Social Media

How to Search Facebook – and Find Just About Anything!

Angela Randall 22-01-2016

Facebook search is possibly the most powerful, under-used feature available to us all. Most of us will happily type in a friends name, a group name or a page we’re searching for, but rarely will we use the function for more interesting searches.


But maybe you will after reading this article. We’re going to take you through the how and why of these extremely useful searches 5 Tools To Help You Find Anything In Your Facebook Timeline Where is that post I shared on Facebook?! Sound familiar? What many people don't realize is there's a far better alternative than endlessly scrolling down your or a friend's Timeline. Read More , so you’ll be able to find just about anything.

How to Search for Friends on Facebook

This is the most basic of searches: typing your friend’s name into the search bar. The results will find people you’ve friended on Facebook, friends of friends, celebrities and more, hopefully in the right order for you to find who you’re looking for.

Now, you can also search directly for the email address of someone you know. If they’ve added that email address to Facebook and made it visible to you, you’ll find them straight away. And don’t forget that by importing your contacts Facebook will automatically suggest your friends that match those email addresses too.

How to Search for Someone on Facebook

So, what if you’re trying to find someone in particular who isn’t a friend of yours? Perhaps you’re doing a bit of genealogy and trying to find a distant relative you’ve never met. Here’s where you can start to use some of the other search functions.

Facebook People Search


For starters, when typing in someone’s name and looking at the suggested results, Facebook will show you if you’re not connected directly to a person, as you’ll be able to add them as a friend. It will also show you how many mutual friends you have, and who those people are. So, in the case of searching for a distant relative, you may find the right person more easily by noting the relatives more closely related to you.

If they have a very common name, you could narrow the results down by using some of the following search tools.

How to Search by Phone Number on Facebook

Believe it or not, you can actually search for a phone number in the regular Facebook search field. Try it with your own number, or your best friend, if you don’t believe it.

How can this phone search be useful? Well, remember that gorgeous girl you met at the bar last night? Would it be insane to check out her Facebook profile before you call? What about business cards you’ve collected at a conference? That person you’re considering hiring? The other people on the cast list of your local theater group?


I think this is incredibly useful, actually. Just don’t become a stalker with it.

How to Search for Posts on Facebook

This is the everyday Facebook search query. It’s the one where you’re looking for any news and chit-chat on a particular topic.

You can just focus on a simple keyword or you can actually make use of Facebook Graph Search to find results relevant to you. Facebook actually gives the best example of this themselves: You vaguely recall a friend mentioning their mom made the best cookies and linking to the recipe. Now, who was it? And where’s that recipe?

Search on Facebook


Start with “Cookie Recipe” and you might actually find something useful, but add in names of who you think it might have been and suddenly you hit gold. Facebook knows that the “Lisa” you mean is your friend Lisa, not some other random person, so that result is the exact post you originally saw. AND the recipe.

Search For Posts On Facebook

I’ve previously noted many more ways you can use the Facebook graph search to find interesting things 6 Cool Things You Can Find With Facebook's New Graph Search Features [Weekly Facebook Tips] Facebook has just given its graph search another boost, and those who have been upgraded are now able to search post history as well as photo history. What is it good for? Read More and search for cool stuff Cool Things To Search For With Graph Search [Weekly Facebook Tips] Facebook Graph Search recently made a huge splash on the search scene, allowing all Facebook users to mine data that is either public or visible to them via their friends. The result is that regular... Read More about your friends. For instance, try “posts about Netflix by people who like the TV shows that I like”, or “posts about politics by people who like Greenpeace”, or “posts I commented on about cookies”.

There is an incredible amount of information right there at your fingertips. You don’t have to limit yourself to hashtag searches when there’s so much else you can do.


How to Search History on Facebook

If you want to search just your own posts, you can use the regular search bar as above, just using “posts by me” or you can search through your activity in a different way.

Head to your activity log:

Now, you have a simple search field you can use to find things you posted, either on your own timeline, in groups or on pages. This search isn’t actually as powerful as Facebook’s graph search.

For instance, in my activity feed I could see a post I’d recently liked from a private group. I searched for a few keywords in my activity feed and it gave me no result, even though I could clearly see it right there. With the Facebook Graph Search, I threw in the same keywords and it gave me the result saying that my friend had posted about it, then took me straight to that post.

My advice: Use the activity feed to browse, but do all of your searching in the regular Facebook Graph Search field.

How to Search for Groups on Facebook

Groups are tough, because while you can search for public or closed groups, some of the best are secret. They’re hidden away and you’ll never find them by searching (because they don’t want to be found).

Facebook Search Groups Tab

Also, if you search for “group” followed by the topic you’re interested in, all the top suggested results will be for groups you’re already in. It’s actually better to just search for the keyword of the group, press enter so you get the full selection of results, then click on the “Groups” tab of the results to filter it properly. This way you’ll find lots of groups for whatever niche you’re after.

How to Search by Location on Facebook

For the primitive location search of Facebook, just type the location name. If you’re searching for anything at all to do with a particular place, just using the place name as a keyword will bring up casual comments, news, events, check-ins, and the rest. That’s the first thing you’d do if you were about to travel there, for instance.

You can also get a little more specific, by phrasing your search like a regular sentence. Try “vegetarian restaurants in Bordeaux” and you’ll see all two of the restaurants jump out at you.

