Facebook Search Tutorial

Tools to Help You Look for People on Facebook

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Facebook Search. Plume Creative / Getty Images

Facebook search can be difficult because the site has a couple of different search pages and tools, even though most people just use the basic search engine. To use the traditional Facebook search engine with all its query filters (i.e., searching in groups, friend's posts, places) you need to sign into your Facebook account first.

If you don't want to sign in, you can still look for people on Facebook who have public profiles by using the Facebook find friends search page.

New Search Option

Starting in early 2013, Facebook introduced a new kind of search interface it calls Graph Search, which eventually will replace the traditional search filters described in this article with all-new filters.

However, Graph Search is being rolled out gradually, and not everyone has access to it, though they could be required to use it in the near future. 

To learn more about how it works, read our Overview of Facebook Graph Search. If you really want to drill down into the new tool, read our Facebook Advanced Search Tips.

The rest of this article refers to Facebook's traditional search interface, which remains in effect for most users of the world's largest social network.

Look for People on Facebook

If you want to do more than a basic scattershot Facebook people search, then go ahead and sign into your account and head over to the main Facebook search page. The query box should say in gray letters inside, search for people, places and things.

If you have the name of someone you're looking for, this basic search engine works fairly well, though there are so many people on the network, it can be very challenging to find the right one. Just type the name into the box and peruse the list that pops up. Click on their names to view their Facebook profiles.

Using Facebook Search Filters

On the left sidebar, you'll see a long list of the available search filters which can help you narrow your query to the exact type of content you're seeking. Are you looking for a person on Facebook? A group? Place? Content in a friend's post?

Start by entering your query term, of course, and then click the tiny spyglass icon on the right of the box to run your search. By default, it will show results from all available categories. But you can narrow those results after you have them all listed there, simply by clicking on a category name from the list in the left sidebar.

Type "Lady Gaga" for example, and up pops the profile of the queen of pop herself. But if you then click on "posts by friends" at left, you'll see a list of status updates from your friends that have mentioned "lady gaga" in their text. Click "Groups" and you'll see a list of any Facebook Groups about Lady Gaga. You can further refine the query to see messages people have posted WITHIN Facebook Groups, by clicking "posts in groups."

You get the idea--click a filter name, and the info below the search box will change to reflect what type of content you're searching for.

Also, if you click the "people" filter, Facebook will suggest a list of "people you may know" based on your mutual friends on the network.

And each time you type a query in the box at the top of the page, the results are designed to help you find people on Facebook, not groups or posts. The filter applies until you click another filter type.

Additional Filters for Facebook People Search

After you run a search using the People filter, you'll see a new set of filters appear which are specific to looking for people on Facebook.

By default, the Location filter appears with a small box inviting you to type in the name of a city or region. Click the "add another filter" link to refine your people search by education (type in the name of a college or school) or workplace (type in the name of a company or employer.) The education filter also lets you specify the year or years that someone attended a particular school.

Other Ways to Look For People on Facebook

The social network offers several different ways to look for people on Facebook:

  • Search for People by Name -- As described above, if you want to find a friend on Facebook, you can search for their name and then when you recognize their profile from the list of matching results, click to send them a friend request.
  • Import Your Email contacts -- This can be messy, but another way to find a friend on Facebook is to search through email addresses by importing your contacts. Go the find Friends page and scroll down to "add personal contacts as friends."
  • Invite your friends -- Facebook also offers a page where you can send email invitations to individual friends to join or connect with you on the network. Just type your friend's email into the box, add a message and click the "invite your friends" button.
  • Browse Your Friend's Friends Lists -- Since many of us have friends in common, one quick way to find people on Facebook whom you may know is to go to your friends' profile pages and click through their lists of friends.

Additional Search Help

Facebook's official Help area has a help page specifically for search.

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