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Allow searches of special characters and stop words


Bobokie9999

Idea

I am not happy with search.  It is a very powerful tool but loses a lot when the following are treated equally.

 

☑test ... same results as test or ... #test.....

 

I've found this to be true on the following platforms: desktop, web, iPad.

 

This is true of almost all extended characters or punctuation.  I use tags extensively but there are times I want to tag an item without using a tag (I don't want 1000's of tags to organize or sort).  I tried using various characters but Evernote search ignores them.  So I cannot set up some special collection like ☑photography.  I can do this in OneNote.  In Evernote, if I search on ☑photography, I get everything with photography versus a few that I want to see.

 

Yes, I could use tags but I already have a tag system set up to leverage GTD and some general reference categories.  I effectively am looking for a separate sub-tag or category system.  This will keep me from being overwhelmed in tags.

 

The more I use Evernote the more I find this a major problem.  Nothing is more frustrating than trying to find something in thousands of notes that you know is there, but you have to look at 100's instead of maybe 10 or 12.

 

Any suggestions?  Is there a list of special characters I could use (I only need maybe 3-6)? Is this something that is planned to be changed in future releases?

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Thank you csihilling --

 

This lead me to
http://discussion.ev...9921#entry59921

 

from EngBerg (Evernote Employee)

This is actually intentional. We treat a "word" as any contiguous sequence of:
* letters (as defined by Unicode)
* numbers
* the underscore character

This allows you to use the underscore to make special "magic keywords" like "_foo" that you may want to search for again later.

 

-----------------------------------------------------

 

I assume that means literally letters -- all the special characters I've tried are from unicode.  I haven't tried any "non-english" letters -- hopefully I might be able to make a workaround that way.  Using only underscore won't work for me (I need a few more characters).  I have already created some special searches like "name_vacation_PTO_2015" for tracking vacations.

 

And SUCCESS!!!!  Evernote does recognize accented letters like ü, é, etc.  Since I'm not writing in any of those languages I'll be able to create the searches I wanted.  I still wish EN would go back to recognizing more of utf-8 characters.  I like using ♦ instead of ü.  ☺

 

 

Thank you Metrodon and csihilling, your responses they helped me solve my problem.  Now I have one less reason to look at changing over to OneNote.

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Evernote needs to reconsider this extreme deviation from "search" and "find" (cmd-F) on the Mac.  Uniformity of tools common to many apps is essential to improve learning curves, not to mention software capability.  Search and Find need to recognize every printable character, though it would be acceptable, from my point of view, to reserve a few for special Evernote functionality.  I want to be able to search for an entire phrase.  I want to search for strings that include almost any special character.

That said, I love the search options that limit the range and substance of searches.  But please, Evernote, (perhaps with EngBerg as ambassador), "Intentional" does not mean "right".

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Search is why we use Evernote. Evernote only becomes valuable once you have collected enough notes to need searching. The lack of differentiation of upper and lower case, and simple special characters such as @, #, %, &, and * is a serious limitation. Please, please consider correcting this. 

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I agree guymanstuff, I have faith they will fix this. Heck, all you have to do is go out and buy a search engine package, or license it. They raised our annual fee enough to do that. They sell themselves on being a place to store all you stuff and yet fail on retrieval. I still embed special characters in my text in hopes that someday I can search on them like tags. But still I want to be able to write without having to make up underscore phrases. Tell me, how can I look up the day I installed the AC's last year? "AC" and "ac" is everywhere. But "AC's" is unique. 

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If a search contains stop words that will be ignored, flag this fact to the user instead of returning incorrect results.

For example, if a user searches for "intitle:to" in either the Mac or Web interface, the criteria will be dropped, and all the users notes will be shown.   Which is incredibly confusing, as many of the user's notes do NOT have the word "to" in their title.

What should (IMO) happen, is the interface should say something akin to "to is a stop word and may not be used in an intitle search".

The thread where I asked my original question is here: 

 

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On 2016-12-02 at 3:04 PM, geoff2k said:

If a search contains stop words that will be ignored, flag this fact to the user instead of returning incorrect results.

