Facebook Search: How To Make The Most Of It

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 27, 2010
Updated • Aug 12, 2018
Facebook, Search

Facebook's website has a search form at the top of every page that users of the social network site may use to find friends, pages of interest, apps or games, posts by friends and others, marketplace items, and other content.

The only requirement to use search on Facebook is that you are logged in to a Facebook account.Note that some information may be available elsewhere if its visibility is set to public. Search engines may index pages and posts, and it is possible to use search engines like Startpage to find content on Facebook.

Facebook displays suggestions as you type. If you type wine, Facebook displays related suggestions such as wine festival, wine tasting, or wine and cheese which you may select as well.

Results are only returned if they are set to public or if you have a connection with the user who published them and are allowed to see them. In other words: if you are not a friend of someone, search won't return results with limited visibility.

Facebook Search: types of results

Search results may return all results by default or specific results. It depends on the search term and it may even vary from user to user.

The top bar displays type filters whereas the left sidebar options to narrow down the current results listing by age, location and other parameters.

The top bar lists the following options:

  • All -- results of all types are displayed. The default.
  • Posts -- only posts are displayed. These are divided into posts from friends and public posts.
  • People -- helps you find people you know on Facebook. To narrow your people search, just type a location, school, or workplace in the appropriate field and click the "Refine Search" button.
  • Photos -- displays photos from friends and subscribed groups, and public photos that match the search term.
  • Videos -- returns video results.
  • Pages -- helps you find Pages that interest you on Facebook. To narrow your Pages search, select a Page type from the drop-down menu at the top of your search results.
  • Places -- lists places related to the search query, usually not restricted to your location. To find a place near you add "in city" or "in region" to the query.
  • Groups -- helps you find groups on Facebook that are related to your search. Groups that can be seen by everyone are viewable in search results; secret groups are not viewable in search results. To further refine your groups search, select a group type from the drop-down menu at the top of your search results.
  • Apps - helps you find applications by outside developers that interest you.
  • Events -- helps you find events on Facebook that are related to your search. Events that can be seen by everyone are viewable in search results; secret events are not viewable in search results. To narrow your events search, select a date and/or event type from the drop-down menus at the top of your search results.
  • Links -- A list of links that lead to other resources on the Internet, e.g. YouTube.

Facebook attempts to determine the most appropriate results for a given search query. If it is a name, people results are usually displayed by default.

It is best if you select the most appropriate type whenever possible to reduce the time it takes to go through the results. If you are looking for someone you probably don't need to see matching locations, groups or events in the results listing.

Facebook Search Filters

The filtering options of the sidebar provide the following options:

  • Posts from: Limit posts type by anyone, you, friends and groups, source.
  • Post Type: Limit the results by posts you have seen.
  • Posted in group: Display only posts of specific groups, e.g. groups you joined.
  • Tagged location: Display location-specific posts, e.g. the location set in your profile.
  • Date posted: Display date specific posts, e.g. from 2018 only.

The only parameter that I know that works when using Facebook Search is the | (pipe) which means or in the search. You can search for Name1 | Name2 to find results for either name. The Facebook search form is not the only option to search the site. Users have additional options to search on Facebook.

Facebook Search Tips

Facebook supports a number of queries that you can run to get a list of specific results. The search terms can be combined usually by appending additional parameters. You can search for "photos liked by me" or "photos liked by me 2018" to further narrow down the results.

You can specific the name of friends or generic terms such as "boyfriend", or "wife"-

  • Friends who have liked [term] -- Returns friends that liked the term, e.g. friends who have liked baseball to return all friends that liked baseball.
  • Photos of [friend] -- displays all photos that [friend] uploaded to Facebook and made visible to you.
  • Photos liked by [name] -- Use this to return photos that a particular friend liked on Facebook.
  • Photos I liked -- returns photos that you liked in the past.
  • Photos of [name] in [location] -- Search for photos of someone in a location, e.g. photos of abba in stockholm.
  • Photos of [name] [date] -- Search for photos of someone within a date period, e.g. photos of abba last month.
  • Photos of "something" by "someone" -- Find photos of a place or person by a specific contact or person.
  • Nearby -- Use the nearby parameter to find something near your location, e.g. sushi nearby
  • "In" -- use in to limit the location to a specific place or region, e.g. sushi in London.
  • "About" -- returns results about something, e.g. news, events such as News about Facebook.
  • Marketplace -- Use "buy" or "sell" to find items placed on Facebook's marketplace. You can also select marketplace from the main homepage and use the built-in search to find items of interest.
  • Videos -- returns videos that match the search term. You may need to switch to the videos tab to restrict results to videos only. You can search for "videos of" to limit results further.

