Twitter search operators, for better search results

seewhatshappeningnow
Screenshot of Twitter’s dedicated search page. It looks like ‘operators’ is a link
to another page but it’s just a pop-up and there’s no real useable link there.

Below are Twitter’s search operators. There doesn’t seem to be an actual page I can link to so instead I pinched them from the pop up window that appears when you click operators on Twitter’s dedicated search page (see picture above). Here’s the link for the Advanced Search where you can do even more. I haven’t tried all of them but the one at the end doesn’t seem to be working now.

Edit: Heh, note that WordPress dot com auto converts text smiley faces like : and ) into 🙂 so in the table below please remember that you’d need to write colons and brackets into your search terms. I’ve no idea if this even works though. I think some of these operators might be out of date.

It’s possible Twitter will make me take this down cos I have totally stolen their content (literally in fact, when the popup appeared I used Ctrl+U on Firefox to bring up the ‘page’ sourcecode and then collected the HTML which I pasted into the draft of this post, above. Beyond me why they don’t make it more shareable. Mind you having seen their latest fiddling with replies…

How to use Storify like a pro to collect tweets

This is an overview post, if you’d like something more in-depth I’ve written a longer version on my main blog, here: How to use Storify


 

Storify is a free tool (paid options available) that lets you collect together a whole load of tweets on a topic, or from a person, or a conversation and re-order them so that the oldest tweet appears first. Not just tweets, any ‘atom’ of social media (a blog post, a YouTube video) can be included in the story, and you can insert commentary in between the different items. If you have a Twitter account you can authorise Storify via Twitter, so you don’t need to create a separate account.

Here’s what the top part of the interface looks like, on the left is the editing window and on the right are the options to collect source material. Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 11.43.31 Here’s the options panel enlarged, with the Twitter option selected. There are a number of sub-options within each option. Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 11.48.18

The sub-options are Search (shown, left), User (type any user’s name in to see their tweets, Favorites (type any user’s name in to see their favourites), Timeline (to see the tweets of people you follow) and List (type in the web address of a list to see it [example]).

Another useful option, hidden within the three dots ••• is the Embed URL option which lets you take the address of anything on the web and add that in (including tweets).

You can also connect your Instagram account in order to search other instagrammed pics, but if you don’t want to do that just find the pic’s address on Instagram and use the Embed URL option to put it in the Storify.

Capturing hashtags
A typical use of Storify is to collect all tweets that contain a particular hashtag. To do this you’d just type the hashtag into the Twitter search option as shown above. Once you’ve done this it’ll tell you how many you’ve found and give you the option to ‘add all’ or click and drag the ones you’ve got. I strongly recommend ignoring this and scrolling to the bottom to the ‘find more’ link and doing that a few times then using the add all option to move them into the editing window. Once you’ve moved tweets into the left window if you then do the ‘find more’ there’s a risk you’ll end up with duplicates.

If you wish, click on the Reorder option at the top of the editing window and arrange them so that the earliest tweet is displayed first. Note that if you’ve added any commentary (by clicking in the space between tweets which creates a new text box) then this will be pushed to the bottom, as it was created most recently. I strongly recommend getting all your tweets and other items in the order you want before adding in text comments.

Capturing conversations
You can use Twitter search operators to capture conversations. For example from:adamrutherford to:deepakchopra will bring up one side of a rather entertaining conversation, and you can reverse it to get the other side. You can bring up both at once by typing adamrutherford deepakchopra but note that this will also bring up tweets from other people joining in (which you may want of course).

If there’s a tweet you’re after you can search for it on Twitter and copy its address (URL) from its timestamp, shown below in the link saying Aug 5. Right click, copy address will copy the tweet’s URL. Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 23.25.46 Use the Embed URL tool to search for the tweet via Storify and then drag it into place.

Note: I’ve categorised this post both as notTwitter (cos it’s a different service) and also Twitter (cos it’s mostly used to capture tweets!). I realise this is a bit confusing 😉

How to find text quickly on a web page or in a file

There’s a very useful keyboard shortcut that will let you jump straight to a word or phrase (or any sequence of letters or numbers1) in almost any document or file – it’s Ctrl+F2.

PDFs
If you’ve opened a 200 page PDF and want to find the word WIDGET then use Ctrl+F to bring up a ‘find’ search box and type in the word widget. Pressing ‘enter’ on the keyboard will let you bounce through each of instance of the word in the document. Depending on your set up some PDF readers will also let you see a panel with all instances of WIDGET in it, in the sentence, allowing you to see a bit of context and decide which one to look at first.

Word documents
Ctrl+F again. You can also change all instances of WIDGET into GADGET by using Ctrl+H (Shift + Command + H on a Mac) to bring up the Find & Replace option, type widget in the top box and gadget in the bottom (make a decision on upper or lower case matching) and press replace all to convert all widgets to gadgets. True story, I once did this in a spreadsheet of people’s names and addresses and converted all instances of UK into United Kingdom and then discovered someone’s first name had become LUnited Kingdome instead of Luke. Should have selected just the country column but I could also have avoided that by better case-matching.

Excel spreadsheets
Within the sheet you’re on Ctrl+F will do the job but note the option on the search box (below) that appears which lets you pick whether to search within the current sheet or the whole workbook (ie find your word in a cell in a different tab).

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 23.24.17

Notes
1 you don’t even have to type the full word, just enough letters to pick out the word you want and exclude those you don’t, for example if searching for widget then ‘widge’ would probably do whereas ‘idget’ would also find ‘fidget’.

2 Ctrl+F = holding down the Control key while the letter F is pressed, for Find. On a Mac it’s the Command key instead of Control. You can also access Find in the Edit menu.

Further reading

Searching for words and phrases on Twitter

Hashtags (they look like this: #word or #phrase, eg #Event2015) are the easiest things to search because they form clickable links (click on one and you’ll be taken to the search results page for that tag).

If you’re using a phone or tablet app you’ll probably see all of the hashtagged tweets with the most recent at the top but if you’re viewing on desktop Twitter you’ll probably be shown the Top tweets for that tag first, and you can click ‘Live‘ to see ALL of them.

Screen Shot 2015-07-18 at 00.54.36

To search for anything on a Twitter third party app you’ll likely have either a search box or a magnifying glass symbol which will bring this option up. For really detailed searches I recommend using the desktop Twitter version which has all the bells and whistles.

Basic search is at https://twitter.com/search-home
Advanced search is at https://twitter.com/search-advanced and the list of operators (eg how to modify your search best) are below.

Searching for a tweet sent by someone
Use the from:username format to find all tweets sent by someone about a particular topic. Here are all my tweets mentioning the river Thames: from:jobrodie thames

You can adapt the search string to find tweets sent from:username to:someoneelse keyword to find all tweets sent from one account to another on a particular topic.

Screen Shot 2015-07-18 at 13.13.23

Further reading
Searching for a link (URL, address) on Twitter