Search query syntax

This page describes search pattern syntax and keywords available for code search. See the complementary language reference for a visual breakdown. A typical search pattern describes content or filenames to find across all repositories. At the most basic level, a search pattern can simply be a word like hello. See our search patterns documentation for detailed usage. Queries can also include keywords. For example, a typical search query will include a repo: keyword that filters search results for a specific repository. See our keywords documentation for more examples.

Search pattern syntax

This section documents the available search pattern syntax and interpretation in Sourcegraph. A search pattern is required to match file content. A search pattern is optional and may be omitted when searching for commits, filenames, or repository names.

Literal search (default)

Literal search interprets search patterns literally to simplify searching for words or punctuation.

Search pattern syntax Description
foo bar Match the string foo bar. Matching is ordered: match foo followed by bar, with exactly one space between the terms. Matching is case-insensitive (toggle the case button to change).
"foo bar" Match the string "foo bar". The quotes are matched literally.

Click the regular expression toggle to interpret search patterns as regexps. RE2 syntax is supported. In general, special characters may be escaped with \. Here is a list of valid syntax and behavior:

Search pattern syntax Description
foo bar Search for the regexp foo(.*?)bar. Spaces between non-whitespace strings is converted to .*? to create a fuzzy search. Matching is case insensitive (toggle the case button to change).
foo\ bar or
/foo bar/
Search for the regexp foo bar. The \ escapes the space and treats the space as part of the pattern. Using the delimiter syntax / ... / avoids the need for escaping spaces.
foo\nbar Perform a multiline regexp search. \n is interpreted as a newline.
"foo bar" Match the string literal foo bar. Quoting strings when regexp is active means patterns are interpreted literally, except that special characters like " and \ may be escaped, and whitespace escape sequences like \n are interpreted normally.

Click the square brackets toggle to activate structural search. Structural search is a way to match richer syntactic structures like multiline code blocks. See the dedicated usage documentation for more details. Here is a brief overview of valid syntax:

Search pattern syntax Description
New(ctx, ...) Match call-like syntax with an identifier New having two or more arguments, and the first argument matches ctx. Make the search language-aware by adding a lang: keyword.

Keywords (all searches)

The following keywords can be used on all searches (using RE2 syntax any place a regex is accepted):

Keyword Description Examples
repo:[email protected]
repo:regexp-pattern rev:rev
alias: r
Only include results from repositories whose path matches the regexp-pattern. A repository’s path is a string such as or that depends on your organization’s repository host. If the regexp ends in @rev, that revision is searched instead of the default branch (usually master). repo:[email protected] is equivalent to repo:regexp-pattern rev:rev. repo:gorilla/mux testroute
repo:^github\.com/sourcegraph/[email protected] mux
alias: -r
Exclude results from repositories whose path matches the regexp. repo:alice/ -repo:old-repo
alias: revision
Search a revision instead of the default branch. rev: can only be used in conjunction with repo: and may not be used more than once. See our revision syntax documentation to learn more. repo:sourcegraph/sourcegraph rev:v3.14.0 mux
alias: g
Only include results from the named group of repositories (defined by the server admin). Same as using a repo: keyword that matches all of the group’s repositories. Use repo: unless you know that the group exists.
alias: f
Only include results in files whose full path matches the regexp. file:\.js$ httptest
file:internal/ httptest
alias: -f
Exclude results from files whose full path matches the regexp. file:\.js$ -file:test http
content:“pattern” Set the search pattern with a dedicated parameter. Useful when searching literally for a string that may conflict with the search pattern syntax. In between the quotes, the \ character will need to be escaped (\\ to evaluate for \). repo:sourcegraph content:"repo:sourcegraph"
-content:“pattern” Exclude results from files whose content matches the pattern. Not supported for structural search. file:Dockerfile alpine -content:alpine:latest
Shows only query results for a given type. For example, select:repo displays only distinct repository paths from search results, and select:commit.diff.added shows only added code matching the search. See language definition for full list of possible values. fmt.Errorf select:repo
alias: l
Only include results from files in the specified programming language. lang:typescript encoding
alias: -l
Exclude results from files in the specified programming language. -lang:typescript encoding
type:symbol Perform a symbol search. type:symbol path
case:yes Perform a case sensitive query. Without this, everything is matched case insensitively. OPEN_FILE case:yes
fork:yes, fork:only Include results from repository forks or filter results to only repository forks. Results in repository forks are exluded by default. fork:yes repo:sourcegraph
archived:yes, archived:only The yes option, includes archived repositories. The only option, filters results to only archived repositories. Results in archived repositories are excluded by default. repo:sourcegraph/ archived:only
repo:contains.file(…) Conditionally search inside repositories only if they contain a file path matching the regular expression. See built-in predicates for more. repo:contains.file(\.py) file:Dockerfile pip
-repohasfile:regexp-pattern Exclude results from repositories that contain a matching file. This keyword is a pure filter, so it requires at least one other search term in the query. Note: this filter currently only works on text matches and file path matches. -repohasfile:Dockerfile docker
repo:contains.commit.after(…) (Experimental) Filter out stale repositories that don’t contain commits past the specified time frame. repo:contains.commit.after(yesterday)
repo:contains.commit.after(june 25 2017)
file:contains(…) Conditionally search files only if they contain contents that match the provided regex pattern. file:contains(Copyright) Sourcegraph

