Searching for Help Topics

A basic search consists of the word or phrase you want to find. You can use Boolean, wildcard, and nested expressions. You can also limit the search to previous results, match similar words, or search topic titles only to further define your search.

The basic rules for formulating queries are as follows:

Note: If you are searching for a file name with an extension, you should group the entire string in double quotes, ("filename.ext"). Otherwise, the period will break the file name into two separate terms. The default operation between terms is AND, so you will create the logical equivalent to "filename AND ext."

Searching for Words or Phrases: Using Wildcards

You can search for words or phrases and use wildcard expressions. Wildcard expressions allow you to search for one or more characters using a question mark or asterisk. The table below describes the results of these different kinds of searches.

Search for

Example

Results

A single word

select

Topics that contain the word "select." (You will also find its grammatical variations, such as "selector" and "selection.")

A phrase

"new operator"
or
new operator

Topics that contain the literal phrase "new operator" and all its grammatical variations.

Without the quotation marks, the query is equivalent to specifying "new AND operator," which will find topics containing both of the individual words, instead of the phrase.

Wildcard expressions

esc*
or
80?86

Topics that contain the terms "ESC," "escape," "escalation," and so on. The asterisk cannot be the only character in the term.

Topics that contain the terms "80186," "80286," "80386," and so on. The question mark cannot be the only character in the term.

 

Turn on Match Similar Words to include minor grammatical variations for the phrase you search.

Defining Search Terms: Using Boolean Expressions

The AND, OR, NOT, and NEAR operators enable you to precisely define your search by creating a relationship between search terms. The following table shows how you can use each of these operators. If no operator is specified, AND is used. For example, the query "spacing border printing" is equivalent to "spacing AND border AND printing."

Search for

Example

Results

Both terms in the same topic.

dib AND palette

Topics containing both the words "dib" and "palette."

Either term in a topic.

raster OR vector

Topics containing either the word "raster" or the word "vector" or both.

The first term without the second term.

ole NOT dde

Topics containing the word "OLE," but not the word "DDE."

Both terms in the same topic, close together.

user NEAR kernel

Topics containing the word "user" within eight words of the word "kernel."

 

Note: The |, &, and ! characters don't work as Boolean operators (you must use OR, AND, and NOT).

Using Nested Expressions When Searching

Nested expressions allow you to create complex searches for information. For example, "control AND ((active OR dde) NEAR window)" finds topics containing the word "control" along with the words "active" and "window" close together, or containing "control" along with the words "dde" and "window" close together.

The basic rules for searching help topics using nested expressions are as follows:

Procedures

To go to a topic from the Search tab

  1. Click the Search tab, and then type the word or phrase you want to find.

  2. b_bool.gif Click the Boolean button (to the right of the test field) to add Boolean operators to your search.

  3. Click List Topics, choose the topic you want, and then click Display.

  4. To sort the topic list alphabetically, click the Title column heading.

You can precisely define a search by using wildcard expressions, nested expressions, and Boolean operators.

You can request similar word matches, search only the topic titles, or search the results of a previous search.

You can set the Help Viewer to highlight all instances of search terms that are found in topic files. Click the Options button, and then click Search Highlight On.

To highlight words in searched topics

When searching for words in help topics, you can have each occurrence of the word or phrase highlighted in the topics that are found.

To turn off this option, click Options on the toolbar, and then click Search Highlight Off.

If you are viewing a long topic, only the first 500 instances of a search word or phrase will be highlighted.

To search for words in the titles of HTML files

  1. Click the Search tab, type the word or phrase you want to find, and then turn on Search Titles Only.

  2. Click List Topics, choose the topic you want, and then click Display.

If you use this option, all HTML topic files will be searched, including any that are not listed in the table of contents.

To find words similar to your search term

This feature enables you to include minor grammatical variations for the phrase you search. For example, a search on the word "add" will find "add," "adds," and "added."

  1. Click the Search tab, type the word or phrase you want to find, and then turn on Match Similar Words.

  2. Click List Topics, choose the topic you want, and then click Display.

This feature only locates variations of the word with common suffixes. For example, a search on the word "add" will find "added," but it will not find "additive."

To search only the last group of topics you searched

This feature enables you to narrow a search that results in too many topics found. You can search through your results list from previous search by using this option.

  1. On the Search tab, turn on Search Previous Results.

  2. Click List Topics, choose the topic you want, and then click Display.

If you want to search through all of the files in a help system, this check box must be off.

If you previously used this feature, the Search tab opens with this check box turned on.

To repeat an earlier search