6 techniques to find files and folders in SharePoint using the search bar

How to find files and folders in SharePoint

Searching techniques in SahrePoint are incredibly powerful. You will be able to find files in seconds without clicking on a plethora of folders. These techniques show you how to search the contents of files as well as the name of files. You can furhter filter your search results by file type and modify date

Where to start

Firstly log on to Microsoft 365 online. 

You will see the app launcher (aka the waffle) in the top left hand corner of your broswer once you have logged on. After the waffle you will see Microsoft 365 and then the search bar at the top of the page. You can start searching here, there is no need to got to a specifc SharePoint site, a spicific Sharepoint librabry nor SharePoint folder. Nor do you have to go to One Dirve. The results of the search will bring back files from all these location, instantly.

All these methods detailed here work with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Photos, Loop, One Note, Videos, Folders and PDF files



Search only the content of a Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF file

This first method allows you to search only the content of files be they Word documents, Excel workbooks or PowerPoint presentations

In the SharePoint saerch bar at the top of the page type the following:


This will find any file contain the work awaken

Here you can see the name of the Word document is Songs and is stored on One Drive. The word awaken is contained in this file

Method 2

Use quotations

Search for an exact phrase either in a document or in the title of the document

Here were searching for a PDF file that contains the following:

“microsoft 365, Office 365, Enterprise Mobility + Security, and Windows 11 Subscriptions”

The key to using this method is to enclose the phrase in quotations ” ” (SHIFT + 2) 

The name of the PDF is Modern Work plan Comparison Enterprise

Method 3

Use Boolean search techniques AND, OR and NOT

Using the boleean search techniques in SharePoint is amazing and possibly the most powerful one to learn.

The operators AND, OR and NOT must be in uppercase

This search string is asking for all files that contain all three words Power, bi and redwing.  You can add one or multiple AND to your search criteria

The search string here is asking to find files that cotain the word semiconductor or lease. You can use multiple OR criteria

This search string will find any file with sway but exclude those with 365

You can combine the boleean search operators and use them in any order as you see here

Method 4

Filter your search by file type

All your searches can be refined by filtering for file type

You have the option to filter for one or more of the following

  • PowerPoint
  • Word
  • Excel
  • OneNote
  • Loop
  • PDF
  • Videos
  • Photos
  • Web
  • Folders

Method 5

Filter your search for Folders

To search for folders and file types not listed in method 4 filter by other

Method 6

You can refine your search in SharePoint by defining when the file was last modified

You select the default options below or specifiy specific dates