the seeker finds everything

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If you have a desk like the one in the photo, you may be one of those who do not usually organize your files in different folders. Before, we users put order out of chaos thanks to this concept, but it seems that the new generations go beyond that philosophy: they don’t need folders because they have Windows Search Y spot light to find it all.

This is at least what emerges from the statements of several teachers who are realizing that their students often do not use folders to organize everything. Windows, macOS (and Linux) search engines solve the ballot.

Binder? What is a folder?

as they point out in The Verge, the same thing happened to Catherine Garland, an astrophysicist who in 2017 was teaching an engineering course. After asking her students to do an exercise on the computer, several of her called her with a question: the program couldn’t find the files she needed.

The teacher asked these students where they had saved the project file and most answered in the same way. “What are you talking about?”. Not only did they not know where they had saved that file: they did not understand the question.

Windows 10: 27 tricks (and some extra) to increase your productivity

The same was experienced by other teachers who discovered that the students had not assimilated the concept of a file or a folder because, simply, they were not used as such. kept those files in the default folders assigned by the application they were using, and they didn’t need to think about it.

Why? Because his computer was already doing it for them. It doesn’t matter if they had hundreds of icons on the desktop or files of all kinds spread over confusing and unintuitive folders, because the Windows or macOS search engine took care of everything. Simply knowing the file name was enough for Windows Search or Spotlight on macOS to locate the document they wanted to access.

It turns out that the search engines do do the work (but putting something on your side is not too much)

For someone like me who has a fairly strict regimen of folders and files —I’m sure this is also the case for many of our readers—, leaving the file I work with anywhere worries me.

Win11 Search

It’s like losing control over the way you work and leaving everything out there in the middle. You think about your house and leaving anything lying around and you probably worry about the dilemma of having to find your keys or, I don’t know, your socks.

Windows 11, first impressions: great visual changes for a Windows that will make you feel at home

But of course, at home we don’t have a Windows Search or a spot light (on linux there are many alternatives) that will do the job. And it turns out that these tools do it really well: I have verified it myself in the last few hours by testing the Windows 11 search engine and entering search terms that, indeed, resulted in the files I was looking for.

It does so at least if one looks in the classic folders in which files are usually stored on the system partition (in Windows, “C:”). For the indexing to be complete, one has to go to “Settings -> Privacy and Security -> Searching in Windows” and there select the “Enhanced” option to extend the search to all drives and their folders.

That option can take a toll on battery life if you’re using a laptop, but if you enable it effectively those results will spread to all local partitions on your system. It is even possible to add network locations (such as NAS) to have them also indexed. On Windows 10 We talked a long time ago about the so-called ‘Immersive Search’which went a little further when it came to behaving like the macOS Spotlight that has always been a benchmark in this type of function.

generational change in sight

It is possible that all this is indeed a clear indication of a generational change in the way in which we understood computers in our forties (and, I suppose, in our thirties) and the way in which the new generations understand it.


Raise your hand if you frequently use the Files file explorer on your iPad.

As Saavik Ford, an astronomy professor at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, put it, “I grew up when you had to have a file and save it: you had to know where it was. There was no search function.” But among students, “there isn’t this conception that there is a place where files live. They just look for it and there they have it.”

It certainly happens with mobile devices: we rely on apps to take care of our files, and only recently did iOS and iPadOS add a file explorer to use that new generations probably don’t use much because hey, they already have the search engine on their iPhone or iPad.

The Windows 11 challenge to “make you feel at home” and completely renew yourself (Clear the X #147)

Some of the teachers who had these problems when talking about files and folders have started to work in that direction: it is fine to use the browser, but at the beginning of their courses give some basic notions what is the basic directory structure and what is a file and a folder.

The idea is not very intuitive for many students, but taking into account that the concept is still a fundamental part of the operating systems that we handle every day (although on mobile phones, we insist, that concept remains in the background), it seems important to remind students the new generations.

For my part, I am clear that (at least for now) I will continue to organize my music or my personal photos with folders. The browser works great, yes, but I’m not ready to give up old habits. Argh.

Image: Tim Gouw

If you have a desk like the one in the photo, you may be one of those who do not…

If you have a desk like the one in the photo, you may be one of those who do not…

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