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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. Filtering should be always instantaneous.



  • 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.
  • Prefer instant over explicit search.
    • If the search can be performed quickly and with low resource usage, start searching as the user types.
    • If the search requires more resources (such as computationally intensive search, reading lots of data from disk or transferring lots of data over the network), start searching only when the user presses enter or clicks the search button.
    • Do not mix search types.
  • Show hints on how to use the search effectively.
  • Do case insensitive search, unless its important.
  • Do fuzzy search by default, if applicable. That means extend the results by adding a wildcard to the item.
  • 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")

+ Wildcards


  • Make the search result persistent. Users must not need to research after selecting or referencing an item.
  • 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.
  • Show the search pattern at the header of the result list (e.g. "Search results for: <Hello World>")



  • Discriminate instant search from search that needs to be started explicitly by
    • a special decorator of a common icon. Use version a) for the first option, and b) for second one.
    • adding ellipsis to the inline text: 'Search...' instead of 'Search'
  • Search input consists of an icon, a line input to enter the search pattern, and a button to start the search. (VDG made a proposal how it looks nice; Actually, icon is not standard currently but makes sense; Make sure search icon is not mixed-up with zoom!; Omit icon because of lightweight appearance)
  • 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

This page was last edited on 4 August 2016, at 12:09. Content is available under Creative Commons License SA 4.0 unless otherwise noted.