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Advanced search

DETAILS: Tier: Premium, Ultimate Offering: SaaS, self-managed

  • 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.