My request would have been for Evernote to stop monkeying around with search terms

If I search for "to $29.34 **?" This is exactly what should be searched 

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38 minutes ago, DTLow said:

My request would have been for Evernote to stop monkeying around with search terms

If I search for "to $29.34 **?" This is exactly what should be searched 

The tradeoff is local index size for searching for all the terms that people are unlikely to search for vs. accuracy of searching.  Personally, I don't have a problem with the user of stop words to reduce index size, but I do have a problem with the query engine dropping criteria without telling me about it.

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At least I understand now what is happening... I am trying to set up a simple followup system to be used while taking meeting notes:

@@ is create an action

## is a delegated action

etc...

I leverage search heavily in Outlook rather than using a folder structure.  That same search capability is what makes me use Evernote over something like OneNote (which is integrated heavily into my Office 365).  Not recognizing special characters in search is a massive limitation.  I have to imagine that the EN team has done this intentionally, although I can hope that they will change their minds.

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Currently it is not possible to search for special characters like (pretty much any symbol other than the underscore)

I have used special characters like $, %, ^, &, *, @, and # as part of my tag system and would like to be able to search for them.

This came to my attention when I found that I can not search for all of my notes dealing with the programming language C#

(I got back every file that had the letter "C" in it)

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21 hours ago, malcolm.b.anderson said:

Currently it is not possible to search for special characters like (pretty much any symbol other than the underscore)

I have used special characters like $, %, ^, &, *, @, and # as part of my tag system and would like to be able to search for them.

This came to my attention when I found that I can not search for all of my notes dealing with the programming language C#

(I got back every file that had the letter "C" in it)

EN will support tag searches with special characters, though all searches are from the beginning of the tag name.  EN won't search the body of a note for special characters.  The tag C# would be found in the tag drop down, but C# would not be found with a text search,.

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See the discussion here. There should be a syntax to search for words that contain the hash symbol. Preferably "#example" would find all instances of #example and not just example.

For example, I use notes for Microsoft's M Language, which has several functions like #date(), #datetime(), #infinity, etc. I cannot search for those it seems. No matter what I do, I get date, datetime, infinity with or without the # symbol.

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15 hours ago, iShiBin said:

The underscore is not supported 100%. If you do a search in your notes with title including "_", you will see not all notes show up. :(

Works for me.  Works with or without the intitle:.  Be sure the _ is by itself if all you want to find is the _.  Otherwise you need to include some of the other text.  Windows anyway.

ScreenClip.png.2b77874e2fa153686ad3b4aa9a6a8a74.png

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13 minutes ago, iShiBin said:

I could get result with _ in the title but not all. That's why it fails. Try to create some new notes with _ in the title, and then you may see it.

Can you give specific fail examples.  All my tests were successful

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4 hours ago, DTLow said:

From my Mac

I am sorry but you misunderstand it. I mean to search using "intitle:_" and you won't get the notes with a title like "some_thing". 

In addition, I tried using intitle:"_thing" but it failed again. I guess the only way to make it work is to have a space before and after _

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53 minutes ago, csihilling said:

EN only searches from the beginning of the word.  A search for some_ should work.  

No, it won't when it is in the title. Even, I tried to quote it using intitle:“some_” but failed.

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For whatever reason intitle searches for specific matches.  A search for intitle:some_* will find all notes containing some_ in titles. 

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5 minutes ago, csihilling said:

For whatever reason intitle searches for specific matches.  A search for intitle:some_* will find all notes containing some_ in titles. 

You're right. It works. Thanks!

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Fully agree with you. I would even go a step further: This shouldn't be limited to just the hash symbol. It should be possible to escape all (or most) special characters so that they can be included in searches. I keep many technical articles in Evernote including a lot about programming. Only supporting standard alphanumeric caracters in searches limits the search functionality and makes it even worthless for some searches. 

 

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It is currently impossible to do any of the following searches in Evernote:

1) Searching for ~06 brings up results that include every occurrence of -06 (with a hyphen instead of a tilde) 

2) Searching for 06: or "06:" (with quotes around it to specify the exact phrase, including the colon) brings up every occurrence of 06 (without the colon)

3) Searching for "whatever phrase in quotes" (with quotes around it to specify the exact phrase), brings up every occurrence of each separate word

 

This makes it impossible to...

