You can search your ArcGIS Pro project for data and for project items such as tools, maps, layouts, and reports. Searches can help you find specific items of interest—for example, a dataset you need for a geoprocessing tool or a map that contains a certain layer. Searches can also help you explore large collections of data.
Searches can be performed in the catalog view, Catalog pane, or the browse dialog box. Each offers a slightly different experience. In all cases, you type a search term (or terms) in the search box and press Enter to get results.
Search for project items
When you search your project, you can find items stored in most of the project's item collections: maps, toolboxes, databases, folders, and so on. Items are found on the basis of the project index that is maintained and dynamically updated for each project.
The content that is indexed and searched depends on the resources you add to a project. Items stored in the project file (.aprx), such as maps and layouts, are indexed. Databases and toolboxes, along with their contents, are indexed. Folder contents are indexed, although folders themselves are not. The index is built from item names and the information stored in item descriptions, specifically, the content of the Title, Tags, Summary, and Description fields.
In most cases, searches do not return items that are not used by ArcGIS Pro or that cannot be added to a project. For example, searches do not return Microsoft Word documents or PowerPoint presentations; nor do they return ArcGIS Pro project packages and templates.
By default, only locations on your computer—or on devices directly connected to your computer, such as USB drives—are indexed. Optionally, you can index network drives and enterprise geodatabases; however, indexing these locations may be time-consuming. Learn more about which items are indexed.
When a project is indexed for the first time, or is rebuilt during a scheduled update, it may take some time before a complete set of search results is available. This is true especially if the project contains folder or database connections to large collections of data. If you perform a search in this situation, you will see a message that indexing is in progress. Search results start to appear as you wait.
If a search does not return results, it may mean there are no relevant items to be found. However, there are additional factors to consider:
- You may be searching a specific item collection, such as Toolboxes or Maps, rather than the whole project.
- You may need to refresh a location's content.
- Relevant project items may be stored in a nonindexed location such as a network disk or enterprise geodatabase.
- You may have turned off indexing. Alternatively, a software administrator managing your application settings may have turned off indexing.
Project searches do not return styles or their contents. To search for style items, such as symbols or color schemes, make a catalog view active. In the Contents pane, click a style to select it. You can then use the catalog view search box to search the contents of that style. Alternatively, you can search for symbols in the Symbology pane.
Search within an item collection
By default, most item collections in your project are searched. In the catalog view or browse dialog box, you can restrict your search to a specific item collection by selecting it. For example, if you select the Toolboxes collection in the Contents pane of the catalog view and search for the keyword districts, results are returned only from project toolboxes.
Search by keyword
To search for items, enter a keyword or keywords in the search box in the catalog view, Catalog pane, or browse dialog box. For example, enter the word city to look for items related to cities. Add more keywords to refine the search. A search for city park returns only items indexed on both keywords.
Keyword order does not affect search results. A search for city park returns the same items as a search for park city.
Keywords are not case-sensitive. A search for CITY returns the same items as a search for city. Underscores and hyphens are treated in the same way as spaces. For example, a search for flow finds items named flow-direction and flow_direction as well as items that contain the word flow in their item description.
Keywords searches are stemmed; that is, search results return the root form of inflected words. For example, if you search for zones or zoning, your results will include items that contain the word zone.
It is not necessary to use a wildcard character, such as an asterisk (*), to find unspecified characters at the end of a keyword. This functionality is built in to searches. For example, if you search for wind, your results will include items that contain words such as windmill, windstorm, and so on. Wildcards are not supported at the beginning or in the middle of words.
Sort search results
The default order of search results puts the most relevant results at the top. Relevance is determined by factors such as whether the keyword is part of the item name or title, how often the keyword appears in the item description, and whether the item is stored in the project file.
In the catalog view or browse dialog box, click the Sort button to change the sort order. Depending on your location in the catalog, different item properties are available to sort on. You can always return to the default sort order.
You can also sort items in the following ways:
- Click a column heading in the catalog view. Click again to reverse the sort order.
- On the ribbon, click the Catalog tab. In the Organize group, click Sort and choose a sort method.
Use Boolean operators
You can narrow or widen a search using the Boolean operators AND, OR, and NOT. Boolean operators must be entered in capital letters.