How To Seach For Locations in Facebook

But names are re-used throughout the world and can get confusing as keywords for searches. And although Facebook does try to anticipate what you mean, eventually it has to offer more results just in case you meant something else.

If you want to know how to search by city in a more nuanced way, try searching for the postcode instead of the city name. So, Bordeaux city center would be “vegetarian restaurant in 33000”. Strangely, this brings up a different result, because one of the original restaurants is in the greater Bordeaux area, not in the center of the city. This is perfect if you’re actually looking for a restaurant close to where you’re going to be.

But you can get even more specific too: try “Hotels in New York visited by my friends” or “Places in London visited by people who like David Tennant”. I’m sure you can think of more along those lines!

What Do You Think of Facebook Search?

Don’t forget that you can only see things that have been shared with you or publicly. So, the results you get will depend on your friends and their privacy settings Facebook Photo Privacy Settings You Need To Know About As with everything regarding privacy on Facebook, managing your photos' privacy settings isn't always easy. Read More . The same goes for the other way around: if you don’t want things to show up in Facebook searches, you simply need to sort out your privacy settings Prepare Your Account Privacy For Facebook Graph Search [Weekly Facebook Tips] Every time Facebook releases a new feature to learn more about our friends, many people realise that their privacy settings are not adequate anymore. Their latest new feature, Facebook Graph Search, is no exception -... Read More , make sure you’re not sharing your location unwittingly Are You Sharing Your Location On Facebook Without Knowing? [Weekly Facebook Tips] Have you been giving your stalkers your address inadvertently? You might accidentally be giving all of your Facebook friends the exact location of your house, your office and where your kids go to school. Read More , untag yourself from photos, and perhaps also ask a few friends to remove some photos 3 Things You Need To Know About Photo Tagging In Facebook When you are being tagged in a photo, the tag not only reveals that you are in the photo, it also links to your Facebook profile and, if done well, is positioned across your face.... Read More of you completely.

After you master Facebook search, how about trying these geeky Facebook hacks next?

Related topics: Facebook, Web Search.

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  1. Christian Ratnayake
    March 30, 2019 at 9:44 am

    Dear Ms. Randall
    I have been trying to find a email address to contact face book with
    no success.
    My face book full of unwanted notifications. More than 40 a time.
    I am a 85year old man && do not wish to contact anyone.
    I will be most thankful if you kindly let me know how to contact
    face book to cancel my account.
    Thank you

  2. Barbara McVey
    December 21, 2016 at 12:50 am

    To whom it may concern,
    I would like to find a relative maybe around Hyde, Cheshire area, Near Greater Manchester, UK. or elsewhere I know her age about 73, where she may have gone to School flowery Field Secondary Hyde , and may have married at Flowery Field Church Newton Hyde when she was about 21 to a William or John Mac lean Roberts or Young. Brenda,s father name was William known as Bill. Brenda,s Mother was Mary Ford formerly Cragg . Would like to connect with Brenda and /or any children or grandchildren , g grandchildren if any.
    appreciate any help if possible thanks. My name is Barbara Mcvey /ne leah from S Australia

  3. Marya
    October 16, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    How do I search in my group as administrator members gender? Like all female? (member who put female in their FB)

    How do I search in my grou as administrator members who were deleted, removed or blocked by FB so I can also remove from my group?

  4. Anonymous
    August 30, 2016 at 5:50 pm

    I have belonged to a FB group for a couple of years. At first, I was able to do searches (via search bar at upper right of the page) within the group for names or places and the search function worked well to dredge up results from what appeared to be the inception of the group several years before I joined. But now the intra-group search is nearly useless. I have searched for names or places or phrases that I know were posted within the last 2 years and nothing is found unless contained in very recent posts.

    What has happened to FB's search? FB is nowhere near as useful as it was. Very disappointing.

  5. Ljohn74
    August 19, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    Facebook search sucks big time.

  6. jack
    July 25, 2016 at 9:15 pm

    facebook search for people for reunions etc is next to useless

  7. margaret fasy
    July 5, 2016 at 3:53 am

    My sister made a mistake of deleting a friend and wants to get it back. How does she go about doing that?

  8. Margarete Fochtman
    May 12, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    I have discovered a scam that a group called Ashley Howard, posting a photo of Sarah Palin, promises free grants up to 500k for a small fee. The group is "government sponsored". If you make the payment, then a filing fee, or IRS fee or something is asked for before you can get your grant ....which is supposedly on its way....fees are to be paid to an address in Nigeria. When fee is paid, then there is usually another demand. Since some people actually get their grant and tell friends, the friends are the ones who get scammed. Can find no place but this site, so far, to spread the word.

  9. Anonymous
    March 23, 2016 at 4:22 am

    The FB search sucks. It is nearly worthless.
    There is no decent way to search among your own posts and comments, and those of your friends, or of specified person.
    FB search returns either nothing or useless stuff posted by who knows whom, and who cares.

    • Tiribulus (Greg)
      October 29, 2016 at 4:24 am

      Yes it is. Almost totally useless for the reasons you give.

  10. Pravin Kumar S
    January 24, 2016 at 9:39 pm

    Wow!! Thanks for the write-up, Angela. I was looking for something like this one. It's a pity that Facebook removed advanced search option.