Note: In the video we call them ‘hierarchical searches’. We’ve since changed the name to ‘Nested search’ but they refer to the same feature.
Hey there 👋,
Today we have a deceptively simple but surprisingly powerful feature that makes Workflowy’s global search even more useful – nested search. That means you can now search for items based on where they’re nested in your Workflowy. This gives you more control over search and lets you create some really useful searches.
The new search operator “>” asks Workflowy to only show items that are located within the items that match the previous search term.
So for example a search of “Vehicles > Honda” would only show items that have “Honda” that are located under a “Vehicles” item. So even if there are other items that have “Honda” but are located under other items that don’t match “Vehicles”, they would be excluded.
How to activate Nested searches
If you are already a Workflowy labs user, the feature should be on by default for you. If you haven’t turned on labs before, please follow these steps.
- Open your Workflowy settings.
- Ensure that ‘Workflowy Labs’ is enabled.
- Scroll down the menu and toggle on ‘Nested search’
Let’s use some examples to make it easier to understand how the feature works and give you some ideas about how you could use it.
Continuing with our explanation, say I use Workflowy to keep a wiki. I have a list of all kinds of vehicles from different brands and years that looks like this:
Now say I wanted to only look at the cars made by Honda in 2023, how would I do that?
With nested search we can ask Workflowy to show us only “2023” items that are also under a “Honda” item with a search of “Honda > 2023“. However this also includes all boats and motorcycles made by Honda in 2023.
We can then refine our search with another > to ask for only the items that are also under a “Car” item using “Cars > Honda > 2023“. And we have the information we were originally looking for.
Let’s do another example.
Say you’re working with other folks inside Workflowy, running a web services agency. That means you’ve got lots of projects going on at once and you’re organizing a bunch of tasks.
Let’s say we use @ to assign tasks so we’ll search for all of Sam’s to-do’s with “@sam” to see their tasks.
As you can see, Sam has a bunch of tasks assigned to different projects.
Now let’s say we only want to see their SEO tasks. We’ll do this using a nested search with the > symbol “SEO > @sam“.
This will ask Workflowy to only show us @sam items that are also children of an SEO item.
Great. But let’s say we only want to see Sam’s high priority projects.
Again, we’ll use another nested search to specify that we only want to see items where the parent has a “#high” tag.
And we’ll do that with the following search “#high > SEO > @sam“.
Nice. And now we only see @sam‘s tasks that are SEO activities that are part of #high priority projects.
Hopefully, these examples give you an idea of how using nested searches with > gives you even more control over your searches and allows you to view your information in more useful ways, no matter where it’s located.
Nested search is still in labs so test it out, let us know what you think, how you plan to use it and anything else you think we should know.
Until the next one, peace out.