressimaddress:john_doe@msn.com
Assistant's phoneassistantsphoneassistantsphone:555-3323
Assistant nameassistantnameassistantname:Paul
Professionprofessionprofession:plumber
Nicknamenicknamenickname:Tex
Spousespousespouse:Debbie
Business citybusinesscitybusinesscity:Seattle
Business postal codebusinesspostalcodebusinesspostalcode:98006
Business home pagebusinesshomepagebusinesshomepage:www.microsoft.com
Callback phone numbercallbackphonenumbercallbackphonenumber:555-555-2121
Car phonecarphonecarphone:555-555-2121
Childrenchildrenchildren:Timmy
First namefirstnamefirstname:John
Last namelastnamelastname:Doe
Home faxhomefaxhomefax:555-555-2121
Manager's namemanagersnamemanagersname:John
Pagerpagerpager:555-555-2121
Business phonebusinessphonebusinessphone:555-555-2121
Home phonehomephonehomephone:555-555-2121
Mobile phonemobilephonemobilephone:555-555-2121
Officeofficeoffice:sample
Anniversaryanniversaryanniversary:1/1/06
Birthdaybirthdaybirthday:1/1/06
Web pagewebpagewebpage:www.microsoft.com

 

Note  

Phone numbers are indexed as entered. For example, if a user did not include a country or area code when entering the phone number, users will not be able to locate a contact if searching with country or area code in the phone number.

Communications

These are properties common to communications. To limit the search to communications only, the syntax is:

kind:communications <property>:<value>

where <property> is a property listed below and <value> is the user-specified search term.

PropertyUseExample
Fromfrom or organizerfrom:john
Receivedreceived or sentsent:yesterday
Subjectsubject or titlesubject:"Quarterly Financial"
Has attachmenthasattachments, hasattachmenthasattachment:true
Attachmentsattachments or attachmentattachment:presentation.ppt
Bccbcc, bccname or bccaddressbcc:dave
Cc addressccaddress or ccccaddress:john_doe@outlook.com
Follow-up flagfollowupflagfollowupflag:2
Due dateduedate or duedue:last week
Readread or isreadis:read
Is completediscompletedis:completed
Incompleteincomplete or isincompleteis:incomplete
Has flaghasflag or isflaggedhas:flag
Durationdurationduration:> 50

 

Calendar

These are properties common to calendars. To limit the search to calendars only, the syntax is:

kind:calendar <property>:<value>

where <property> is a property listed below and <value> is the user-specified search term.

PropertyUseExample
Recurringrecurring or isrecurringis:recurring
Organizerorganizer, by or fromorganizer:debbie

 

Documents

These are properties common to documents. To limit the search to documents only, the syntax is:

kind:documents <property>:<value>

where <property> is a property listed below and <value> is the user-specified search term.

PropertyUseExample
Commentscommentscomments:"needs final review"
Last saved bylastsavedbylastsavedby:john
Document managerdocumentmanagerdocumentmanager:john
Revision numberrevisionnumberrevisionnumber:1.0.3
Document formatdocumentformatdocumentformat:MIMETYPE
Date last printeddatelastprinteddatelastprinted:last week

 

Presentation

These are properties common to presentations. To limit the search to presentations only, the syntax is:

kind:presentation <property>:<value>

where <property> is a property listed below and <value> is the user-specified search term.

PropertyUseExample
Slide countslidecountslidecount:>20

 

Music

These are properties common to music files. To limit the search to music only, the syntax is:

kind:music <property>:<value>

where <property> is a property listed below and <value> is the user-specified search term.

PropertyUseExample
Bit ratebitrate, ratebitrate:192
Artistartist, by or fromartist:John Singer
Durationdurationduration:3
Albumalbumalbum:"greatest hits"
Genregenregenre:rock
Tracktracktrack:12
Yearyearyear:> 1980 < 1990

 

Picture

These are properties common to pictures. To limit the search to pictures only, the syntax is:

kind:picture <property>:<value>

where <property> is a property listed below and <value> is the user-specified search term.

PropertyUseExample
Camera makecameramakecameramake:sample
Camera modelcameramodelcameramodel:sample
Dimensionsdimensionsdimensions:8X10
Orientationorientationorientation:landscape
Date takendatetakendatetaken:yesterday
Widthwidthwidth:1600
Heightheightheight:1200

 

Video

These are properties common to videos. To limit the search to videos only, the syntax is:

kind:video <property>:<value>

where <property> is a property listed below and <value> is the user-specified search term.

PropertyUseExample
Namename, subjectname:"Family Vacation to the Beach 05"
Extext, fileextext:.avi

 

Related topics

Reference
Perceived Types
SchemaTable
Calling WDS from the Command Line
Calling WDS from Web Pages

 

 

Build date: 7/12/2013

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