Advanced Syntax Search (STARTER ONLY)


NOTE: Note Advanced Global Search (powered by Elasticsearch) is not yet available on We are working on adding it. Follow this epic for the latest updates.

Use advanced queries for more targeted search results.


The Advanced Syntax Search is a subset of the Advanced Global Search, which you can use if you want to have more specific search results.

Advanced Global Search only supports searching the default branch.

Use cases

Let's say for example that the product you develop relies on the code of another product that's hosted under some other group.

Since under your GitLab instance there are hosted hundreds of different projects, you need the search results to be as efficient as possible. You have a feeling of what you want to find (e.g., a function name), but at the same you're also not so sure.

In that case, using the advanced search syntax in your query will yield much better results.

Using the Advanced Syntax Search

The Advanced Syntax Search supports fuzzy or exact search queries with prefixes, boolean operators, and much more.

Full details can be found in the Elasticsearch documentation, but here's a quick guide:

  • Searches look for all the words in a query, in any order - e.g.: searching issues for display bug will return all issues matching both those words, in any order.
  • To find the exact phrase (stemming still applies), use double quotes: "display bug"
  • To find bugs not mentioning display, use -: bug -display
  • To find a bug in display or sound, use |: bug display | sound
  • To group terms together, use parentheses: bug | (display +sound)
  • To match a partial word, use *: bug find_by_*
  • To find a term containing one of these symbols, use \: argument \-last

Syntax search filters

The Advanced Syntax Search also supports the use of filters. The available filters are:

  • filename: Filters by filename. You can use the glob (*) operator for fuzzy matching.
  • path: Filters by path. You can use the glob (*) operator for fuzzy matching.
  • extension: Filters by extension in the filename. Please write the extension without a leading dot. Exact match only.

To use them, simply add them to your query in the format <filter_name>:<value> without any spaces between the colon (:) and the value.


  • Finding a file with any content named hello_world.rb: * filename:hello_world.rb
  • Finding a file named hello_world with the text whatever inside of it: whatever filename:hello_world
  • Finding the text 'def create' inside files with the .rb extension: def create extension:rb
  • Finding the text sha inside files in a folder called encryption: sha path:encryption
  • Finding any file starting with hello containing world and with the .js extension: world filename:hello* extension:js