- Search for a date or times (2018-07-07 or 06:30) within the text of notes in Evernote

- Search for any specific phrase in Evernote

 

Apparently Evernote is deliberately designed to ignore any and all punctuation and special characters in searches — which for my usage makes the search 99% useless.

What on Earth is the reason for this crippling of common search functionality?

How can we get this fixed?

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Hi.  The search grammar pages lay out how search works,  and what characters are indexed.  "~" and ":" are not included,  hence the confusion.  In Windows the phrase search does work as you'd expect.  If that's not the case for you it would be worth contacting Support on https://help.evernote.com/hc/requests/new, or https://twitter.com/evernotehelps if that link won't work for you.

I find the search feature to be quite effective,  but with any large database there's a degree of curation required - if I have trouble finding a note,  or a series of notes,  I'll normally alter the tags or titles of those notes,  or create a ToC note with additional keywords so I can find things later.

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9 hours ago, 100WattWalrus said:

It is currently impossible to do any of the following searches in Evernote:

Personally, I rely on Tag/Keyword searches more than freeform text searches, but it does provide a fallback when I've misplaced a note.

>>3) Searching for "whatever phrase in quotes" (with quotes around it to specify the exact phrase), brings up every occurrence of each separate word

Can you provide more details, or examples.  Its working for me

>>This makes it impossible to...  - Search for a date or times (2018-07-07 or 06:30) within the text of notes in Evernote

I'd still search for 2018-07-07 or 06:30
You will get false hits like 2018/07/07 ... but they can be weeded out.

There are other design deficiencies in the search feature, including stop words and lack of regular expressions and full Boolean.
I'd like to see an overhaul of the search feature.

I moved your request from the Mac forum to the General Feature Request forum.

 

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313386652_ScreenShot2018-07-18at16_20_47.png.0347b25b97bdd89dd62d322e0639fbd3.pngA followup for Mac users

Our notes are indexed for Spotlight Search
which supports features like special characters and boolean arguments

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On 7/8/2018 at 1:04 AM, 100WattWalrus said:

Search for a date or times (2018-07-07 or 06:30) within the text of notes in Evernote

A search for "2018-07-07" will return all instances where 2018 and 07 and 07 are separated by a special character or space since special characters basically become spaces in search.  The one special character that is searchable is the underscore, so if you format your dates as 2018_07_07 you will get the match.

This kind of is what it is in EN today, with no mention from the company of making any change to the capability.

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17 minutes ago, CalS said:

This kind of is what it is in EN today, with no mention from the company of making any change to the capability.

My impression is that changes to the search language affect everything from the servers on down to the individual clients, so they don't do it that often, or lightly. If I recall correctly, the last change that they made was to add reminder-based search terms, so an age ago...

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On 7/20/2018 at 5:37 AM, CalS said:

A search for "2018-07-07" will return all instances where 2018 and 07 and 07 are separated by a special character or space since special characters basically become spaces in search.  The one special character that is searchable is the underscore, so if you format your dates as 2018_07_07 you will get the match.

This kind of is what it is in EN today, with no mention from the company of making any change to the capability.

The upshot of which is that putting quotes around your search doesn't do what it should do: Search for EXACTLY what's inside the quotes. I don't put quotes around a search to get something kind of like what I'm searching for, but with maybe some different characters. I put quotes around a search because I want exactly that result and only that result. That's the way quoted searches are supposed to work. And as I said, the way Evernote does it literally makes it impossible to search for dates or times in Evernote.

Just sayin'.

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Searching for "?" won't get anything either,  because Evernote doesn't index images without text.  I've moved to using 'semi-international' date/ time formatting,  as in 20180802 1313 (YYYYMMDD HHMM) because that's easy to generate with a text expander and infinitely searchable down to the time within Evernote using variations on 2018* or 201808*.

You should be able to do something similar with your date format - just search for "2018" to find all the posts containing that year.  Apply a temporary tag,  and then search for that tag and "07" to find the month (and the 7th of that month).  Selectively tag the hits that are correct for the month.  Thereafter two tags "2018" and "07" or "July" would refine your search.  Sounds a lot when explained,  but a couple of saved searches and a few tags would do the job...

