Facebook Search: A Beginner's Guide

Learn how to use filters to search the largest social network

Facebook Logo

Wikimedia Commons

Facebook search is more powerful now than in the early days of social networking, but only if you know how to use it. The single search bar located at the top of the Facebook page makes search easy, but easy doesn't mean simple.

Facebook Search Basics

To start searching Facebook in a browser on your computer or in the Facebook app for mobile devices, open Facebook and click or tap in the Search bar in the upper left corner of the Facebook screen. Type a query or a person's name. 

As you type, Facebook suggests categories of content that match the words you enter in a drop-down menu beneath the search field. It may rephrase your query slightly to match the type of content available on Facebook and present alternate phrases. These rephrasings are meant to help you identify particular types of content available to be searched.

Types of Things You Can Search

It helps to have an idea of the areas you can search on Facebook because it's not like the web where you can search for anything and everything. Facebook search includes people, places, photos, interests, posts, groups, and entities that have a fan or a business Page. 

Click on one of the search results in the drop-down screen beneath the search field or choose See all results for [your search term] to open the search Filter Results screen. As the filter name implies, you have many options here to narrow your searches.

Across the top of the search Filter Results screen are tabs for AllPostsPeoplePhotosVideosPagesPlacesGroupsEvents, Apps, and Links. Choose any one of these filter tabs to narrow your search.

In the left column are additional filters. They include Posts FromPost typePosted in GroupTagged Location, and Date Posted. These choices are customized for each search you enter. Each of the categories has additional options to restrict the filter further.  For example, the Posts From filter options include AnyoneYouYour Friends and Groups, and a field where you can type in a name or description.

In the main area of the Filter Results screen are thumbnail images grouped by category. They might include a link to a person's Facebook profile, Videos, or Public Posts and vary depending on your search term.

Facebook Photos Search: How to Find Photos on Facebook

Photos play a big role in Facebook's attraction. To find photos on Facebook, you use the same general search field and then filter the results. If you enter the search term animal photos, the Filter Results screen opens and goes automatically to the Photos tab at the top of the Filter Results screen and shows a selection of thumbnails.

The first section of photos are those you or your friends uploaded. The second selection of photos is usually public photos. The left panel of the Filter Results screen contains a Photo Type entry, along with the option to show Photos You've Seen.

Combining Phrases

You don't need to limit your Facebook search to one or two words. A search for animal photos posted by friends in California returns results for that search term. Facebook knows who your friends are and their locations and uses the information unless the friend's privacy preferences prevent it,

How Privacy Concerns Affect Searches

Facebook search can only search and return the information about people who have given the social network permission to share. If you opt not to post your current employment on your profile, you won't appear in a search for that place of business. If you limit the visibility of many of your photos to a select group of people, no one outside that group can see those photos in a Facebook search. There are several ways to block searches.

Quick Help Search

The question mark icon in the top right corner of Facebook opens a simple search screen called Quick Help. It is meant to serve as a help reference and does not search all the categories of information and filters that the regular Facebook Search includes. So, if you are looking for a little technical help on Facebook, use the Quick Help link and type in your question, but otherwise, Facebook Search is the much better way to search Facebook.