I'd like to be able to find all files in my Google drive that contain the string "_INSTRUCTION_" in the file name. Is there a way to do this?

EDIT 1: When I search for "RMA2013", I should get a dropdown with several options. As you can see, there are several Word and .pdf files with the phrase "RMA2013". Still I get no dropdown help: enter image description here

And even if I click the search button, I get nothing: enter image description here

  • No. Because the string "_INSTRUCTION_" appears in the middle of the desired file names, I don't get a dropdown. If I'm searching for strings that appear at the beginning of file names, I get a dropdown of hits.
    – Jonathan M
    Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 15:12
  • 1
    @pnuts, Wow. Any chance you could post a screen shot of a search for a string in the middle of the file name. I'd like to make sure I'm doing the same thing you are.
    – Jonathan M
    Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 20:10
  • 1
    Oh, I blanked out the latter part of the address in the picture, just in case it contained session variables that a hacker could use. :)
    – Jonathan M
    Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 21:15

5 Answers 5


By request. At the bottom is a file with a ridiculously long name (more even than shown) that includes _INSTRUCTION_ in its name. The top part of the screenshot shows the dropdown that automatically pops up as the search term _INSTRUCTION_ is being entered:

WA62673 example

In my Drive I only created one such file name but where several file names meet the search term the dropdown list expands to show more than one name (for me!).

  • Good to see that it works. Check my edit. I'm still getting nothing.
    – Jonathan M
    Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 21:02

The Original Poster is trying to find a string of text that appears in the middle of a string that contains no spaces. This cannot be done in drive without a custom script.

GDRive's file name search looks for:

  • WHOLE string matches (ex. search term "TAX" finds string "tax" NOT "turboTax") OR
  • PARTIAL string matches WHEN the term being searched for is at the BEGINNING OF A STRING preceded by a space. (ex. search term "turbo" finds string "turboTax" but not "dieselTurbo")

This behavior appears to be by design based on typical human behavior. When we search for a file, we generally start typing from the BEGINNING of a word to the END... as you complete the word, you will notice the list of files narrowing down. It works for the most part and generally prevents users from getting frustrated from having thousands of names which are false positives. While this is nice for the most part, it would be nice to override this setting with wildcards :/

Now, others have suggested solutions contradicting this rule. But that is because there is confusion about terms, specifically what is meant by finding a string in the "MIDDLE" of a file name.

For example: assume you have a file named "2015 Business TaxForms TurboTax.pdf" If you search for "Tax" the above file will be found because the letters "tax" can be found at the beginning of the string "TaxForms" BUT NOT because the letters "tax" are in the string "TurboTax". Likewise, "sine" will NOT find the above named file despite the fact that the letters "sine" can be found in the string "Business". But, if you search for "Business", the above file will be found.

  • How to write the custom script? And the script is in what language? And just type the script in search box ?
    – Grace
    Commented Jan 11, 2023 at 9:37

Search File names only:

Search for word                 title:java
Any one of words search         title:java scala
Should be all words search      title:"java scala"

By default Google Drive searches for full words. If you want to change that you can put "title:" before your search term. So for your example you'd search for "title:RMA2013". The other option is to hit the little down arrow on the right side of the search box and type the search text into the "Item name" search box instead of the "Has the words" box.


Try putting a ? in front for a partial search.

For example, ?_10172020_

Should find Worksheet7_10172020_1100.xlsx and Worksheet8_10172020_1130.xlsx but not Worksheet17_10182020_1330.xlsx

  • 1
    Ok... I need to test this more. It works as above, but if I try ?7_101720, not so much. I've been using it to filter for dates in my filenames, though. Your mileage may vary.
    – Mike J-P.
    Commented Oct 29, 2020 at 23:25

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