Retrieve N results. By default, Sourcegraph stops searching early and returns if it finds a full page of results. This is desirable for most interactive searches. To wait for all results, use count:all. count:1000 function
count:all err
Customizes the timeout for searches. The value of the parameter is a string that can be parsed by the Go time package’s ParseDuration (e.g. 10s, 100ms). By default, the timeout is set to 10 seconds, and the search will optimize for returning results as soon as possible. The timeout value cannot be set longer than 1 minute. When provided, the search is given the full timeout to complete. repo:^ timeout:15s func count:10000
patterntype:literal, patterntype:regexp, patterntype:structural Configure your query to be interpreted literally, as a regular expression, or a structural search pattern. Note: this keyword is available as an accessibility option in addition to the visual toggles. test. patternType:literal
(open|close)file patternType:regexp
visibility:any, visibility:public, visibility:private Filter results to only public or private repositories. The default is to include both private and public repositories. type:repo visibility:public

Multiple or combined repo: and file: keywords are intersected. For example, repo:foo repo:bar limits your search to repositories whose path contains both foo and bar (such as To include results from repositories whose path contains either foo or bar, use repo:foo|bar.

Boolean operators

Use boolean operators to create more expressive searches.

Operator Example
and, AND conf.Get( and log15.Error(, conf.Get( and log15.Error( and after

Returns results for files containing matches on the left and right side of the and (set intersection).

Operator Example
or, OR conf.Get( or log15.Error(, conf.Get( or log15.Error( or after

Returns file content matching either on the left or right side, or both (set union). The number of results reports the number of matches of both strings. Note the regex or operator | may not work as expected with certain operators for example file:(internal/repos)|(internal/gitserver), to recieve the expected results use subexpressions, (file:internal/repos or file:internal/gitserver)

Operator Example
not, NOT lang:go not file:main.go panic, panic NOT ever

NOT can be used in place of - to negate keywords, such as file, content, lang, repohasfile, and repo. For search patterns, NOT excludes documents that contain the term after NOT. For readability, you can also include the AND operator before a NOT (i.e. panic NOT ever is equivalent to panic AND NOT ever).

If you want to actually search for reserved keywords like OR in your code use content like this:
content:"query with OR".

Operator precedence and groups

Operators may be combined. and expressions have higher precedence (bind tighter) than or expressions so that a and b or c and d means (a and b) or (c and d).

Expressions may be grouped with parentheses to change the default precedence and meaning. For example: a and (b or c) and d.

Filter scope

When parentheses are absent, we use the convention that operators divide sequences of terms that should be grouped together. That is:

file:main.c char c or (int i and int j) generally means (file:main.c char c) or (int i and int j)

To apply the scope of the file filter to the entire subexpression, fully group the subexpression:

file:main.c (char c or (int i and int j)).

