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SMF User Help: Searching

IntroductionRegisteringLogging InProfilePostingPersonal MessageSearching

While SMF naturally incorporates a powerful search engine, knowing how to use it is not surprisingly the key to returning successful results!

  1. Starting a Search
  2. Syntax
    1. Quote Marks
  3. Simple or Advanced?
    1. Simple Search
    2. Advanced Search

Starting a Search

Assuming the forum is running the SMF default theme (or a derivative of it), there should be both a simple Search field (partnered by an Advanced search text link) in the collapsable top section and a Search option in the main menu. If not, the main menu Search option should still lead straight to the advanced search screen.


While you can just type (and search for) any combination of characters, you should consider using quotes to make your search really work for you:

Quote Marks

To put this in a nutshell, searching for simple machines forum will return any or all of these three words, but enclosing the search string in double quote marks (ie "simple machines forum") will return only the entire phrase.

Simple or Advanced?

Simple Search

To use the simple search (if enabled), the basic syntax outlined above is all you really need to know. But you might also like to know that this tool searches the entire forum for any or all of what you specify that's been posted during the last 9999 days (which is more than 27 years)! So, to take more control of your search, you should use the advanced search feature.

Advanced Search

Although the advanced search screen might initially seem a little intimidating if a forum has many boards and child boards, it's surprisingly straightforward when reduced to its basic components:

+  Forum Name
|- +  Search
Set Search Parameters
Search for:   by user:
Options: Message age:

Between and days.
Search order:

Choose a board to search in, or search all:

Category name