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A search function allows to generate a subset out of a big number of items on ground of a user defined pattern. The function is essential to find matching items in case of a extended list or if the position of target(s) is unknown, as well as when bulk operations should be executed to a subset. A search operation interrupts the 'predefined workflow' and bypass core functions to a user-defined data set.

Supplemental to search is the filter function which rather reduces a given number of items than generating an output.


  • Make the search result persistent. Users must not need to research after selecting or referencing an item.
  • Consider to allow iterative search on result lists.
  • Do not inherit artificial intelligence from users. Search operations have always be clear and comprehensible to users.
  • Follow the guidelines on delayed operations if the search takes longer.
  • Provide paging/scrolling of results.
  • Provide auto complete feature to the input based on previous operations.
  • Start the search process via button or when the user pressed enter.
  • Show the search pattern at the header of the result list (e.g. "Search results for: <Hello World>")
  • Show hints on how to use the search effectively.
  • Do case insensitive search, unless its important.
  • Make the search box large enough to show at least 20 characters (at the moment: KRunner & Kicker = 24, Konqueror = 54, KCM = 33, cf. ).
  • Run a combined AND search when two words have been entered unless the term is quoted (e.g. Hello World vs "Hello World")


  • Search input consists of an icon, a line input to enter the search pattern, and a button to start the search. (VDG could make a proposal how it looks nice)
  • Placement
    • Start search at the upper right area of your dialog (KCM and web style).
    • Start search at the lower left area of your dialog (Kicker and Konqueror style).
    • Show search centered in the upper area of your dialog (Dolphin and KRunner style).
  • To show or not to show:
    • Always show search input. Do not hide the availability from users.
    • Show input control only when users start the search.
    • Hide the control in case the search is not the primary function of the app, but show a small button which indicates clearly the availability of the function.
    • Active the control and focus it on Ctrl+F or when user clicks the icon.
    • Do not use search icon anywhere else.
  • How to present results (Depends on use case?)
    • Highlight search results (KCM mode).
    • Hide non-matching results (Kicker mode).
    • Generate a new list that matches the search pattern (KRunner mode).

Best Practice

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