Hidden Search Operators

Want to search through your WorkFlowy account like a pirate ninja? There are a number of “secret” search operators that you can use to get a lot more power out of the search feature.

These operators are unofficial features because we plan to add nice interfaces for (most of) them, but for now you power users (you know who you are) will find these useful.

So, without further ado, here they are. Note that we just added a couple of these, so don’t feel too bad if you don’t know about all of them already.

– (NOT)

Add a “-” before a search term if you’d like to exclude items that contain that term.

For example, if you’re using the tags @jesse and #current to assign items to Jesse and mark what he’s currently working on, you can search for “@jesse -#current” to find all the items that Jesse is assigned to that he’s NOT currently working on.

If you search for just negated terms, we’ll filter your current view, removing all items containing those terms. So if you’re looking at a list of tasks that are assigned to @jesse and @mike, you can search for “-@jesse” to show just the ones assigned to @mike.


Add an all-caps “OR” between search terms to search for items that contain either of those terms.

For example, search for “@jesse OR @mike” to show all items assigned to either Jesse or Mike.

“quoted string”

Use double-quotes to find items that contain the exact string between the quotes.

This lets you search for multiple words in sequence (e.g., “”the quick brown fox”“) or search for part of a word or number (e.g., search for “”203”” to find an item containing “123203456”).


We support a GMail-style “is:” operator to search for items that match the category specified. We support three categories right now: “complete”, “shared”, and “embedded”.

For example, you can use the “is:complete” operator to search for completed items. (Note that you’ll need to toggle completed items to be visible to have them show up.) “is:shared” will search for items you’ve shared, and “is:embedded” will search for items you’ve embedded in your account that others have shared.


We remember when each item was last changed. You can see this date by hovering the mouse cursor over an item’s bullet for a second or two.

You can search for items last changed within a time period with the “last-changed:” operator.

For example, search for “last-changed:1d” to search for items changed within the last day. Search for “last-changed:4h” to search for items changed within the last 4 hours. (Days and hours are the time units we support right now.)

One more thing:

You can combine all of these operators in combination with each other. So, for example, you can search for completed items assigned to Jesse that were changed in the last week by searching for “is:complete @jesse last-changed:7d”.

Hope you find these useful.

36 thoughts on “Hidden Search Operators

  1. I find those very useful. “@jesse -#important” works, but “#ThisWeek -#important” does not… would be good to have as well. Anyways, you guys made my day already.

  2. about search capabilities of workflowy…. sometimes I cant find the words I am looking for via search tool… you might check in my account: for example when I search aktivist, the word “direnaktivist” doesnt appear; but when I search diren “direnaktivist” appears… is this normal or is there a bug? (p.s. I couldnt find an email to report this, thus I am using comments, you do not need to publish this, just wanted to let you know about this problem)

  3. Wow, that’s absolutely fantastic!

    It would be even better to have the possibility to do something like “-#” to select all items that haven’t been tagged yet

  4. I would like the ability to be able to include some kind of command to force the search from the top level. For example, I have a document that has filters in it, but these filters only apply to the current level and nested levels from that point. It would be nice if there was some tag or command in the filter that would tell it to search all of workflowy without having to go to the top level to perform the search.

  5. For last-changed, is “last-day:1d” the prior 24 hours? Or the prior calendar day?

      1. Thanks for the clarification. If you’re taking feature requests, I’d love to be able to do calendar day as well sometime.

  6. Could you please also implement “completed:1d”?
    I sometimes move completed notes or remove tags to clean up both of which changes the last-changed date but leaves the completed date untouched (but I can’t query that currently).

    Would also be great to have statistics (measure then improve) that tells you how many new items were created, how many old ones were closed and how many of the newly created items were closed on the same day.

    Might require an operator to query items based on the time they exist already.

  7. Volker, it appears that “completed:1d” has been implemented in the search. Like last-changed, it appears to accept 12h and 14d type inputs, for items completed within that number of hours and days respectively.

    At least two operators have been added since this post in 2012:


    Roger, this is quite a search string but try this:

    -completed:48d completed:50d

    Tweaking the number of days as needed. If it’s Oct. 23 then 48 days ago was Sep. 5 and 50 days ago was Sep. 3, it should find only completed items that were completed in that range.

    Similar searches can be used for last-changed to isolate windows of time for all items, not just completed ones.

    1. This article is at the top of the Google Search Results for Workflowy Search. PLEASE update the article itself, AT THE VERY LEAST with a link to where the definitive source can be found. THANKS.

  8. Is there a way to use an “AND” Boolean search operator in addition to the “OR” operator? For example, if I wanted to show items tagged to a timeframe and a context, such as “#week AND #calls” to show all calls I need to make this week. Or, as another example “#week AND “#projects” to show only task items associated with projects planned for this week.

    1. This is the default behavior, if you just have a space between two search terms. However, they have to appear in the same item. It won’t find say, anything inside #projects that has the tag #week.

  9. A colour on the bullet point to notify changements done by collaborators could be a quicker way to identify modifued lists, you an put on the bullet point menu “restore” or something like that to put the basic color back once verification donne

  10. Any other hidden goodies beyond this list and those updates mentioned in the comments?
    I found a hidden dynamic within lists: creating a “#date” tag, followed by a space, inputs the date. Anything for date and time? Any other hidden tag dynamics?

    1. Never mind… PhraseExpress was working in the background for the time input thing.

    1. Hi! Your sample outline is not big enough to put this to the test. For example, one cannot filter out a zoomed-in list title… since it’s the list title. So if you exclude @Заметки from your search by using “-@Заметки”, in this case it will not be excluded. Also, you have not included @1-0 in any children lists within the sample public list posted. Expand on that outline and I’ll be happy to take a look for you 🙂

      1. Hi Askryukovskiy,
        You are right, your tag should be filtered out. You might want to try emailing help@workflowy.com
        In the meantime, have you tried filtering like so: -“@Заметки” (using quotes). Is this happening only on your Android or also on desktop?

  11. It would be really helpful to have a shortcut to at least the OR and NOT operators.

    I’m all the time wanting to filter and find entries using one or two tags using an OR. This requires clicking on the first tag, then moving my cursor to the search bar (it isn’t automatically already there), moving my hand from the mouse to the keyboard, typing OR (with the caps key), moving my hand back to the mouse and clicking the 2nd tag.

    It would be much easier if I could just click the first, then something like “control click” for the 2nd, to automatically add an OR between the two.

  12. Lovely! Very useful post and features.

    Next on my wishlist would be to see is:leaf or has:children or similar. (Use case: show me all the items without children that don’t have tag X on them) [is:leaf -#next]

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