The Search Charm

How to Invoke It

  • Summon the Charms Bar, and select the “Search” button.
  • Simply hit Win + Q key combo.
This gives you two panes: The left pane shows search results. The right pane lets you type in your search, as well as select the search scope.

System Wide Search

This type is used to search for files, folders and system settings throughout your system. [caption id="attachment_20570" align="alignnone" width="640"]Figure 1 System-wide search Figure 1 System-wide search[/caption] As described in the above picture, the system-wide search gives results in three different tabs:
  • Apps Tab: It lists the applications whose names match the search term.
  • Settings Tab: It lists the system settings that match the search term. For example, a search term “disk” will provide results like “Disk Management”, “Disk Cleanup” “Disk Defragmentation”, etc.
  • Files Tab: It lists all the file and folders whose name/content match the search term. However, only those files and folders included in Search Index will be searched.

Context-sensitive Search

The real beauty of Search Charm is its context-sensitive search. It works within the context of your current screen or active app. This search works only in Metro apps, however. Suppose, you want to search applications related to cooking in Windows Store. Simply summon the search bar, and type “cook”. It will give you the following results. [caption id="attachment_20569" align="alignnone" width="640"]Figure 2 Context sensitive search Figure 2 Context sensitive search[/caption] The search performs a search within the context of Store app, and lists 5 search results. You can change the search context from within the search pane itself, by selecting the desired Metro app. If the so-selected app hasn’t been launched yet, the system will do it for you and make it ready to be searched within. The usefulness of context-sensitive search can be seen in Mail app, too. The Mail app would easily become one of the most-used apps. So it needs to have easy-to-use search functionality. The context-sensitive search charm does a very good job here. [caption id="attachment_20566" align="alignnone" width="640"]Figure 3 Context-sensitive search in Mail app Figure 3 Context-sensitive search in Mail app[/caption] The search term “dark knight” (yeah. TDKR fever is everywhere!) gives you two mails that have the “dark knight” in their mail content. The only (and, perhaps, a deal breaker for many people) constraint is that the context-sensitive works only with Metro apps. The traditional apps will have to do with the old, slower search wherever available.


  • Launch an application using its name. The search charm basically serves as a universal “Run Command” window. You are saved from the pain of browsing through the list of apps.
  • Access a certain control panel setting directly. Suppose, you want to configure your mouse buttons. The traditional way is: Control Panel -> Mouse -> Buttons. The search charm makes it charmingly easy: Just type in “mouse buttons”, and select the setting from the “Settings” tab of the search pane.
[caption id="attachment_20567" align="alignnone" width="640"]Figure 4 Browsing system settings is that easy! Figure 4 Browsing system settings is that easy![/caption]
  • It is fast. Really, really fast when compared to the Windows 7 Search functionality.
  • This charm gives a consistent interface to the search functionality. Be it a global search, or searching in any application, you use the same search pane.
So enhance your productivity with the Search Charm next time you want to search/launch/customize anything!]]>

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