Updated: 08/16/2021 by Computer Hope
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Sometimes called seek, a search is a function or process of finding letters, words, files, web pages, or other data. Many operating systems, software programs, and websites contain a search or find feature to locate data. For example, the search box for Computer Hope is at the top and bottom of each of our pages. When on the Internet, you use a search engine to search through web pages on the Internet.


To only search (find) text in the web page or document you are viewing, the Ctrl+F keyboard shortcut (Command+F on Apple computers) can open the Find box. You can then type the text you want to find in the Find box.

What is the difference between search and find?

Generally speaking, when trying to find text in the current document or web page, it's called find. However, if you want to look for text in multiple documents or pages, it is known as a search.

Search or find options contain additional options that make finding information or files easier. We have listed these options below.


Please note that these options may or may not be available for all programs.

  1. When searching for a file in many operating systems, use the wildcards. For example, searching for test.* returns results for any file beginning with "test" in the file name. In our example, the results could include "tested," "tests," and "testing."
  2. Use search grouping. For example, any text in quotes, like "search example" would find anything containing the words "search example" next to each other but not "search" or "example" by themselves. Another example of grouping uses a '+' between the text, like search+example.
  3. In most online searches, you can exclude text from your search by adding the '-' sign before a word. For example, computer help -paid searches for anything containing the words "computer help," but only show results for pages that do not contain the word "paid."

Don't miss our article, tricks every Google user should know.

What is the search symbol?

Web pages and software programs use the symbol of a magnifying glass to represent the search feature. For example, on some web pages, you may find a text box next to a magnifying glass icon to perform a search.


The magnifying glass icon may also be used to represent the find feature.

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