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Notion Search Sucks: Here's Why and 3 Things You Can Do to Improve It

Itay Itzhaki
By Itay Itzhaki
Joel Taylor
Reviewed by Joel Taylor

Updated January 19, 2023.

Colorful graphics of various work symbols stacked in a triangle shape

Enterprise search platforms are the single most significant tool for organizations to enhance productivity. Notion is one of the most popular project management software solutions out there, and while it takes care of some big, hairy problems, searching for files/docs within the platform is an absolute nightmare.

One of the biggest problems is that Notion’s search engine lacks the ability to conduct refined global searches within databases from the main search area. For best results, your team should be able to search Notion holistically rather than piecemeal to find the exact results they need. Read on to discover why Notion search function is not working for you and steps you can take to fix it.

✶ Transform how you use Notion by integrating it with Unleash

Notion Search Is Basic and Lacks Internal Search Integrations

For a tool that is supposed to increase efficiency and production, users cite a few major drawbacks to the native search capabilities presently available. A lot of times it's not working properly, and when it does, it's just too slow. Notion's Quick Find has the following drawbacks:

  • Lack of integration: Since there is no integration between quick find and databases, searching for specific data in a database table is practically nonexistent without navigating to the exact database you need. Having multiple databases means having to manually configure a new search every single time.
  • Over-reliance on keywords: Keyword searches are not dependable, as they may fail to pull up relevant content that doesn’t mention the search keyword directly. Thus, researchers may miss important information, and when the search results are not exact, the risk of providing poor data is increased.
  • No global search option: Notion’s Quick Find doesn’t cover subpages. The lack of a global search option means that searching for exact titles, pages, authors or dates is a futile effort, due to the limited search range. Trying to search all pages in Notion proves to be a difficult task without further software integrations.
  • Disappointing sorting options: Once a keyword search has been done, sorting results by preference is available. The available sorting options are very basic and can be found in most search engines nowadays.

Notion’s Filter option continues to disappoint. It has two areas and they come with the following options:

  1. Quick Filters (created by me; edited last week; on the current page)
  2. More Filters (in page; created by; created; last edited)

If an organization uses Notion extensively to create documentation and databases, these basic search features won't suffice.

Organizations want to be able to search all of their attachments, and they also want to be able to narrow search results, which is difficult to achieve with Notion. Without a common policy and improved search tools, duplicate documents and pages are a concern.

✶ Learn about: Federated Search and its benefits

Notion Search Not Working? Here's How to Improve It

1. Use a Centralized Search Bar

A centralized search bar where you can conduct your search and apply filters reduces time and allows for easier navigation. While Notion’s search option, Quick Find, is the central search area, it’s not integrated with database search. If you need to search for specific data located in a database or several databases, you will have to navigate to each database to conduct your search manually in page.

You can avoid Notion’s multiple-step search path by using a third-party integration like Unleash to establish a central search hub. You may use the Explore Bar to input a search query to locate information in Notion and other linked applications.

Unleash screenshot 1

If you want to search specifically within Notion, you can locate Notion listed in the apps section of the menu just below the Explore Bar. The search box will provide that app or account results when you select a specific app.

Within the related accounts, you can see the many types of resources accessible for that app and account. In the main search bar for Notion, you can search all your pages, tables, lists, databases, and other documentation.

✶ Still can't find items on Notion? There is an easier way...

2. Create Custom Filters to Speed Up Your Search

The quickest way to find what you are looking for is by creating custom filters. Filters are created in the main search bar using a pathway starting with the name of the app followed by the type of information and action you want to perform. For example, if you want to filter by various accounts and labels, use ;Account Name → ;Assigned To / ;Created By / ;Shared To.

These additional layers of customized filters aid in further narrowing searches by delivering exact results and enhancing the ease and efficacy of your search. When you use filters, your search parameters remain unchanged.

3. Take Advantage of Unleash’s Drag-And-Drop Functionality

Using search to find a document or page to add a file or information is made easier if you can add it simultaneously to the file/document. Every resource in Unleash that has a file or attachment may be “Dragged & Dropped” onto your computer screen or directly into Notion.

You can move a resource by left-clicking on it and dragging it to the desired position without releasing the button. To drop the resource into place, let go of the mouse button.

Unleash screenshot 3

Unleash Takes Your Notion Search From Basic to Holistic

Notion search sucks, but it should not keep your team from using it to create databases and documentation vital to your organization. Using an enterprise search tool like Unleash can reduce your team’s time and effort in searching for information.

With Unleash, you can get precisely what you’re looking for in one search with relevant results in seconds. Download Unleash today to enhance your Notion search and see how it can change your team’s workflow.

✶ Struggling to search all pages on Notion? Get results in seconds with Unleash's AI-Powered Search App for Notion.

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