Searching in GitLab

GitLab has two types of searches available: basic and advanced.

Both types of search are the same, except when you are searching through code.

  • When you use basic search to search code, your search includes one project at a time.
  • When you use advanced search to search code, your search includes all projects at once.

Global search scopes

Introduced in GitLab 14.3.

To improve the performance of your instance’s global search, a GitLab administrator can limit the search scope by disabling the following ops feature flags.

ScopeFeature flagDescription
Codeglobal_search_code_tabWhen enabled, global search includes code.
Commitsglobal_search_commits_tabWhen enabled, global search includes commits.
Issuesglobal_search_issues_tabWhen enabled, global search includes issues.
Merge requestsglobal_search_merge_requests_tabWhen enabled, global search includes merge requests.
Usersglobal_search_users_tabWhen enabled, global search includes users.
Wikiglobal_search_wiki_tabWhen enabled, global search includes project wikis (not group wikis).

All global search scopes are enabled by default on and self-managed instances.

Global search validation

Global search ignores and logs as abusive any search with:

  • Fewer than 2 characters
  • A term longer than 100 characters (URL search terms must not exceed 200 characters)
  • A stop word only (for example, the, and, or if)
  • An unknown scope
  • group_id or project_id that is not completely numeric
  • repository_ref or project_ref with special characters not allowed by Git refname

Global search only flags with an error any search that includes more than:

  • 4096 characters
  • 64 terms

To start a search, in the upper-right corner of the screen, in the search bar, type your search query. You must type at least two characters.

search navbar

After the results are displayed, you can modify the search, select a different type of data to search, or choose a specific group or project.

search scope

Search in code

To search through code or other documents in a project:

  1. On the top bar, select Main menu > Projects and find your project.
  2. On the top bar, in the search field, type the string you want to search for.
  3. Press Enter.

Code search shows only the first result in the file.

To search across all of GitLab, ask your administrator to enable advanced search.

Introduced in GitLab 14.7.

After you find search results, you can view who made the last change to the line where the results were found.

  1. From the code search result, hover over the line number.
  2. On the left, select View blame.

code search results

Filter code search results by language

Introduced in GitLab 15.10.

To filter code search results by one or more languages:

  1. On the code search page, on the left sidebar, select one or more languages.
  2. On the left sidebar, select Apply.

Search for projects by full path

Version history

You can search for a project by entering its full path (including the namespace it belongs to) in the search box. As you type the project path, autocomplete suggestions are displayed.

For example, the search query:

  • gitlab-org/gitlab searches for the gitlab project in the gitlab-org namespace.
  • gitlab-org/ displays autocomplete suggestions for projects that belong to the gitlab-org namespace.

Search for a SHA

You can search for a commit SHA.

  1. On the top bar, select Main menu > Projects and find your project.
  2. On the top bar, in the search field, type the SHA.

If a single result is returned, GitLab redirects to the commit result and gives you the option to return to the search results page.

project SHA search redirect

Searching for specific terms

Version history

You can filter issues and merge requests by specific terms included in titles or descriptions.

  • Syntax
    • Searches look for all the words in a query, in any order. For example: searching issues for display bug returns all issues matching both those words, in any order.
    • To find the exact term, use double quotes: "display bug"
  • Limitation
    • For performance reasons, terms shorter than 3 chars are ignored. For example: searching issues for included in titles is same as included titles
    • Search is limited to 4096 characters and 64 terms per query.
    • When searching issues, partial matches are not allowed. For example: searching for play will not return issues that have the word display. But variations of words match, so searching for displays also returns issues that have the word display.

Retrieve search results as feed

Feeds for merge requests were introduced in GitLab 14.3.

GitLab provides RSS feeds of search results for your project. To subscribe to the RSS feed of search results:

  1. Go to your project’s page.
  2. On the left sidebar, select Issues or Merge requests.
  3. Perform a search.
  4. Select the feed symbol to display the results as an RSS feed in Atom format.

The URL of the result contains both a feed token, and your search query. You can add this URL to your feed reader.

Search history

Search history is available for issues and merge requests, and is stored locally in your browser. To run a search from history:

  1. In the top menu, select Issues or Merge requests.
  2. To the left of the search bar, select Recent searches, and select a search from the list.

Removing search filters

Individual filters can be removed by selecting the filter’s (x) button or backspacing. The entire search filter can be cleared by selecting the search box’s (x) button or via (Mac) + .

To delete filter tokens one at a time, the (Mac) / Control + keyboard combination can be used.

Autocomplete suggestions

In the search bar, you can view autocomplete suggestions for:

  • Projects and groups
  • Users
  • Various help pages (try and type API help)
  • Project feature pages (try and type milestones)
  • Various settings pages (try and type user settings)
  • Recently viewed issues (try and type some word from the title of a recently viewed issue)
  • Recently viewed merge requests (try and type some word from the title of a recently viewed merge request)
  • Recently viewed epics (try and type some word from the title of a recently viewed epic)
  • GitLab Flavored Markdown (GLFM) for issues in a project (try and type a GLFM reference for an issue)

Search settings

Version history

You can search inside a Project, Group, Administrator, or User’s settings by entering a search term in the search box located at the top of the page. The search results appear highlighted in the sections that match the search term.

Search project settings