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Searching Plone

Learn how to use Plone's powerful, Google-like search engine that includes both basic and advanced search modes.


One of the most powerful features of Plone is its ability to search content to find exactly what you are looking for.  After all, what good is a content management system where it is difficult to find content.  Plone has both a basic search and an advanced search, both of which are described below.  Whether using the basic search or the advanced search, Plone searches all of its pages, Word documents1 and text and PDF files to find your search text.  Any matches found are returned in a list of results sorted by Relevance.  The results list includes the title, description, author, and modification date of each matching item.

1 Although Plone indexes Microsoft Word documents, it does not index Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.  Consequently, when searching, Plone will not find text that is located inside of a spreadsheet.  However, if the description field associated with the spreadsheet contains relevant text, Plone will include the spreadsheet in its list of search results.

Basic Search

Plone's Basic Search

Since searching for content is so important, Plone includes a search box at the top right of every page.  If you're looking at this page through your browser now, go ahead and look.  The basic search includes three elements:

  • a box to type your search text
  • a check box to include content starting from the current folder and down but not including content located in folders further up in the hierarchy
  • the search button used to begin the actual search

It is not always necessary, however, to click the Search button because Plone attempts to locate what you're looking for while you are typing your search text.  Each time you type a few characters and pause, Plone does a quick search and displays a list of several matching items.  If many items match your search text, a summary of the first few is displayed followed by a link to "Show all..." results.  Also included in the list is a link that will take you to the Advanced search.  If you click on any item from the list, Plone takes you immediately to that content item.  If you click on Show all..., Plone displays a complete list of matching content.

When searching for content using the basic search, Plone looks at the following fields for any given content:

  • Title (all content types)
  • Description (all content types)
  • Categories (all content types)
  • Body text of a page (page)
  • Creators (all content types)

By checking the "Only in current section" box, Plone begins its search in the folder where you are currently located and continues down through all folders below that point.

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Advanced Search

The advanced search is particularly helpful when the basic search returns too much information because the advanced search not only allows you to specify what to look for but also where to look.  For example, you may wish to search for all pages (i..e, not folders, images, etc.) that were created by a certain author last month.  There are several ways to access the advanced search but perhaps the easiest is to click on the Search button (i.e., without providing search text) and then click on the Advanced Search link.

On the Advanced Search page, Plone provides eight fields that can be used to search for content, all of which are optional.  If you provide information for more than one of the eight fields listed, Plone returns content where ALL of the conditions are met.  Each of these fields is explained in the table below.

Field Description
Search Text
This field operates the same as the basic search.  Plone looks for text typed here in all of the fields listed in the basic search section above.
Plone searches for this text only in the Title field of all content types.
If desired, select one or more categories.  To select multiple categories, hold down the Ctrl key while clicking on the categories.  If you select more than one category, be sure also to select whether you want to match all categories you selected or you want to match any of the categories you selected.
Plone searches the Description field of all content types for text entered in this field.
New item since
Select one of the following values:
  • Ever - When selected, Plone will not limit its search by the creation date of the document.  This value is selected by default.
  • Last Month - When selected, Plone will look only for documents that were created during the last month.
  • Last Week - When selected, Plone will look only for documents that were created during the last week.
  • Yesterday - When selected, Plone will look only for documents that were created since yesterday.
  • Last logged-in - When selected, Plone will look only for documents that were created since you logged in.
Item type
Select one or more content types that should be included in your search.  By default, all are selected.  The list will vary depending on how your Plone site is setup.  Some of the choices are:
  • Page
  • File
  • Folder
  • Image
Please see Adding New Content for more information on each of these types.
By default, "Any Author" is selected, but if you wish to find content that was created by a specific author, use this drop-down box to select from a list of authors on the Plone site.  Only one author may be selected.
Review status
Select one or more review states that should be included in your search.  By default, all are selected.  The list will vary depending on how your Plone site is setup.  Some of the values you may see are:
  • Select All/None - Checking (or un-checking) this one allows you to select or un-select all of the review statuses.
  • Externally visible - Content that can be seen without logging into Plone
  • Internal draft - Newly created content that have not yet been through the review process
  • Internally published - Content that has been through the review process but can be seen only by those who are logged in an have proper permission
  • Pending review - Content that is currently in the review process.
  • Private - Content that has been marked private and that you have permission to see
  • Public draft - ???? - more investigation is required to determine the meaning of this check box
  • Published - ???? - this one may include all internally and externally published items, but more investigation is required to be sure
See the documentation on Plone Review States for more information about states.

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