Browse the search subexpressions examples to learn more about use cases.

Keywords (diff and commit searches only)

The following keywords are only used for commit diff and commit message searches, which show changes over time:

Keyword Description Examples
repo:[email protected] Specifies which Git revisions to search for commits. See our repository revisions documentation to learn more about the revision syntax. repo:[email protected]*refs/heads/:^refs/heads/master type:diff task (unmerged commit diffs containing task)
Specifies the type of search. By default, searches are executed on all code at a given point in time (a branch or a commit). Specify the type: if you want to search over changes to code or commit messages instead (diffs or commits). type:diff func
type:commit test
author:name Only include results from diffs or commits authored by the user. Regexps are supported. Note that they match the whole author string of the form Full Name <[email protected]>, so to include only authors from a specific domain, use>$. You can also use author:@SourcegraphUserName to search on a Sourcegraph user’s list of verified emails.

You can also search by committer:git-email. Note: there is a committer only when they are a different user than the author.
type:diff author:nick
-author:name Exclude results from diffs or commits authored by the user. Regexps are supported. Note that they match the whole author string of the form Full Name <[email protected]>, so to exclude authors from a specific domain, use>$. You can also use author:@SourcegraphUserName to search on a Sourcegraph user’s list of verified emails.

You can also search by committer:git-email. Note: there is a committer only when they are a different user than the author.
type:diff author:nick
before:“string specifying time frame” Only include results from diffs or commits which have a commit date before the specified time frame before:"last thursday"
before:"november 1 2019"
after:“string specifying time frame” Only include results from diffs or commits which have a commit date after the specified time frame after:"6 weeks ago"
after:"november 1 2019"
message:“any string” Only include results from diffs or commits which have commit messages containing the string type:commit message:"testing"
type:diff message:"testing"
-message:“any string” Exclude results from diffs or commits which have commit messages containing the string type:commit message:"testing"
type:diff message:"testing"

Repository revisions

To search revisions other than the default branch, specify the revisions by either appending them to the repo: filter or by listing them separately with the rev: filter. This means:[email protected]<revisions>

is equivalent to rev:<revisions>.

The <revisions> part refers to repository revisions (branches, commit hashes, and tags) and may take on the following forms:

(All examples apply to @ as well as rev:)

  • @branch - a branch name
  • @1735d48 - a commit hash
  • @3.15 - a tag

You can separate revisions by a colon to search multiple revisions at the same time, @branch:1735d48:3.15.

Per default, we match revisions to tags, branches, and commits. You can limit the search to branches or tags by adding the prefix refs/tags or refs/heads. For example @refs/tags/3.18 will search the commit tagged with 3.18, but not a branch called 3.18 and vice versa for @refs/heads/3.18.

Glob patterns allow you to search over a range of branches or tags. Prepend * to mark a revision as glob pattern and add the glob-pattern after it like this repo:<repo>@*<glob-pattern>. For example:

We automatically add a trailing /* if it is missing from the glob pattern.

You can negate a glob pattern by prepending *!, for example:

Repository names

A query with only repo: filters returns a list of repositories with matching names.

Example: repo:docker repo:registry matches repositories with names that contain both docker and registry substrings.

Example: repo:docker OR repo:registry matches repositories with names that contain either docker or registry substrings.

Commit and Diff searches

Commit and diff searches act on sets of commits. A set is defined by a revision (branch, commit hash, or tag), and it contains all commits reachable from that revision. A commit is reachable from another commit if it can be reached by following the pointers to parent commits.

For commit and diff searches it is possible to exclude a set of commits by prepending a caret ^. The caret acts as a set difference. For example,[email protected]:^3.15 type:commit will show all commits in main minus the commits reachable from the commit tagged with 3.15.

A query with type:path restricts terms to matching filenames only (not file contents).

Example: type:path repo:/docker/ registry

A query with type:file restricts terms to matching file contents only (not filenames).

Example: type:file repo:^github\.com/sourcegraph/about$ website