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How to use search refiners

Whether you're browsing your content, or searching the traditional way with the search box, there are instances where you may get a large number of search results. When that happens, you can end up wasting a lot of time wading your way through the long list of files returned, as you try to locate the file that you need. And this is where search refiners come in. 

Search refiners allow you to filter out unwanted results, and get to the right file much quicker. 

Let's see an example. 

After searching for the term 'capacititech', there are 26 files in the search return within the 'Proposal Library' content source:


To view the refiners available for the 'Proposal Library' content source, we can click anywhere inside the search box: 


In this example, the search refiners we have available are the Products and Services, Locations and Content Categories filters (yellow box), as well as file type filters (blue boxes). 

Expanding a filter group reveals the choices available for that group: 


Then it's just a matter of selecting the filters you'd like to apply to the search. Here, we're limiting the search to return only files that are relevant to the 'Artificial Intelligence' and 'Automation' range of products. 

Once you're happy with the filters and/or file types you've selected, simply click on the magnifying glass (or hit the ENTER key on your keyboard) to filter results. 


In the above example, applying filters has reduced the number of files returned from 26 to 8.

A few important notes on search refiners: 

1. The search refiners available largely depend on the type of content source you're searching or browsing, as well as how the content is being managed and is structured within your Office365. For instance, file type filters are available across OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online Library content sources, but not for SharePoint Online Lists (since lists are in tabular format and do not consist of files). 

2. If you have setup your content in such a way that you have custom filters on some or all of your content sources, like the 'Products and Services' filter in the example above, you'll only be able to see and use those filters once you've selected the content source by using the checkmark icon on the Search Home screen, or after you have clicked on and are browsing that content source.

This is more easily explained with an example.

Here's what happens when clicking on the search box, with three content sources selected: 


Custom filters don't show because there's more than one content source selected. 

And here's what happens when only one content source is selected: 


The custom filters for the selected content source are now available, and we can filter out unwanted results. 



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