Facebook Search, Offpage

It is possible to use other search engines like Google or Bing to search Facebook. The main advantage of using an external search engine is that it offers advanced parameters that Facebook search does not offer. Both Bing and Google Search. The advanced search parameter that can be used on both search engines is


Just enter the phrase in the search form followed by a search term. You can enter people, applications, groups and everything else in the search form to find information on Facebook.

external facebook search

This search query can be combined with other search parameters, like OR, And, - or + which makes it a very powerful option to search Facebook.

Old Information

The information below worked at one point in time but are not options anymore on Facebook. The company pulled most custom search options from its website in recent time.

Facebook Search for people

The Search for Friends on Facebook page offers help to find people on Facebook. Facebook users can make use of the search page to find users by name or email, school classes or companies.

search for friends on facebook

The search results are displayed on the standard search results page. This is the same page that users see who use the search on top of every Facebook page.

Find Friends

A more sophisticated option is provided by the Find Friends page. It only allows to search for people but offers a better functionality than the default Facebook search. Here it is possible to use data from third party services such as Skype, Gmail or Yahoo to find friends on Facebook. Please note that this means that Facebook will be able to access the data at the other service.

find friends

Facebook People Search

Facebook People Search is special, as it allows everyone to search for people on Facebook. Everyone means that users do not have to be logged in to use the search.

There is even an option to browse Facebook users by name. Simply click on a letter to browse the people directory of Facebook users whose last name start with the letter. The privacy settings determine whether Facebook users appear in the listing.

The very same page can be used to search for groups, pages and applications without having to be logged in to Facebook.

Facebook Advanced Search, and other applications

Facebook search applications are another option to enhance the search on Facebook. Facebook Advanced Search is just one of the search applications available on Facebook. These applications usually only provide a more sophisticated way of searching the same set of information on Facebook.

Facebook Search: How To Make The Most Of It
Article Name
Facebook Search: How To Make The Most Of It
Find out how to take searching on Facebook to the next level with advanced search tips and search queries to get more out of the built-in search.
Ghacks Technology News

Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. Ross Goodman said on March 6, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    I must admit I don’t mind the reminder.
    I use that as a trigger for an annual review.
    The week of their birthday I scan their contact details, LinkedIn, Facebook & Twitter to make sure I have all of their public contact information up to date.

    That and also send them a quick message.

    Pro Tip – I also have a script that on a daily basis will choose a contact at random for review.


  2. Karl said on March 6, 2015 at 5:33 pm

    You da man, Martin! Do you know how many people on Reddit shot me links and it wasn’t until your article here that I ever saw a page like “Contacts only?” Google really doesn’t want you to find this info! Lol!

    1. LegoActionFigure said on March 6, 2015 at 6:55 pm

      They didn’t hide it… if you’ve only accessed the calender through Gmail from it’s tiny reminder notice interface, then you wouldn’t know how much more you can do with it. If you click the 9 boxes icon to access Google services, you can go to the full Calendar at any time and edit, add, change stuff at whim. Changes I make to the full calender get updated to my Android’s calender and vice versa with the only difference is having a full keyboard to type when I’m on my desktop/laptop is better than Swyping or poking contact and event information into the tiny calender APP.

  3. PhoneyVirus said on March 6, 2015 at 9:42 pm

    Every comment has a point and absolutely right, Google tries really hard to hide their settings, it was last year were I stopped using Google services altogether but two gmail and photos. There was one point in time were I was going to change every account that was using gmail address, results it would’ve been more than just a headache and stuck with it.

    Thanks for the Preview Martin

  4. rae pollock said on January 7, 2017 at 10:15 pm

    I turned off FB on my android phone. When I turned it back on, all of the birthdates appeared along with holidays, etc. I do not like this feature as it does not allow me to notice the appointments that I place on my calendar. please tell me how to delete. When I go onto calendar on my android, it does not have settings, so unable to delete or change calender . I don’t want notifications to appear when the birthdays are approaching, but I don’t want them to be on the calendar 24/7. HELP

  5. Daniel Demetri said on December 18, 2018 at 3:16 am

    Google’s built-in calendar lets you turn off birthdays from your circles, but it does NOT let you turn off the import of Google+ birthdays into your contacts. So if you have a contact with an email address that matches a Google+ profile then their birthday is forced onto your Birthdays calendar.

