Storage space is one of the essential components of your system, and like it or not, you will most likely run out of it in the future. A good way to free up your storage space is by managing your largest files. You can move them to a different drive, cloud storage, or even delete them if they are no longer needed.
In some cases, you can even compress your files if you don’t wish to use them anytime soon. But how do you find large files? Going through each folder manually can be tedious and using a cleaner is simply not efficient enough. Thankfully there are some neat ways to find large files on your system in Windows 11. Use the guides below to get you started.
Find large files on Windows 11: Tips
Sorting large files can be done based on type, kind, date, and more. The best way to do this is by using Windows Search in file explorer. You can use dedicated terms to define the files you are looking for and filter them based on their size. You can then use the file explorer sorting options to find the largest ones in your search results.
Consequently, if this does not fit your criteria or you are unable to find the files that you are looking for, then you can use one of the other methods listed in this guide.
Related: How to Change the Taskbar Color on Windows 11
Method #01: Using Search in explorer (Recommended)
We will now search for large files based on your criteria.
Windows + E on your keyboard to open the file explorer and click on the search box in the top right corner. Search for the following term.
The results will now be filtered and the files larger than 4GB will now be displayed on your screen. Select the unnecessary files that you do not need on your PC and simply delete them to free up some space. If you wish to use a smaller minimum file size, then replace ‘gigantic’ with one of the terms below depending on the size you prefer.
- Large: Files between 128MB and 1GB
- Huge: Files between 1GB to 4GB
- Medium: Files between 1MB to 128MB
And that’s it! You can use Windows Search this way to filter files by their size and find the largest ones currently on your PC.
Note: In case your PC indexes and shows system files as well then we recommend you double check files before deleting them to avoid deleting any vital system files from your system.
You will now have found large files on your PC using Windows Search.
1.1 What if the search does not work for you: Tips to try
If typing in ‘size:gigantic’ does not work for you, then you will need to switch to the old file explorer from Windows 10. Use the guide below to get you started.
Once you switch back to the old file explorer, use the guide above to search for large files. Once found, use the subsequent guide below to get the new Windows 11 file explorer back on your system.
1.1.1 Switch to the old file explorer
Windows + S on your keyboard and search for ‘Regedit’. Click and launch the app from your search results.
Navigate to the following directory or copy-paste the address below in your address bar.
Click on the folder named ‘Blocked’.
Right-click on an empty area on your right, select ‘New’, and then click on ‘DWORD (32-bit) value’.
Enter the following name and press Enter on your keyboard. We recommend you copy-paste the same to avoid any naming errors.
Close the registry editor and press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open the Task Manager. Switch to the ‘Details’ tab.
Click on ‘Explorer.exe’ and hit Del on your keyboard.
Click on ‘End process’ to confirm your choice.
Click on ‘File’ and select ‘Run new task’.
Enter the following in the text box and click on ‘Ok’.
Windows File Explorer will now restart on your system and it should be reverted to the Windows 10 File Explorer. You can open a random folder to check the same. Confirm that you have gone back to the old file explorer and use the guide above to find large files on your system.
1.1.2 Switch back to the new file explorer
We can now revert to the old file explorer. Follow the guide below to get you started.
Windows + S on your keyboard and search for Regedit. Click and launch the app once it shows up in your search results.
Navigate to the following path below or copy-paste it in your address bar.
Simply click on the DWORD (32-bit) value we had created earlier and hit Del on your keyboard. Click on ‘Yes’ to confirm your choice.
Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc on your keyboard and switch to the ‘Details’ tab.
Click on ‘explorer.exe’ and hit Del on your keyboard.
Click on ‘End process’.
Click on ‘File’ and select ‘Run new task’.
Type in ‘explorer.exe’ and hit Enter on your keyboard.
You can close the task manager and registry editor on your PC now.
And that’s it! You will now have gone back to the new File Explorer on Windows 11. Apart from the size parameter, you can also use the commands below to search different files on your PC and sort them by size. This way you can find the largest ones on your system.
1.2 Find by file types
Similar to the command above, you can use the ‘kind:’ parameter to find certain files in the current directory. The ‘kind’ parameter will allow you to look for calendar files, text documents, pictures, videos games, and more.
When using the kind parameter this way you are not restricted to Windows’s predefined categories, instead you can define specific file extensions as well to find them on your PC as shown below.
The command above will help you look for executables in the current directory.
