How do I search for stuff on Mastodon? How do I use hashtags?

You can search for posts and profiles on Mastodon by typing ordinary words or hashtags or emoji into the search box:

  • To search on the official app, tap the magnifying glass icon at the bottom of the screen, and type in the search box at the top of the screen. The results will appear below it.
  • To search on your server’s website, type into the search box and press enter. The results will appear beside or below the search box, depending on your window size.
  • If you’re using the website through a phone, click on the 🔍 magnifying glass icon at the top.
  • Third party apps will have various interfaces for search, but they’re usually quite obvious, using a magnifying glass icon or the word “search”. (One exception is Toot! which has its search function bizarrely hidden away in the ⋯ menu in the top right corner.)

How do I make my own posts more visible in search results?

If you want your post to be more easily found in searches, opt into full text searches but also include relevant hashtags if you can. Remember to use CamelCase on hashtags that contain multiple words.

Although hashtags are no longer required to appear in search results, hashtags are still important in making posts visible, because many people follow hashtags and many people search for them. Hashtags are really good for actively indicating a topic being discussed, instead of a word just used accidentally or incidentally.

What exactly are hashtags? How do I use them?

Hashtags are words or phrases with a # (hash symbol) at the start, such as #Weather. It’s a good idea to include relevant tags in your posts to make it easier for people to discover them. If a hashtag has multiple words you should write the tag without spaces but with the first letter of each word capitalised, such as #PremierLeagueFootball. Capitalising the first letters of words makes a hashtag easy to read and accessible to blind people using screen reader apps.

You can include as many hashtags as you want, but they must be relevant. If you include irrelevant tags in your posts it is spamming, and your account may be blocked or suspended by admins.

What order are search results shown in?

Chronological, with newest posts at the top.

How do I search just my own posts?

To search just your own posts, include the phrase from:me in your search. If you want to search posts that you’ve interacted with, include the phrase in:library in your serarch.

There are lots more operators like this, scroll further down this page to see them all.

Are there any special operators for filtering searches on Mastodon?

Yes, Mastodon 4.2.0 introduces a number of operators you can use to filter your search results with:

  • has:media – Only shows posts with an attachment (images, audio, video)
  • has:poll – Only shows posts with a poll
  • has:embed – Only shows posts with a link that produces some kind of embedded media (such as a YouTube or PeerTube link)
  • language:fr using language codes – Only shows posts using that language, the example would filter for posts in French. Click here to see a complete list of language codes on Mastodon.
  • is:reply – Only shows posts that are replies
  • is:sensitive – Only shows posts marked as sensitive
  • from:(FEDIVERSE ADDRESS HERE) – Only shows posts by that particular user, for example
  • from:me – Only shows posts you have made yourself
  • in:all – Searches all posts visible to you
  • in:library – Only shows posts you have interacted with or written yourself
  • before:date, during:date, after:date – Filters for posts before, during or after the selected date. Dates are written in the format YYYY-MM-DD, so for example posts after 1st June 2023 would be after:2023-06-01

Make sure there’s no space between the : and the other words when using these operators. For example, to search for posts with the word “elephant” that are in English, you would search for elephant language:en

Wait, what’s an “operator”?

It’s a special phrase you include in your search that makes the search behave in a special way. The list above describes all of the ones available in Mastodon.

Can I use several operators in the same search?

Yes, just include several operators along with the keyword or hashtag you’re searching for.

Can I use negative operators to exclude certain kinds of posts?

Yes. Just add a – (minus sign) before the term, for example to exclude posts with polls from results you would include the operator -has:poll

How do I opt in to being searched by words as well as hashtags?

Click this link to find out how to opt in to being in full text search results.

Even when I search for stuff, there’s never anything I want!

If you’re on a very new server, it’s possible that it hasn’t noticed much of the Fediverse yet. Try following some groups as they will send all their content to everyone who follows them. Also try asking your server’s admin if they might connect to a relay server, so that the server can see more of the Fediverse.

Wait… I can search for emoji?

Yes! Any emoji can be entered in the search box, and will show posts and profiles containing that emoji in the search results.

It’s a bit more complicated with custom emoji though, you may have to strip away the colons :: around the alt text that appears when you add a custom emoji to a post. The alt text without the colons will show you posts and profiles containing that custom emoji.

My server says search options are unavailable, what’s going on?

Advanced search based on full text keywords and special operators requires the server to be running a special add-on called “Elasticsearch”. Ask your admin about this, it’s possible they haven’t installed it, or they possibly lack the resources to install it as it does cost extra.

However, hashtag searches should work fine on all servers, even the ones without Elasticsearch.

I thought Mastodon only allowed searches with hashtags?

Until very recently, Mastodon searches were entirely based around hashtags. However, since version 4.2.0 (released in September 2023) Mastodon also allows full text searches where you just type what you want and it searches the entire texts of posts for matches.

HOWEVER… for privacy reasons the full text search system is opt-in, so you can only get search results for people who have opted into their posts being included in full text searches.

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