    Obviously this is annoying as heck, so I built a replacement Birthdays calendar without this problem:


  6. Tracy Fletcher said on August 17, 2023 at 4:56 pm

    Hello, I am desperate for help please.
    I often list items for sale via facebook market place. One of my items out of 80 items on sale, was getting a strange amount of view. I had listed it before for about a year and it only ever reached a few hundred fews or so. This time it had reached about 19,000 views in one week, which was fake and abnormal. i was getting horrible pm’s from people on it, really nasty mocking my costume and myself.
    I had to take the time down, reported everything to facebook they did not thing!

    I then took it down for 3 weeks and have just put it back up and same thing is happening again. if I click the 3 little dots by the message it says leave group, but what group, it doesn’t tell me nor is there a link. I am n a few local buy sell groups or community groups, but how do I know which one it is?
    any help how to stop this would be appreciated as somenoe said they think i’m being tagged in a group, but what group i don’t know, i’ts not nice.

    1. Mystique said on August 26, 2023 at 10:08 am

      It has been a long time so I can’t say for sure but I think you can prevent people from tagging you and last I knew it asks you if someone has tagged you and then you can decline it.

      If Facebook doesn’t help you then its clear that they don’t care about you and you should maybe think at the very least about moving your sales elsewhere.

  7. John G. said on August 20, 2023 at 11:30 pm

    These short articles don’t worth the spent time of reading. I am very disappointed with them.

    1. owl said on August 21, 2023 at 4:55 am

      This article is
      Martin Brinkmann
      Mar 6, 2015
      Updated • Sep 29, 2018
      Facebook, Tutorials

      In short, it was a topic of its time and may not be useful in today’s world.
      Subscribers should pay attention to the “article creation and update dates”.

      1. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 11:07 pm

        @owl, I beg your pardon, however I didn’t comment here this comment but in one of Emre Çitak. I see posts of mine in some other articles too with some old dates. I hope someone will fix this issue soon.

  8. yanta said on August 21, 2023 at 7:18 am

    What is this? A sales pitch for Facebook?
    Facebook is an untrustworthy organization and it’s apps are junk.
    Go out and do something real. Like meet your neighbors and have a BBQ
    Why anyone would want to share details of their private life on like is bewildering.
    Must be all those endorphins one receives when someone likes a post.

    1. owl said on August 21, 2023 at 8:29 am


      I really like your comment!

  9. Russ said on August 24, 2023 at 1:30 am

    Am I the only one seeing the ghacks article’s comment section mix-ups? Recent articles with commenting dated from years ago, on subjects having nothing to do with the article. This has been occurring now for a couple of weeks as far as I can tell.

  10. Michael Kiser said on August 24, 2023 at 12:38 pm

    Well I know what the word “META” means now in Hebrew. And it sure enough looks like it’s going down! Facebook is doing all it can to take away free speech. I can’t post anything that has got to do with the bible.

  11. Anonymous said on August 26, 2023 at 11:28 am

    I can’t wait until they pull out of Android and make Messenger iOS only too while they are at it. Why do they hate poor people?

  12. D.C. said on August 30, 2023 at 10:01 pm

    It’s odd how the “largest known covert digital influence operation” may not have been seen by any actual users.

    “The campaign, which lasted over a year, garnered few, if any, eyeballs from real social media users, based on Meta’s analysis.”


  13. John G. said on August 30, 2023 at 10:21 pm

    Chinese accounts… even the reality is harder than expected. By the way, comments are still broken. Is there any intention to fix them? :S

  14. Anonymous said on September 2, 2023 at 9:16 am

    Imagine paying for Facebook. If I were forced to pay for social media at gunpoint I’d easily pick Twitter despite its flaws.
    You know even if it’s full of landmines from across the spectrum there are way more people my age. Doesn’t really matter what politics they have, they’re all my sisters and even if someone is at the complete opposite of me politically I’d still feel closer to them over the 50 and 60 somethings.

    Even if we have different opinions are are all screwed the same and have more in common than we’d like to admit.

  15. g. said on September 2, 2023 at 1:37 pm

    If they didn’t make it prohibitively expensive, then I would 100% pay for ad-free facebook. I’ve been wanting this since forever, just give us the choice to not see the frickin’ ads.

  16. Anonymous said on September 2, 2023 at 8:08 pm

    Glad I never got into social media.