Similarly using the command below will help you find PDF files in the selected directory.
And that’s it! You can use these commands to find certain files on your PC using Windows Search.
1.3 Find files by date
You can also use the ‘date:’ parameter to look for files created on a certain date. Additionally, this command can be used in conjunction with Boolean filters below to find files created or modified before or after a certain date on your PC. For example, if looking for a file created on the 1st of January 2020, then you can use the following command below.
Similarly if looking for a file created on the 1st January 2021, then you can use the following command.
1.4 Use Boolean Filters
Boolean filters can help you search multiple terms simultaneously or in conjunction with each other. Use the filters below that best suit your current requirements.
1.4.1 The ‘AND’ parameter
You can use the AND parameter to search for two search terms together. This way you can look for a file containing both the terms and not either one of them which should help you filter out unwanted results containing either of the terms.
For example, if looking for a file containing the words ‘Samsung and ‘galaxy’ in its name then I can use the following term to search for your file.
Samsung AND galaxy
This will filter out files with only ‘Samsung’ and ‘Galaxy’ in their name. Files with either term will be filtered out.
The ‘OR’ parameter
The OR parameter is opposite to the AND parameter and allows you to search for files containing either of the terms in your search term. For example, if I wish to search for files with either ‘Apple’ or ‘Airpods’ in their name, then I can use the following search term.
apple OR airpods
Similarly, if I am looking for PDF and EXE files in a particular directory, then I can use the following command below.
kind:.exe OR .pdf
And that’s how you can use the OR parameter to look for multiple search terms in a single file name.
1.4.2 The ‘NOT’ parameter
If you are looking to filter out a certain search term or a filet type then you can use the NOT parameter. The NOT parameter will exclude the desired file type, kind, size, or name depending on your choice.
For example, if in a folder full of .docx files you are looking for other file types and wish to filter them all out, then you can use the following command.
kind: NOT .docx
Similarly, if I am looking for a file that does not have ‘Apple” in its name then I can use the following search term.
Parentheses is a Boolean filter that is usually used when you are searching file contents as well. Anything included between the parentheses () is searched for and files with either or all of the terms are displayed on your screen.
For example, if looking for a file containing either ‘Apple, Samsung, Mi, Microsoft, and Dell’ or all of these terms, then you can use the following term.
(Apple Samsung Mi Microsoft Dell)
Similarly, you can use the following command if looking for multiple file types.
kind:(.exe .pdf .txt)
And that’s it! You will now have used parentheses to your advantage to look for multiple search terms in a particular file.
1.4.4 ‘>’ and ‘<‘ parameter
These two Boolean filters are usually used when looking for file types or when sorting your results based on a parameter.
The greater than and less than parameters can be used to filter your results based on a number. For example, if looking for files dated after 1st January 2021 then you can use the following command.
Similarly, if looking for files less than 10GB then you can use the following command.
size: < 10GB
You can use the greater than and less than parameters to your advantage this way and find the desired files on your system.
Advanced methods to find large files on Windows
Some other ways in which you can find large files on your system have been listed below. Follow the guides to get you started.
Method #02: Using CMD
CMD can also help you find large files on your system. Use the guide below to get you started.
Windows + E on your keyboard and navigate to a location where you wish to search for large files and click on the address bar at the top.
Type in CMD and press Enter on your keyboard.
CMD will now be launched in the particular folder. Type in the following command and replace ‘PATH’ with the path we copied to your clipboard.
forfiles /S /M * /C “cmd /c if @fsize GEQ 1073741824 echo @path > largefiles.txt
The above command will look for files larger than 1GB on your PC. If you wish to define a larger minimum size, then replace ‘1073741824’ with one of the following options below.
- 2GB: 2147483648
- 5GB: 5368709120
- 10GB: 10737418240
Execute the command with your desired variables and a text file will be created in the same location with a list of all the large files found on your system based on your criteria. You will also find the path for each file on your local storage in the text file.
You can use this list to identify the largest files in the current location and then delete them at your discretion to free up some disk space on your system.
Method #03: Using PowerShell
You can also find large files on your system using PowerShell. Just like the command for CMD, PowerShell will scour your local files based on a minimum size and display all the files larger than it. Use the guide below to get you started.
Press Windows + E on your keyboard and navigate to the location where you wish to look for large files. Click on the address bar at the top and type in ‘PowerShell’. Press Enter on your keyboard once you are done.
