Exact Code Search

Introduced in GitLab 15.9 with a flag named index_code_with_zoekt for indexing and search_code_with_zoekt for searching. Both are disabled by default.

We are still actively making changes to the Exact Code Search feature. GitLab will dogfood it first, and roll it out only to specific customers on GitLab.com who request access to it. We will make an announcement when it’s available for GitLab.com customers to tryout. You can follow our development progress by checking the Exact Code Search feature roadmap. On self-managed GitLab, it is technically possible to enable this feature, however, GitLab does not provide support or documentation at this stage of development and it has not been widely tested at scale. There are also many known limitations.


When performing any Code search in GitLab it will choose to use “Exact Code Search” powered by Zoekt if the project is part of an enabled Group.

The main differences between Zoekt and advanced search are that Zoekt provides exact substring matching as well as allows you to search for regular expressions. Since it allows searching for regular expressions, certain special characters will require escaping. Backslash can escape special characters and wrapping in double quotes can be used for phrase searches.


This table shows some example queries for exact code search.

fooReturns files that contain foo
"class foo"Returns files that contain the exact string class foo
class fooReturns files that contain both class and foo
foo or barReturns files that contain either foo or bar
class FooReturns files that contain class (case insensitive) and Foo (case sensitive)
class Foo case:yesReturns files that contain class and Foo (both case sensitive)
foo -barReturns files that contain foo but not bar
foo file:jsSearches for foo in files with names that contain js
foo -file:testSearches for foo in files with names that do not contain test
foo lang:rubySearches for foo in Ruby source code
foo f:\.js$Searches for foo in files with names that end with .js
foo.*barSearches for strings that match the regular expression foo.*bar