It Was Here a Minute Ago: Tips on Finding Lost Files

by Geek Squad Agent on ‎10-02-2014 09:54 PM - last edited on ‎07-14-2016 10:44 AM by Geek Squad Agent (62,657 Views)

So what should you do if you suddenly can’t find an important file? The first, take a deep breath – it is rare for a file to simply disappear. To keep from overwriting the missing file with any work you currently have open, go ahead and save your current work and close all the programs you have open.


Next, check to make sure the file or files haven’t just been accidentally moved out of their usual directories. Make sure to check the Windows Recycle Bin or Mac Trash folder. If the file is there, you can either drag it out to the desktop, or right-click on the file and click “Restore” in Windows or “Put Back” in OS X.


It is possible that the missing file or files may have been accidentally renamed. Take a moment to check the folder where the files normally live and look for files that were created or modified around the same time the files went missing. An easy way to do this is to sort the files in the directory by “Date Modified” and check those most recently changed. Take a close look at those recently modified ones with unusual or unfamiliar names. You’d be surprised how easy it is to mistakenly rename a file when you are in the midst of your work.


Search the drive


Another option is to do a search of your system for the missing file or files. If you are not sure of the exact name, try using unique words that might appear in the file name or the content of the file itself. Activating a search of your files will vary according to your computer’s operating system. Here’s a breakdown of searching the most popular operating systems.

Windows 8
When Windows 8 and 8.1 were released about a year ago, we made a series of videos about using the new operating system and posted them on our main website. One of thevideos is about using search. Take a look to refine your Windows search skills.


Mac OS X
You can use the Spotlight feature in OS X to locate files and folders. To access Spotlight, click the Spotlight icon that looks like a small magnifying glass in the upper-right corner of your screen or in any Finder window. You can also press the Command and Space bar on your keyboard to bring the Spotlight search box up. For more help with Spotlight, visit the Mac Basic: Spotlight tutorial.


Windows 7/Vista
In Windows 7 or Vista, you can use the search box on the Start Menu or any Windows Explorer to locate files or folders. To begin, click the “Start” button on your Windows taskbar to bring the Start Menu up.


At the bottom-left of the Start Menu (or in the upper-right corner of any open Windows Explorer window) you will find a search box that says, “Search programs and files” with a magnifying glass at the end. Enter the terms you want to search for, and a list of items that match will be displayed. The list is dynamic, changing as you add letters or words to your search. For more information about searches in Windows 7 or Vista, visit the Find a File or Folder tutorial on the Microsoft website.


Windows XP
To search for files or folders in Windows XP, click the “Start” button, then click on “Search” in the menu on the right side. When the Search Companion box comes up, click the “All files and folders” option. Type in your search term and select “Search.”


Please note, if you are still using Windows XP you should consider moving to another operating system, as Microsoft has stopped supporting it. Agent Devin put together a videoabout what this means to XP users for your YouTube channel. We also published a summary of the salient facts on our main website.

If you still can’t locate your missing files, all is not lost. Our dedicated team of Data Recovery Agents specialize in retrieving material from malfunctioning or damaged computer hard drives or storage media (flash drives, memory cards, etc.). They are standing by waiting to help. Stop into a Geek Squad Precinct at your local Best Buy store, or give us a call at 1-866-438-3338. An Agent will work with you to create a data recovery plan customized for your data storage challenge.


on ‎09-05-2016 03:10 PM

     I would search all my documents, recents, downloaded on my desktop as well as my tablet and also check for hard copies in my folders.

We will soon be transitioning all support needs to

Our Best Buy Community Forums will be closed for new posts beginning on March 20th.

For further help please visit Best Buy Support.
Geek Squad Videos

Visit our Channel on