Beginner's Guide to Facebook Search

Find what you're looking for on the world's largest social network

Facebook icon on screen ready to search
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Facebook search is more advanced and powerful now than in its early days, but only if you know how to use it. While Facebook search is easy to use, it does have some unique features and functionality.

The information here applies to Facebook search functions on the desktop site as well as the mobile app. Any variations are noted below.

Types of Things to Search

On Facebook, search for people, places, photos, interests, posts, groups, and entities that have a fan page (for a community, organization, or public figure) or a business page

Facebook Search Basics

To start searching Facebook in a browser on your computer, open Facebook and go to the Search bar in the upper left corner of your News Feed or profile page. In the mobile app, tap the Magnifying Glass icon on the top right of the screen. Type in a query or a person's name. 

As you type, Facebook suggests categories of content 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 identify particular types of content available to be searched.

After you type a search term, select a search result 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. Narrow your search here.

Tabs at the top of the Filter Results screen include: AllPostsPeoplePhotosVideosMarketplace, PagesPlacesGroupsApps, Events, and Links. Choose any one of these filter tabs to narrow your search.

Additional filters are in the left column, including Posts FromPost TypePosted in GroupTagged Location, and Date Posted. These choices are customized for each search you enter. Each of these categories has additional options to restrict the filter even further. For example, the Posts From filter options include AnyoneYouYour Friends, Your Groups and Pages, 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; they vary depending on your search term.

Facebook search screen

Facebook's Photo Search Function

Photos are an important part of Facebook's attraction. To find photos on Facebook, use the same general search field and then filter the results. If you enter the search term Animal Photos, for example, the Filter Results screen opens and goes automatically to the Photos tab 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.

Facebook photo search function

Combining Phrases

There's no 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 specific search term. Facebook knows who your friends are and their locations and uses that information unless privacy preferences prevent it.

How Privacy Concerns Affect Searches

Facebook can search and return information about only people who have given the social network permission to share. For example, 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.

If you don't want to be found on Facebook, there are several ways to block searches.

Quick Help Search

The question mark icon in the top right corner of Facebook's desktop site opens a simple search screen called Quick Help. This is a help reference tool and not a Facebook search tool. So, if you are looking for a little technical help on Facebook, use the Quick Help link and type in your question, but otherwise, use Facebook's search function.

Facebook's mobile app doesn't have a Quick Help feature. To access the Help Center on the Facebook mobile app, tap the three verticle lines on the bottom right, and then tap Help & Support.