Not getting the search results you’re looking for in SharePoint?

Sometimes when you’re searching for information, you don’t quite get the results you expect.

If you have questions about information that you can't find in your company or organization, contact the site administrator or the company help desk. Here are some tips on fine-tuning the results that the SharePoint search engine found for you.

No results or too few results?

If you get no results when you’re searching for information, even if you've spelled all words correctly, try to widen the search to include more results:

  • Check that you're searching across all the relevant content, and that you haven’t restricted the search to only portions of the content, such as People or Videos.

  • Use fewer search terms. For example, use “report” instead of “sales report”.

  • Use more general search terms. For example, use “computer” or “PC” instead of “laptop”.

  • Use the * character as a wildcard at the end of any word in your query. For example, "micro*" finds documents that contain "Microsoft" or "microchip". Using * at the beginning of a word, or in the middle of a word, doesn't work.

These tips may also do the trick if you get too many results. After widening the search, use refiners to limit the results to find the exact one you're looking for.

If that didn't help, the content might not actually be searchable:

  • If you're looking for something that you don't have permission to view, search won't return a result for it. This also means that two people might not get the same results for the same query. For example, you probably don't have permission to see the same files as your boss.

  • If the content is brand new, the search system might not have picked it up yet. Wait a while and try again. If you still don't get results, check with the people responsible for the web page you're searching from. Maybe they've decided to exclude the content you're looking for from search

  • Some organizations track both major and minor versions of files in their libraries. Most use minor versions when files are under development, and major versions when certain milestones are reached or when the files are ready for review by a wide audience. If you're searching for a file, you'll only get the major version in your search results, not the minor version. Learn more about permissions and versioning.

If you're a SharePoint administrator, learn how to make sure content can be found.

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Too many results?

If you're drowning in a sea of search results, and you can't find what you want even after using refiners to limit the number of results, try Advanced Search to make a more specific query.

Use the Advanced Search page to find information that contains or excludes specific words or phrases, or limit search results by language or by result type. You can even search within specific document properties, such as "Author contains John Doe."

If you don't see a link for Advanced Search, you can try writing advanced queries like:

  • ("wind farms" OR "solar panels") AND (title:"innovations" OR title:"technologies")

  • author:"Shakespeare" AND "To be or not to be"

Learn more about writing advanced queries directly in the search box

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Using the proper syntax?

If you get no results, and an error message tells you to make sure you’re using the proper syntax, then the search system has interpreted your search as an advanced query (a Keyword Query Language (KQL query), but found that there's something wrong with the syntax.

Check that you're using the right syntax, and particularly the right number of parentheses and double quotation marks. If you want to search for a phrase that contains a parenthesis or double quotation mark, make sure that you enclose the entire phrase (including the parenthesis or double quotation mark) in double quotation marks. Learn about syntax for advanced/KQL queries

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