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Advanced search (PREMIUM ALL)

Moved to GitLab Premium in 13.9.

You can use advanced search for faster, more efficient search across the entire GitLab instance. Advanced search is based on Elasticsearch, a purpose-built full-text search engine you can horizontally scale to get results in up to a second in most cases.

You can find code you want to update in all projects at once to save maintenance time and promote innersourcing.

You can use advanced search in:

  • Projects
  • Issues
  • Merge requests
  • Milestones
  • Users
  • Epics
  • Code
  • Comments
  • Commits
  • Project and group wikis

Enable advanced search


Advanced search uses Elasticsearch syntax. The syntax supports both exact and fuzzy search queries.

Syntax Description Example
" Exact search "gem sidekiq"
~ Fuzzy search J~ Doe
| Or display | banner
+ And display +banner
- Exclude display -banner
* Partial bug error 50*
\ Escape \*md
# Issue ID #23456
! Merge request ID !23456

User search

Ability to refine user search introduced in GitLab 15.10.

When you search for a user, a fuzzy query is used by default. You can refine user search with Elasticsearch syntax.

Code search

Syntax Description Example
filename: Filename filename:*spec.rb
path: Repository location 1 path:spec/workers/
extension: File extension without . 2 extension:js
blob: Git object ID 2 blob:998707*
  1. path: returns matches for full or partial paths.
  2. extension: and blob: return exact matches only.


Query Description
rails -filename:gemfile.lock Returns rails in all files except the gemfile.lock file.
RSpec.describe Resolvers -*builder Returns RSpec.describe Resolvers that does not start with builder.
bug | (display +banner) Returns bug or both display and banner.
helper -extension:yml -extension:js Returns helper in all files except files with a .yml or .js extension.
helper path:lib/git Returns helper in all files with a lib/git* path (for example, spec/lib/gitlab).

Known issues

  • You can only search files smaller than 1 MB. For more information, see issue 195764. For self-managed GitLab instances, an administrator can configure this setting.

  • You can use advanced search on the default branch of a project only. For more information, see issue 229966.

  • The search query must not contain any of the following characters:

    . , : ; / ` ' = ? $ & ^ | < > ( ) { } [ ] @

    For more information, see issue 325234.

  • Search results show only the first match in a file. For more information, see issue 668.