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Search is a powerful feature, and has the potential to be confusing. In most cases, if you just type what you want to find, it will work. But search has many capabilities for narrowing down to find exactly what you want.

Quick tips

Start searching

You can invoke search by pressing Ctrl-Shift-F or Cmd-Shift-F. You can also customize this hotkey in Settings => Hotkeys. When search is invoked, focus will be automatically put in the search bar so you can start typing your query right away.

Search selected text

After you select text, you can search for it by simply invoking search like above.

Search history

Obsidian will remember your most recently used search queries.

These queries will be presented to you when your search query is empty. You can click on any one of them to search for it again, allowing you to easily re-run previous queries.

To clear search history, simply click on the "X" button.

Search Settings

There are a couple of toggles available while searching:

  • Match case toggle case sensitive matching, but note that it can be overridden on a per-search basis using the match-case: and ignore-case: operators explained above.
  • Explain search term will show you what the search query actually does in plain terms.
  • Collapse results will toggle between just showing matching note names and showing the lines in which matches appear. These extended results can be toggled for each note by clicking on the folding triangle next to the file name.
  • Show more context will expand the display of the matches to show more text around the match.
  • Change sort order sorts the results by various orders, similar to how files are sorted in the File explorer.

Copy search results

To quickly and easily take your search results to a list, use the "copy search result" option.

You can customize whether you want to show paths, which link style to use (wikilink or Markdown link), and how you want your list to appear.

Embed search results

You can embed search results in a note.

For example, if you write:

embed OR search

You should see this embedded search view (note: it doesn't work on Obsidian Publish as of 2020/01/18):

embed OR search

Search syntax

Combining sub-queries

When crafting a search query, remember that clicking "Explain Search Term" will give an explanation of what is being searched for, which can be very useful when debugging a complicated search.

  • Words in the search query separated by space will be searched independently in each note. For example foo bar will find a note that includes both foo and bar anywhere in it.
  • "Quoted strings" can be used to search multiple consecutive words separated by space, or in other words, a phrase. So, searching for "foo bar" with quotes will only find notes that include those words next to each other. You can use backslash \" to escape double quotes if you actually want to search for a string that includes quotes. And \\ will do the same for backslash.
  • Boolean operations can be used. Use OR to match one or another. Use - to negate a query. The space character is used for boolean "and".
    • For example: foo OR bar will find all notes that contain either of those words, they don't have to be in the same note. foo -bar will find all notes that contain foo, but not if they also contain bar.
  • Parenthesis can be used to group boolean operations. For example ((a OR b) (c OR d)). This can be useful when crafting complex searches to make sure things happen in the order you want.
  • Regular expressions (regex) can now be used in search. Use forward slash to denote a regular expression. For example: /[a-z]{3}/. Obsidian accepts the JavaScript flavor regular expressions. You can learn more about it here.

Search operators

Several special operators are available. Some operators allow nesting queries using parenthesis, for example: file:("to be" OR -"2B"). You can use - to exclude specific results from search, for example: foo -tag:#bar.

  • file:(...) will perform the following subquery on the file name. For example: file:.jpg. If you use Zettelkasten-style UIDs, this can be useful for narrowing a time range, for example file:202007for files created in July of 2020.
  • path:(...) will perform the following subquery on the file path, absolute from the root. For example: path:"Daily Notes/2020-07".
  • content:(...) will perform the following subquery on the file content. For example: content:"happy cat".
  • match-case:(...) and ignore-case(...): will override the case sensitive match logic for the following subquery.
  • tag: will search for your specified tag within a file, for example tag:#work. This is faster and more accurate than searching for the tag in plaintext #work, as it uses the cached information and ignores text in code blocks and sections that aren't markdown text.
  • line:(...) will perform the subquery on a line-by-line basis, rather than a file-by-file basis. For example, if you search for foo bar, this could match a file that has foo in the first paragraph and bar in the last paragraph. Searching for line:(foo bar) will only match if foo and bar are on the same line.
  • block:(...) will perform the subquery on a block-by-block basis, where each block defined as a markdown block, typically separated by empty lines or list items. This is expensive computationally as it requires parsing each file, which means this is likely slower than other modes.
  • section:(...) will perform the subquery on a section-by-section basis, where each section is the text between two headings, including the first heading.
  • task:(...) will perform the subquery only on each [[Format your notes#Task list|task]] and on a block-by-block basis. Use task:"" to match all tasks.
  • task-todo:(...) will perform the subquery only on each uncompleted [[Format your notes#Task list|task]] and on a block-by-block basis. Use task-todo:"" to match all uncompleted tasks.
  • task-done:(...) will perform the subquery only on each completed [[Format your notes#Task list|task]] and on a block-by-block basis. Use task-done:"" to match all completed tasks.
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Last updated on 9/3/2021