Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

Official blog for the Windows Live Digital Memories Experience team

Quick Search in the Windows Photo Gallery

Quick Search in the Windows Photo Gallery

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In addition to using the Navigation Tree for finding your photos and videos in the Photo Gallery, you can also use the Quick Search feature. Quick Search allows you to filter down the items in view to only those that match the text that you type.

Example: If I’m looking at all of my photos, and I want to see only photos of flowers, I can start typing ‘flowers’ in the Quick Search box, and any photo that doesn’t match ‘flowers’ in some way will fall away from view as I type. In fact, I don’t even need to type the full name. After only a few keystrokes, I have the results I’m looking for.

That’s because I have tagged those photos with the ‘Flowers’ Tag. But even if I hadn’t tagged those photos, I could still use Quick Search. Quick Search will attempt to match any words that it finds in any of the following places:

  • Tags
  • File Names
  • File Paths
  • Captions

The word that you type in the Quick Search box doesn’t have to be the first word in the string you’re trying to match, but it does have to be at the beginning of the string in order for it to match (if I type ‘wers’, it won’t match photos tagged with ‘flowers’, because we don’t look for matches in the middle of words).

Power user tip: It’s not necessary to use ‘wildcards’ (like * or %) in your searches. We treat every string like there’s a wildcard at the end of it. Any characters you type are matched literally.

If you search for multiple words, Quick Search will only return photos that match all of the words you type. Example: If I wanted to see only pictures of flowers and butterflies together, I could type ‘flowers butterflies’ in the Quick Search box.

Power user tip: You rarely have to type the full word to match. Typing ‘fl bu’ was all that I had to type on my machine to match all of the photos that contained both flowers and butterflies.

Quick Search is so effective that I can often leave my Gallery on the ‘All Pictures’ node in the Nav Tree, and just use Quick Search to find the photos I’m looking for. It can also be used to further filter down the results from any selection in the Nav Tree.

Some Beta 2 users have noticed that the Quick Search feature in other parts of Windows Vista (like Explorer, or Windows Media Player for example), allow you to perform more advanced searches than in the Photo Gallery (for example, being able to search for files that don’t include a certain tag). Due to differences in our architecture, we were unable to get these advanced search capabilities into this release of the Photo Gallery, but we’d be interested in hearing how you might use some of these features if we included them in a future release.

Happy Searching!

Scott Dart – Program Manager