This operator is used between keywords. Items are returned if they are indexed on all the keywords connected by AND. This operator is usually unnecessary because typing two keywords without AND has the same effect.
The search parks AND urban returns items indexed both on the word parks and on the word urban. (The search parks urban returns the same results.)
This operator is used between keywords. Items are returned if they are indexed on any of the words connected by OR.
The search parks OR urban returns items indexed on the word parks, items indexed on the word urban, and items indexed on both words.
This operator is used before keywords, Items are not returned if they are indexed on a word that follows NOT.
The search parks NOT urban returns items indexed on the keyword parks that are not indexed on the keyword urban.
You can combine operators to add complexity to a search. Use parentheses or repeat the operator to make the logic clear.
- The search historic AND (buildings OR districts) returns these items:
- Items indexed on the word historic and the word buildings
- Items indexed on the word historic and the word districts
- The search (historic AND buildings) OR districts returns these items:
- Items indexed on the word historic and the word buildings
- Items indexed on the word districts
- The search historic NOT buildings NOT districts returns items indexed on the word historic and not indexed on the word buildings and not indexed on the word districts.
A hyphen (-) has the same effect as the NOT operator.
Use quotation marks
Use quotation marks to find items that contain an exact phrase. For example, a search for “open water” returns items only if these two words are indexed next to each other and in this order.
Use item fields
Indexes are built from item descriptions. You can limit searches to specific elements of the item description with item field names. The syntax for an item field name search is item field name:keyword. The following table lists item field names and usage examples.
Item field names
|Item field name||Description|
The Title field of the item description. By default, the title matches the item's file name, but it can be changed.
The search title:birds returns items with the word birds in the title. (It also returns items with birds in the file name.)
The data type of an item. This property is set by the software.
The search type:”geodatabase feature class” returns geodatabase feature classes. The search type:shapefile returns shapefiles.
To get the best results, use quotation marks around the item type if it contains more than one word.
Items of a specific data type are also returned if the search keyword specifies the data type without an item field name. For example, a search for shapefile returns shapefiles as well as items indexed on the word shapefile.
The Tags field of the item description
The search tags:agriculture returns items only if the word agriculture is a tag.
The Summary field of the item description.
The search snippet:boundary returns items only if the word boundary appears in the summary.
The Description field of the item description.
The search description:satellite returns items only if the word satellite appears in the description.
The Credits field of the item description.
The search credits:Esri returns items only if the name Esri appears in the credits.
The Use Limitations field of the item description.
The search accessinformation:attribution returns items only if the word attribution appears in the use limitations.
Differences in search experiences
The catalog view, Catalog pane, and browse dialog box provide similar, but not identical, search experiences.
- You can sort search results in the catalog view and browse dialog box but not in the Catalog pane.
- In the Catalog pane, you can’t restrict searches to a specific item collection.
- Style items can only be searched in the catalog view.
- In the catalog view, if a map is returned as a search result, you can double-click it to see its layers. In the Catalog pane, you can't browse into a map that is a search result.
- In the browse dialog box, you can’t search folders under Computer. Use Windows Explorer to search these folders. (These folders don’t appear in the catalog view or Catalog pane unless you add root-level folder connections.)
Manage search results
You can manage search results in the search box.
- To clear a search, click the Delete button in the search box.
- To repeat a recent search, click the search box drop-down arrow and click one of the listed searches.
- To clear the search history, click the search box drop-down arrow and click Clear History.
Use search results
A common reason to search for an item is to add data to a map. However, searches have many purposes. For example, you may need to find a dataset to use as the input to a geoprocessing tool, or you may want to rename an item, delete it, or update its metadata. For more information about how search results can be used, see Use project and portal items.
Prepare data for searching
When you create data, you should add robust item descriptions, as this information is indexed and used in searches. Tags should include thematic words that describe the nature of the content as well as geographic tags. You may also want to add tags that help identify the data by time, by data creator or steward, or by other relevant characteristics.
The title is also an important property of the item description. By default, the title matches the item name. Spatial datasets often have abbreviated or cryptic names. For example, a dataset of city landmarks may be named ctylndmrk. A search for city will not return this dataset based on its file name. Editing the item description title to City Landmarks ensures that the dataset will be found by searches for the word city or the word landmarks.