• Jeanne Hatton

How to find your documents in SharePoint and Microsoft 365

Updated: Nov 20, 2020

Often when files and documents and files are moved into SharePoint, chaos ensues, and the most common complaint is that users cannot find their documents. Making sure users can search effectively is a key win for user adoption.

SharePoint Search will suggest content based on user’s activity and will search not only title but the internal content of a document as well as metadata or properties (column names).

Search in SharePoint

To search a Library – type the name of your search in the top left-hand corner – this will only search in the document library chosen.

Search a site, file, and news in a SharePoint site

From the Home page in a SharePoint site, you can search everything on the site. You can include search words from any metadata / properties or content.

Click on the search box on the Home Page and press Enter

This will return the most relevant information to the user. The results are based on the user’s previous activity in the SharePoint site with the most relevant at the top. Without leaving Search, the user has the capability to explore and filter results.

You can search for All, Files and News. A filter can further refine the search. For example, you can refine by File Type as well as how long since their last modified date. A preview Thumbnail is also shown.

Searching is very fast – you may find it much quicker than navigating to your site or document libraries.

There are several ways you can refine any of the search boxes.


Use AND to narrow your search results. Example Policies AND Procedures


Use NOT to narrow your search results. Example Policies NOT Procedures


Use OR to expand your search to include more terms. Example “Project plan” OR “Business Case”

Use wildcards

Use a wildcard * if you want to be sure to get variations of the term you are looking for or if you are not sure about the spelling. Example: Project* to search for all items starting with the word project.

Use double quotes

Use double quotes “” to find exact phrases if you are sure about the phrases. Example: “Progress report”

If you find difficulty in finding your documents in SharePoint, invest some time in learning all about SharePoint Search.

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