Copy-paste the command below in the PowerShell window and press Enter on your keyboard.
gci -r| sort -descending -property length | select -first 10 name, length
You will now get a list of the top 10 largest files currently taking the most disk space on your system. If you wish to view the top 20 files, then replace ‘select-first 10’ with ‘select-first 20’.
PowerShell will now find and display the 20 largest files on your system along with their size. The file size will be in bytes which can make it a bit difficult to judge the size of files in terms of gigabytes.
And that’s it! You will now have found the largest files on your PC using PowerShell in Windows 11.
2 Best apps to find large files on Windows
Many third-party tools allow you to view a visual representation of your PC’s disk usage.
This makes it much easier for you to identify large chunks of files taking significant space on your hard drive. Our recommended tools would be SpaceSniffer and WinDirStat. Use one of the guides below depending on the tool that you wish to use.
Method #04: Using SpaceSniffer
Space Sniffer is another popular third-party utility used to analyze disk space usage on Windows 11. SpaceSniffer can help you identify large files using huge amounts of space on your system. You can also find hidden files taking huge disk space on your PC using the SpaceSniffer. Use the guide below to get you started.
Download SpaceSniffer to your PC using the link above. A portable .exe will be downloaded to your system. Extract the archive and right-click on the .exe file.
Select ‘Run as administrator’.
Now select the drive you wish to scan. If you wish to analyze and find large files in a particular directory, then you can enter its path in the text box below.
You will now be shown a graphical representation of your disk space usage on your screen. Simply hover over the largest chunk and you will be shown the name of the folder or file occupying that space.
And that’s it! You can use SpaceSniffer this way to identify the largest files on your system by simply looking at the largest chunks on your screen.
Method #05: Using WinDirStat
WinDirStat is a popular open-source utility often used to generate a graphical representation of your local storage space in a user-friendly manner. This makes it easier to identify large chunks of your disk space occupied by a single file, folder, or archive, which in turn will make it easier for you to free up some space on your PC. Use the guide below to identify what is taking up space on your Windows 11 PC.
Download and install WinDirStat on your PC using the link above. Once installed, launch the app.
Now select one of the options that best suit your needs. If you only have a single drive installed on your system with a single partition, then you can skip this step. Click on ‘Ok’ once you are done.
- All Local Drives: This will make WinDirStat analyze all your disks and display their data graphically.
- Individual Drives: Select one of your installed drives to be analyzed for disk space usage. You can select this option and then select the drive you wish to use.
Your drives will now be analyzed and you can track the progress for the same at the bottom of the window.
Once analyzed, a color-coded graphical representation of the disk space usage on the selected drive(s) will be shown on your screen. Simply click on the largest chunks to identify the largest files.
Press Del on your keyboard to delete the file. This will send it to your recycle bin and you can decide its fate when reviewing your recycle bin items. Alternatively, you can use Shift + Del to permanently delete the item from your system.
And that’s it! You can repeat the last steps to delete more of the largest files from your system.
Other Third-Party apps as alternative
The world of third-party alternatives is a huge one and thus, the above-mentioned tools are not the only ones that you can use to analyze your disk usage. Here are some alternatives with unique features that might be more suited for your current needs and requirements.
More ways to clear storage on Windows 11
If you’re looking to reclaim your storage space then there are tons of more things that you can do besides clearing or moving your largest files. You can clear caches, stop programs, reduce dedicated storage space, clear temporary files, remove leftover files, and much more. Refer to this dedicated guide by us that should help you clear space on Windows 11 in every way possible.
Should you use disk space analyzers?
Disk Space Analyzers have long been the ultimate utility to identify where exactly your disk space is being used. Most of them stem from long-standing communities while others have over decades of experience. If you’re divided on using disk space analyzers, then your best bet would be to opt for something that is open source.
The modern world of the internet is centered around data collection and like it or not, every service is gathering and collecting some type of data from your usage of their tool. Hence most disk analyzers nowadays, also have the option to share your usage data and more. Additionally, if you decide to opt for something new and untested then the risks are even higher.
Hence, we recommend you use disk space analyzers but do verify their origin and reputation before running them on your system. If you do not wish to go through the hassle of reading reviews, we recommend you simply try an open-source alternative from a trusted source.
We hope this guide helped you easily find the largest files using disk space on your system. If you face any issues or errors during the process, feel free to reach out to us using the comments section below.