Advanced Searching In Microsoft Teams

Many of my posts are based on solving problems I’m encountering myself. As someone that uses Microsoft Teams for hours every day (literally….) I’m having conversations with colleagues inside Microsoft who are based all over the world, whilst also chatting with external customers and partners. At last count, I’m a member of well over 30 different Teams, I’ve probably left as many Teams as that again, and I’m a “guest” member in around 10 customer/partner tenants.

Using Teams as extensively as I do generates a LOT of data

Often, I know that I’ve seen a great answer or gold nugget of information inside of Teams, but I can’t recall if it was in a 1:1 chat directly with me, a group chat I was part of, in the Posts tab of a Team (formerly known as Conversations) or inside a document that is stored in a Team Files section.

Enter: The Global Search Bar in Microsoft Teams

Consistent with the Office365 unified design interface, there is a global search bar at the top of Microsoft Teams that acts as a powerful search engine of all content inside of Teams:

1 - Teams Search Bar

This search should become your friend very, very quickly if you have a lot of content inside of Microsoft Teams and it will return a LOT of results very quickly. Here is an example of a simple search for “M365” inside of my Teams:

Global Search Results

Search results have been removed and replaced with the red lines on the left

Notice in the above search that I’ve marked in red “1,2,3” showing the different category filters of the search content – pretty self explanatory:

  1. Any messages that have been sent that contain the search term
  2. People who’s name (or username) match the search term
  3. Files that contain the search term either in the name of the file OR inside the document itself (the latter shows the power of the search function in Teams)

The above is great, and at first check you might find what you’re looking for. However, when I’m a member of 30+ Teams, there is still a lot of manual parsing of search results to hopefully find what I’m looking for. Which led me to seeking an answer to the most pressing question:

Can you restrict a Microsoft Teams global search to a specific Team?

The answer is a resounding YES!

Filtering Microsoft Teams Search Results

When you have a need to be more granular and restrictive on your search, the good news is there are powerful filters that can help:

3 - Filters

Hidden out of sight below the initial Search Categories (Messages, People, Files) and the sought after search results, are three filters:

  • From: define a name (with intelligent search based on the Global Address List – GAL) – helpful if you remember who shared the content you’re looking for
  • Type: filter by “All” (i.e. no filter!), “Chat” (if you know the search content was in a chat you had) or “Channel” (if you can recall the specific channel it was in
  • More Filters: This is where it gets really interesting with a number of powerful search filters that can be applied to your content and is worth unpacking below.
4 - More Filters

Be sure to become familiar with the “More Filters” section to really narrow down your search for that gold nugget across your Teams

As you can see, once you can search inside of a specific Team you’re immediately getting laser focus on where the content might be, meaning you’ll have to do very little manual parsing of the search results to locate your content. This is great when you know you’ve seen content shared in the actual Microsoft Team site used by your immediate work team that you’re a part of.

However, this week I had cause to search for a post in a Team that I’m only a part-time member in (at best). The post related to social media that was being shared. In my memory I could recall:

  • The name of the person that posted it
  • The approximate time frame (it was in the last two weeks)
  • A key word I could search for
  • BUT – I could NOT remember the Team / Chat / Channel it was posted in.

I ended up combining filters across the main categories and “More filters” to find it:

  • From: I searched the poster’s name and it was auto-completed
  • Type: “Channel” I knew it had been posted in a Team channel as it was a broad communication and not a 1:1 chat message to me
  • More Filters:
    • Selected “Last Week” as the date range
    • Did not narrow it down to a specific Team or Channel as this is what I could not remember

With these applied, the filtered search found exactly one result – the content I was searching for:

5 - Search Results

Along with finding the post, it also showed the Microsoft Team the content was located in (Education Industry Team) and the Channel (General). Very helpful and a successful filtered search outcome!

Final Thoughts:

There is some documentation around the search function on Microsoft Support here, however it does not go into the details of More Filters. The Global Search bar also has some other intelligent tricks based on the “/” command (if you’ve come from a Command Line Interface or CLI world, you’ll be familiar that the forward slash often triggers commands). Simply enter “/” into the search box to see a list of immediate commands you can execute from within the Search Bar:

6 - more features

Who knew you could do so much from the Global Search Bar in Microsoft Teams?

If you’re an extensive user of Microsoft Teams, working within and across different organisations, then spend a few moments getting familiar with the advanced search filters in Microsoft Teams – it will definitely save you time!


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