Advanced search

In addition to the predefined searches provided by phpBB, it is possible to create your own search queries. Searches can based on keywords, author, and forum selections. The search query

In order to perform a search of the board, you must specify what it is that you would like to search for. You can specify keywords to search for as well as a post author. Two query options are provided for performing the search:

  • Search for all terms or use query as entered - If multiple keywords are provided, all keywords must be found in the result. Alternatively, you can provide a query using special identifiers.

  • Search for any terms - If multiple keywords are provided, then results containing any of the provided keywords will be returned. Keywords

In addition to supplying keywords, special identifiers can be used to add or detract from the importance of certain words.



When placed before a keyword, that keyword must be found in the result text.


When placed before a keyword, that keyword must not be present in the result text.


+dog -cat

Returns results which contain the word "dog", but not "cat".


This token can be used to separate a list of keywords, of which at least one of the keywords should be found in the text. Words may be placed inside of parentheses and combined with a + or - to indicated that at least one of the words must or must not appear in each result.



Returns results which contain either the word "dog" or the word "cat".


Returns results which contain neither the word "dog" nor the word "cat".


An asterisk in a keyword allows for partial keyword matches.



Returns results which begin with the word "cat", such as "cats" and "catastrophe". Author

The search query can be further refined by providing the author of the post. If an author is specified, then only posts made by that author which meets the query requirements will be returned. The author field allows for the use of wildcards (*) to perform partial matches on the author name. The search options

Searches can be further restricted to specific forums or specific parts of the topics.

  • Search in forums - Here you can select specific forums in which the search should be performed. Multiple forums can be selected by holding down the "control" or "command" key.

  • Search in subforums - If this option is selected, then any subforums of the selected forums will be searched as well.

  • Search within - This allows you to specify which part of the posts should be searched.

    • Post subjects and message text - Both the post subject and the post body will be searched.

    • Message text only - Only the body of the posts will be searched and not its title.

    • Topic titles only - Only the topic titles will be searched.

    • First post of topics only - The first post of each topic will be searched and no other posts in the topic.

  • Display results as - This option formats the search results to only show either the post contents or just topic titles.

  • Sort results by - Orders the results based on either author, post time, forum, topic title or post subject. The results can be displayed in ascending or descending order.

  • Limit results to previous - Limits the results to posts made in specific time frame.

  • Return first - Formats the results to only contain a specific number of characters of the matching posts. Further refinement

On the result page, it is possible to further refine your search by providing more search terms.

Figure 5.9. Search refinement

Search refinement

Refining the search results to include the word "cat".