10 Key Ways to Use the FileMaker Find Mode

Having the ability to search and find information in your database can reap huge rewards. Unfortunately, not every application is the same, and each has its own unique way of searching. FileMaker is no exception. The FileMaker Find Mode has many powerful ways to help you get more out of the tool. Below, we’ve compiled a list that every FileMaker user (especially users who manage their data heavily) should know to better leverage its capabilities.

One final note is that you may not see each of these functions in your FileMaker application. That is okay. Your FileMaker application isn’t broken. It’s probably been disabled inside your application by design. Reach out to your internal resource to discuss getting this changed, or contact us if you need help improving your FileMaker solution to better fit your needs.

The most basic function is doing a search within a single field. Use Ctrl + F (for Windows) or ⌘F (for Mac). If I search for all teams in the AFC Conference:

Find Mode and doing a search within a single field

My results include the 16/32 teams that are in the conference:

Results after searching for 'AFC' in the Conference field

When you want to narrow your search more, you can add criteria to more fields. This creates the need for everything to be true for a record to appear in the results.

For example, if I search for teams that are in the AFC conference AND have a name that starts with “c”:

Multiple find by searching based on the Conference and Name fields

My results include the 3/32 teams that meet both criteria:

Search results based on the Conference and Name fields

3. Wildcard Characters

For example, let’s say that I’m new to football and see someone with a jersey, but all I can see is “ear,” and I want to find what team it was, using my made-up FileMaker table. I can do this by including an asterisk before or after the string of text:

Performing a wildcard search in the Name field by entering *ear*

Therefore, when I search for “*ear*” it returns to the Chicago Bears:

Search results based on the wildcard search returns the Chicago Bears

If you are looking up a customer, an asset, or a job, using the asterisk will most likely help you find what you are searching for, even if you aren’t 100% of the full spelling.

4. Omit

Omit is defined as “to leave out or leave unmentioned.” When performing an omit, it’s essentially the opposite of “find.” You’d use this option when you want to exclude records that you know are not a part of your results. Sometimes, it’s easier to describe what you don’t want instead of what you do want.

For example, you may know that your records are not in a certain status, such as complete or inactive. Additionally, if you perform a find and end up with some record(s) that you want to exclude, you can omit them to narrow the results. 

Omitting can be done in two ways:

  • ⌘T (for Mac) while on a record to drop that record from the found set
  • On your Find Mode request, set the Omit option

For example, if I omit the football teams that are based out of Los Angeles:

Picture of Find Mode with the 'Omit' option highlighted

My results are 30/32 teams that are not based in that city:

Search results omitting teams based in Los Angeles

5. Multiple Requests

This cool feature allows you to run several different searches all at the same time.

Use this method if you’re looking within the same field but for different results. For example, you may want to search for all jobs that are in a planning OR a waiting approval status.

To do this, while in FileMaker Find Mode, put your first search term in the empty request, then make a SECOND request to hold your second search term. To make that second request, select Ctrl + N (for Windows) or ⌘N (for Mac). Then, execute the find. Both requests will run, and you’ll get results that match on either one or the other.

For example, if I search for teams where the division = “NFC North” OR City = “New York”:

Showing Find Mode and performing multiple search requests

My results include the 6/32, where four teams are in the NFC North, and two teams are in New York:

Search results after performing the Find with multiple requests

6. Modify Last Find

This is a great shortcut if you are running multiple requests or a multi-field search. After running your first Find, use Ctrl + R (for Windows) or ⌘R (for Mac) to go back into “Find Mode” with the last search performed already in the request fields. This can save you a lot of time when performing several similar searches back-to-back.

7. Date Ranges

Finding records based on a date range is super easy in FileMaker. Inside any date field in FileMaker’s “Find Mode,” you can add three dots between two dates, and it will return results within those dates.

For example, I could search for all NFL games that are to be played in the month of August. I’d do this by writing “8/1/2023…8/31/2023” in the GameDate field in my Find request:

Performing a Find by entering a date range

My results include 8/16, where eight of the 16 games are in August in my example:

Search results based on the date range entered into the Game Date field

8. Duplicate Values

This is another special search character, “!”, that allows you to search within a field and find all results that have a duplicate value across all the records.

For example, you may want to search for all of the customers who have the same address. Maybe you have duplicate records that need clean-up. Or maybe you want to search for all equipment that has the same name. All you need is to use an exclamation point in the search field on your Find request.

In the example below, I’m searching for all records with duplicate cities:

Doing a Find looking for duplicate cities by entering an exclamation point into the City field

 My results include the two cities with multiple teams in the NFL:

Search results showing results for the duplicate city search

9. Saved Finds

Saved finds not only allow you to have your own unique finds that you can quickly reuse, but you can also find your recent finds there as well. In addition, you can save your current find or edit your old finds. This is a slick feature for data-needy users!

Saved Finds button with contextual menu displayed

10. Extend and Constrain

This will run your second search, but only within the results of your first search, narrowing down to the results that also match your second.

Extend is just the opposite of Constrain. If you see the results of a find and they don’t include your expected records, you can go back into Find mode, put in additional criteria, and use the Requests menu to choose “Extend Found Set.”

Requests dropdown menu with 'Extend Found Set' selected

This will run your second search, ADDING the results to those of your first search. This is similar to doing a multiple-find request search but doesn’t require you to start from scratch.

BONUS TIP – Quick Find

Now, this isn’t exactly utilizing FileMaker’s “Find Mode,” but it is definitely going to help you find the records you need even faster. The Quick Find search bar is found at the top right of the FileMaker application.

What is unique about this search capability is that whatever you search for, FileMaker will search all fields in that layout and give you the results of every record with the string of characters, numbers, etc. in them. Whereas in the traditional “Find Mode,” you’ll need to search within the exact field the data you want is in. Depending on your familiarity with the structure of the data, this might prove difficult.

For example, I’ve created a table with all 32 NFL teams. When I search “pa” on the Team table, I get three results: Patriots, Panthers, and Packers. Now, what’s interesting about this search is that the “pa” was part of each record’s name. If there was a team that was based out of Pasadena or Palm City, then that team would have been included in the results as well, even if their names didn’t include “pa” in them.

Photo showing the Quick Search bar with 'pa' entered as the search criteria

One thing that is critically important about this feature is that developers determine at a granular level which fields are searchable by this global search function. See the example below. Any fields without this include for Quick Find option enabled will not be searched by your Quick Finds.

Field behavior with 'Include field for Quick Find' option checked

Customizing Your FileMaker Application

At Soliant, our FileMaker team helps users leverage tips and tools like these ten tips to achieve their business goals with their application. We also build custom functionality for companies looking to take their FileMaker application further.

A well-built FileMaker solution connects disparate teams, streamlines workflows, and leverages critical data to spark growth. Working with an experienced partner like us gives you an even bigger advantage. Our deep bench of FileMaker experts can help you develop robust, scalable applications that transform your business. Contact our team to learn more.

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