Advanced Search Syntax (STARTER)

NOTE: availability: Advanced Search (powered by Elasticsearch) is enabled for Bronze and above on since 2020-07-10.

Use advanced queries for more targeted search results.

This is the user documentation. To install and configure Elasticsearch, visit the administrator documentation.


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

Advanced 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 Search Syntax

The Advanced Search Syntax 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 and bug display will return the same results.
  • 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 banner, use |: bug display | banner
  • To group terms together, use parentheses: bug | (display +banner)
  • To match a partial word, use *. In this example, I want to find bugs with any 500 errors. : bug error 50*
  • To use one of symbols above literally, escape the symbol with a preceding \: argument \-last

Syntax search filters

The Advanced Search Syntax 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.
  • blob: Filters by Git object ID. 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.


Excluding filters

Introduced in GitLab Starter 13.3.

Filters can be inverted to filter out results from the result set, by prefixing the filter name with a - (hyphen) character, such as:

  • -filename
  • -path
  • -extension
  • -blob