GitLab Advanced Search

Moved to GitLab Premium in 13.9.

Advanced Search uses Elasticsearch for faster, more advanced search across the entire GitLab instance.

Use Advanced Search when searching in:

  • Projects
  • Issues
  • Merge requests
  • Milestones
  • Users
  • Epics (when searching in a group only)
  • Code
  • Comments
  • Commits
  • Wiki (except group wikis)

Advanced Search can be useful in various scenarios:

  • Faster searches: Advanced Search is based on Elasticsearch, which is a purpose-built full text search engine that can be horizontally scaled so that it can provide search results in 1-2 seconds in most cases.
  • Code Maintenance: Finding all the code that needs to be updated at once across an entire instance can save time spent maintaining code. This is especially helpful for organizations with more than 10 active projects. This can also help build confidence is code refactoring to identify unknown impacts.
  • Promote innersourcing: Your company may consist of many different developer teams each of which has their own group where the various projects are hosted. Some of your applications may be connected to each other, so your developers need to instantly search throughout the GitLab instance and find the code they search for.

For self-managed GitLab instances, an administrator must configure Advanced Search.

On GitLab.com, Advanced Search is enabled.

Advanced Search syntax

See the documentation on Advanced Search syntax.

Search by issue or merge request ID

You can search a specific issue or merge request by its ID with a special prefix.

  • To search by issue ID, use prefix # followed by issue ID. For example, #23456
  • To search by merge request ID, use prefix ! followed by merge request ID. For example !23456

Global search scopes

Introduced in GitLab 14.3.

To improve the performance of your instance’s global search, you can limit the scope of the search. To do so, you can exclude global search scopes by disabling ops feature flags.

Global search has all its scopes enabled by default in GitLab SaaS and self-managed instances. A GitLab administrator can disable the following ops feature flags to limit the scope of your instance’s global search and optimize its performance:

Scope Feature flag Description
Code global_search_code_tab When enabled, the global search includes code as part of the search.
Commits global_search_commits_tab When enabled, the global search includes commits as part of the search.
Issues global_search_issues_tab When enabled, the global search includes issues as part of the search.
Merge Requests global_search_merge_requests_tab When enabled, the global search includes merge requests as part of the search.
Users global_search_users_tab When enabled, the global search includes users as part of the search.
Wiki global_search_wiki_tab When enabled, the global search includes wiki as part of the search. Group wikis are not included.

Global Search validation

Introduced in GitLab 14.6 with a flag named prevent_abusive_searches. Disabled by default.

On self-managed GitLab, by default this feature is not available. To make it available, ask an administrator to enable the feature flag named prevent_abusive_searches. The feature is not ready for production use.

To prevent abusive searches, such as searches that may result in a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), Global Search ignores, logs, and doesn’t return any results for searches considered abusive according to the following criteria, if prevent_abusive_searches feature flag is enabled:

  • Searches with less than 2 characters.
  • Searches with any term greater than 100 characters. URL search terms have a maximum of 200 characters.
  • Searches with a stop word as the only term (for example, “the”, “and”, “if”, etc.).
  • Searches with a group_id or project_id parameter that is not completely numeric.
  • Searches with a repository_ref or project_ref parameter that has special characters not allowed by Git refname.
  • Searches with a scope that is unknown.

Regardless of the status of the prevent_abusive_searches feature flag, searches that don’t comply with the criteria described below aren’t logged as abusive but are flagged with an error:

  • Searches with more than 4096 characters.
  • Searches with more than 64 terms.