Reddit is an invaluable internet community, but when it comes to search, it’s far from perfect. This network of communities is full of useful information, on-point memes, and interesting debates, but trying to find the specific content you’re looking for is far more difficult than it should be (so much so that many users have taken to simply Googling their issue and adding the word “Reddit.”) But Reddit’s search can be more accurate and useful, if you know how to unlock its potential.
Yes, the Google method does work — especially if you add “site:reddit.com” to the begging of your query — but taking advantage of Reddit’s advanced search filters will make your on-site searches more productive, too. The tricks are similar to the ones you can use wit Google to yield better search results, so perhaps a refresher is in order.
Reddit filters can help narrow down your searches
Among your most powerful search tools are filters. These keywords allow you to tell Reddit to search for only specific things, rather than the entirety of Reddit. These aren’t menu-based, meaning you’ll need to know which terms to enter into the search bar to get the results you want. There are eight in total, and you can use them in the following ways:
- author: This word filters by username of the named account. For example, entering author:PresidentObama lists content posted only by u/PresidentObama.
- flair: This word filters by a subreddit’s flair, which means this filter will vary based on the subreddit. Some subreddits use flair to categorise posts, so entering flair:discussion will only show results that are based on user conversation and debate, rather than, say, news.
- self: This word filters posts made by an individual account, rather than posts linking to another site. Use self:true to search for only text-based posts, and self:false for all other types.
- selftext: This word searches text posts for a specific query. Entering selftext:dogs, for example, will search text posts for the word dog.
- site: This word filters for specific URLs. For example, use site:lifehacker.com to search for Reddit posts sharing Lifehacker articles.
- subreddit: This word filters for the specific subreddit listed. Use subreddit:askreddit to search for posts from only r/askreddit. Alternatively, if you search for something while browsing a subreddit, Reddit will automatically search only within that subreddit.
- title: This word filters for specific submission titles. If you search title:”broken keyboard,” you’ll only see posts that contain broken keyboard in the title. Note: always put multi-word searches in quotes.
- url: This word filters for specific words in a website’s URL, to narrow down a website search. You should combine this one with the site filter. For example, site:lifehacker.com url:iphone will only return Reddit posts with Lifehacker URLs containing the word iPhone.
On their own, these filters can range from helpful to useless. However, combining them will make your searches way more accurate. If you’re trying to find an answer to why your iPhone is heating up, you can string together something like subreddit:iPhone title:overheating flair:question and find ultra-specific posts about your question. There’s apparently no limit on the amount of strings you can put together, so go ham.
Use boolean operators for even better Reddit search results
You can also search using boolean operators (AND, OR, and NOT). These operators are case sensitive, and can be used like so:
- Placing AND between words in a search tells Reddit to search for posts with all the words listed. Searching “iPhone AND Android” will yield results that only contain both words; searching “iPhone AND Android AND comparison” will yield results that only contain all three words.
- Use OR between words to pull up results for at least one of the words listed. For example, you could search “Mac OR Windows” to see results that contain either Mac, Windows, or both.
- NOT is used between words when you want results for the first word but not the second. Searching “iPhone NOT iPad” will show results that contain the word iPhone but not the word iPad.
You can also use parentheses to change the meaning of the search when using multiple boolean operators. Searching “iPhone NOT iPad OR Android,” for example, will exclude posts with the word iPad, but will show posts that use either iPhone or Android, while iPhone NOT (iPad OR Android) shows only posts that have the word iPhone and excludes posts that have either the word iPad or Android.
Other Reddit search tools you shouldn’t ignore
Of course, don’t forget about the search tools that are more transparent. When you make a search, you’ll be able to sorts searches by “Posts,” “Comments,” “Communities,” and “People.” Under “Sort,” you have the option to sort results by the usual options you have across Reddit: “Relevance,” “Hot,” “Top,” “New,” or “Most Comments.” Possibly more useful, however, is the “Time” sorting option, which lets you search by “All Time,” “Past Year,” “Month,” “Week,” “24 hours,” and “Hour,” which can go a long way to narrow down a specific result.
Hopefully, these tools help you find exactly what you’re looking for in your next big Reddit search. If you first search doesn’t yield the right results, try adding more filters to the string, or removing ones that might be interfering. It’d be nice if Reddit eventually added these options in an “expanded search” field, but for now, we’ll have to make do on our own.