  17. John G. said on September 5, 2023 at 10:06 pm

    Interesting article, however the unresolved issues here with the comments is very discouraging for us the readers. I haven’t found any explanation for this kind of problems by any responsible of this site, so I think this problem will last for some undefined time. Anyway, I will start soon my first job as forestal engineer so it’s probably that I will have not too much time to comment as before. Please keep on the good job with some interesting articles and fix the comments as soon as possible! :]

  18. ECJ said on September 6, 2023 at 3:09 am

    It would be more helpful if Facebook could just remove their entire website.

  19. Anonymous said on September 17, 2023 at 4:50 pm

    “Considering that only a minority of users is willing to pay for an ad-free experience, Meta would have to keep the regular versions for the rest of users.”

    Just like the Be-spied-on “business model”, Pay-or-be-spied-on is still illegal under GDPR (*), even if it’s something that is encountered more and more often those times from many companies on the internet that do not respect the privacy laws and think they can comply instead with an unofficial version of those that they have written themselves. Which in practice is true because those laws are hardly applied, every judge and regulatory agency in Europe that has something to do with privacy laws crumbling under the bribes of Facebook and the like, and not even trying to do that quietly (see noyb dot eu). But there has to be a limit on how long they can delay justice against them.

    “it is likely reduced, but it is unclear, if it is disabled entirely for paying users.”

    What would be funny is if users end paying *and* being spied on, which would not be surprising from Facebook. After all how would one know what Facebook does ? They are already spying while it is illegal to do so, how would paying them deter them more from breaching our rights ? And it’s not like they are not known for being pathological liars as a company, too.

    (*) https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32016R0679&from=FR
    ” (42) […] Consent should not be regarded as freely given if the data subject has no genuine or free choice or is unable to refuse or withdraw consent without detriment.”

  20. Anonymous said on September 18, 2023 at 9:12 pm

    @Martin. In your first paragraph, ‘edge’, not ‘Edge’.

  21. plusminus_ said on September 18, 2023 at 11:58 pm

    lmao, half of the captcha that shows up after submitting is hidden, so… I can’t submit. Classic.

  22. Steve S. said on September 19, 2023 at 3:23 am

    Re: Sept 18, 2023 article, Ask Meta to delete or block your personal data from third-party sources for AI training

    I tried the page a few days ago. I’m in the US and selected the option two. I input my personal info – the same used for my FB account – which I haven’t signed into for a year or more. I got the following response from Facebook, basically brushing me off:

    Thank you for contacting us.
    Based on the information provided, we were unable to process your request. To help us process your request, please provide examples or screenshots that show evidence of your personal information (for example, your name, address or phone number) in responses from Meta’s generative AI models. Once you provide this evidence, we would be happy to investigate further.
    If you have any questions about how Meta uses information from our products and services, please see our Privacy Policy: https://www.facebook.com/privacy/policy
    To learn more about generative AI, and our privacy work in this new space, you can review the information we have in Privacy Center: https://www.facebook.com/privacy/genai
    Privacy Operations”

    The page didn’t ask for any “information”. Maybe because I’m in the US, Facebook won’t do anything? Maybe the page coding is messed up? Maybe this only works if you provide proof of AI use of your PII? Maybe it’s all just sound and fury signifying nothing?

    Today I tried again, but the captcha challenge is formatted so you can’t see all the photos and can’t scroll or enlarge the pop-up.

    Not even half-baked, I’d say..

  23. Story Snooper said on September 19, 2023 at 10:25 pm

    I must say, this development from Meta is intriguing! The idea of ad-free versions of Facebook and Instagram is a breath of fresh air, especially for users like me who have been increasingly bothered by the overwhelming ads on these platforms.

    Living in the EU, I appreciate the GDPR regulations and the push for more privacy-focused options. However, I’ll be curious to see how Meta plans to monetize these ad-free versions. Will they be subscription-based? If so, what will the pricing model look like? Will there be additional features or benefits for subscribers?

    While the prospect of a less cluttered and more private social media experience is enticing, it’s important that Meta maintains a balance between user privacy and revenue generation. Striking that balance will be key to the success of these ad-free versions.

    I hope Meta also considers extending this option to users outside the EU in the future. It would be great to see such privacy-centric alternatives available globally.

    Additionally, I recently came across an interesting tool called “Instagram Story Anonymous” at storysnooper.com, which allows users to view Instagram Stories anonymously. It’s another example of how privacy-conscious individuals are seeking alternatives to maintain their online privacy. It will be interesting to see if Meta’s ad-free versions address similar concerns.

    Overall, I’m cautiously optimistic about this development and will be keeping a close eye on how it unfolds. What are your thoughts on this, fellow readers?

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.