NOTE: As Facebook continually updates their ability to search timeline via the graph search, I continue to test and update this post about fb search capabilities at the bottom, so be sure to read all the way through. If you still have questions, feel free to ask in a comment and I will help where I can.
Three different people asked me similar questions about their Facebook timeline in the last month, which leads me to believe that, even though this capability has existing for a while, some folks aren’t aware that you can search your Facebook feed for a post from the past.
Yep, that’s right, if you were wondering how to find old posts on Facebook, there is a way to do it and it’s pretty easy. And it’s not just posts from the last week, it’s posts that go back years.
Here’s the latest question that I received about the topic:
Hey Sean – Can you help me figure out how to find a Facebook post that I posted on my own timeline a few years ago? To be clear, I’m just looking to search my Facebook posts in order to find one of my own status updates. I don’t want to have to scroll through years of posts on my Facebook timeline.
Thanks for asking, Janet! The good news is it’s pretty easy to search for a post on Facebook, so…here’s the answer.
When Facebook introduced their updated search graph a while back, one of the capabilities was the ability to search for posts from a specific person or even posted by you. The goal was to make it so you wouldn’t have to scroll through your Facebook timeline, which likely contains thousands of posts, to find the one you want.
So, I thought I’d put together a quick tutorial on how to search on Facebook that will hopefully help other folks out.
Searching For Your Own Facebook Posts
If you want to learn how to search on Facebook, the first thing you need to understand is that it’s not as easy as just typing the phrase and pressing the Enter key, like on Google. You have to know a little bit about the Facebook graph search syntax because it’s the special language that powers Facebook search. It might seem complex at first, but once you get used to it, it’s pretty straight-forward.
As an example, I wrote a few haikus on Facebook quite a while back and I wanted to show them to my daughter while she was in the process of writing a haiku for school. In order to do that, I needed to search my own posts for the keyword “haiku”. Keep in mind that my haikus were posted a LONG time ago (relatively speaking in the world of Facebook).
To do this, I simply typed “Posts by me with Haiku” and Facebook returned all posts where I was the author and I included the word “haiku”.
Don’t judge my poetry.
The key to searching in Facebook is understanding the syntax. In the search above, there are basically three components:
- Posts – Tells Facebook that we’re searching for post content like status updates, not images or videos.
- By me – Tells Facebook that I only want to see the posts that I authored.
- With Haiku – Tells Facebook to find only those posts that have the word Haiku in them.
Easy, right? Using this simple structure, you can search old Facebook posts, so long as you remember at least one of the words that you posted. And that’s just how to search Facebook posts for content that you posted.
The Facebook search feature also allows you to go beyond searching for your own posts and find Facebook posts that were published by yoru friends and family.
NOTE: You can still use the search box to type in Facebook keywords. When you do that, it will return friends, pages, groups, etc…that match the keyword. So if you type in McDonald into the Facebook search and press Enter, it will return your friends who are named McDonald, it could show you the McDonald’s Facebook page, or even a group called “Old McDonald Had A Farm”. The keyword search on Facebook still works, it just returns a LOT of varying results.
Searching Other People’s Facebook Posts
If you want to use Facebook search for other people’s posts, you could easily switch up the syntax and ask something about your friends.
For example, imagine that you can’t find an awesome infographic that one of your friends posted about social media community management.
Just use a query like “Posts by my friends with social media management”. In this case, the query breaks down like this:
- Posts – Search only posts.
- By my friends – In this case, Facebook is only going to return content that your friends have posted
- With social media management – Facebook is going to find those posts that contain the words social media management
TIP: If you use a multi-word phrase like social media management, the Facebook search algorithm will do it’s best to find all of those words, but will also return posts that have just the word social or media or management. If you really want to hone in on a phrase like social media management and you ONLY want to see results with the full phrase, then just put the phrase in quotes. That way it would look like Posts by my friends with “social media management”.
While most people use the search function to find friends or pages, it really does offer a pretty robust content search capability.
Here are a few more queries that you might give a try:
- Pages liked by me who like Nike – This will show you all the pages that both you and Nike like
- My Friends who like Nike – Pretty self-explanatory
- Friends of my friends who work for Garmin – COOL! You can actually find out who in your social network works for a company that you might be considering. In addition, because you have a relationship with them (via your friend), you might be able to connect directly with them to ask questions.
There you have it. Search capability that allows you to find those posts you were looking for or had maybe even forgotten about.
If you really want to dig in and learn more about Facebook search and all of it’s robust commands, there’s a pretty good help section on Facebook dedicated just to search.
Hope that helps others out there!
Update #1 – Facebook Mobile Search Capabilities On Android
Great questions came up about whether this solution works on mobile devices. As you can see in the screen capture below, the solution works great on the Android Facebook app. I’ll be testing later today on iOS and will report back.
Update #2 – Facebook Mobile Search Capabilities On Apple iOS
As you’ll see below, testing on an Apple iPhone confirms that the search function works with the most recent version of the Facebook app. If you aren’t able to use the search function, be sure to check to be sure you’re using the most recent version of the app.
Update #3 – Can’t I just use my browser’s search capability to find past posts on my Facebook timeline?
I got a question from a reader that asked whether they could just use the Chrome or Safari search feature that is included in the browser to find older posts in your Facebook timeline. Unfortunately, the short answer is “no”. Here’s why.
In case you were wondering how to search for a word on a page in a browser, you can just press CRTL+F in Chrome or Firefox or CMD+F in Safari to open a search box. Type in your search term and the browser will identify any instances of your search term on the page that is open.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t work for social networks like Facebook and Twitter because they use a technology called Ajax to only load a certain number of posts at a time. As you scroll down the page, Ajax makes a call to the server and loads more posts. This means that to use the browser search feature, you would have to:
- Load the page
- Open the browser search and type your work or phrase
- Click Find.
- If no results were found, scroll down the page to load more posts
- Click Find.
- …and so on.
It’s not a very easy way because you could be scrolling for hours to find the post that you want. It’s just easier to use the Facebook search feature to locate the post.