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7 hours ago, 100WattWalrus said:

The upshot of which is that putting quotes around your search doesn't do what it should do: Search for EXACTLY what's inside the quotes. I don't put quotes around a search to get something kind of like what I'm searching for, but with maybe some different characters. I put quotes around a search because I want exactly that result and only that result. That's the way quoted searches are supposed to work. And as I said, the way Evernote does it literally makes it impossible to search for dates or times in Evernote.

Just sayin'.

Hey now, don't shoot the messenger.  The search does what is should do based upon EN's implementation of searching for special characters, or should I say special character, the underscore.  Would it be better if all special characters were indexed, sure, but not how they decided to do it.  In the meantime, per @gazumped, there are workarounds. 

I find it less an issue with dates and more an issue with version numbers (mainly since the odds of me remembering a specific date are long).  So I have learned to use the underscore when I note something about a version of anything, 6_13_14 for example in a search will return the exact phrase.  Same could be done with dates I suppose, in any format.

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Hi there,

We have 1000's of saved notes and we used to search those notes very frequently. We normally don't use 1 word search. We will search with word sequence like this "in that case". So I cannot use the only word case here because it will show up 100's of results and i have to go through them one by one. However, if I only have 2-3 notes with this word sequence "in that case". So i tried using this sequence and evernote only filtered notes with word "case" ignoring "in that" so I contacted support team and this is what they told me :

 

Quote

I can confirm that you're using the word "in" which is a stop word in searching. Stop words are ignored in searching, and these words may also affect the next words that you are trying to search when using quotation marks.

These are the list of Evernote's stop words: "a", "an", "and", "are", "as", "at", "be", "but", "by”, "for", "if", "in", "into", "is", "it", "no", "not", "of", "on", "or", "such", "that", "the", "their", "then", "there", "these", "they", "this", "to", "was", "will", "with"

 

This is a real inconvenience guys. Especially when we have to search for a specific word sequence. Can you please implement a feature where we can at least "disable" the use of these so called stop word?

 

Thanks

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This idea I would rather call something like „Power search“, which should include the option to switch „hidden“ search logic off by a „switch“. This would leave the brute search in the hands of a plain Boolean search logic build by the user.

Now I am not up to the details how the index EN builds is constructed. The search is so fast that I assume that some logic is probably build into building the index beforehand. This means the stop word logic might not be applied when searching, but when building the index. A power search would then be difficult to implement, or slow the search down.

Maybe one of the more experienced users knows more about this.

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13 hours ago, sam20e said:

in that case they should improve their search engine speed.. limiting these search words not a ideal solution. its making our life more difficult to be honest. 

So how do they do that? Press the Turbo button? Turn it to 11?

I mean, I understand what you're asking for, and why it's useful, but "improve their search engine speed" is one of those things that's easy to propose, but not necessarily easy to do.

Some of the more technical commentary from Evernote employee @rezecib here: https://discussion.evernote.com/topic/110018-why-oh-why-is-there-no-literal-search-in-evernote/#comment-504507 and here: https://discussion.evernote.com/topic/94874-searching-for-exact-phrase-general/?tab=comments#comment-504506

 

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4 hours ago, jefito said:

So how do they do that? Press the Turbo button? Turn it to 11?

I mean, I understand what you're asking for, and why it's useful, but "improve their search engine speed" is one of those things that's easy to propose, but not necessarily easy to do.

Some of the more technical commentary from Evernote employee @rezecib here: https://discussion.evernote.com/topic/110018-why-oh-why-is-there-no-literal-search-in-evernote/#comment-504507 and here: https://discussion.evernote.com/topic/94874-searching-for-exact-phrase-general/?tab=comments#comment-504506

 

@jefito thanks for those links. interesting topic. 

> So how do they do that? Press the Turbo button? Turn it to 11?

I dont know. I'm not a developer.  When we have 1000's of notes, we should be able to filter any word sequence we need.  example - gmail search. Most of my searches are exact. So how do we deal with it? and the proposed new feature request "Filter search results by exact phrase matches in the text, including stop words" is not yet up I guess? 

 

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@sam20e: last night, I think, you posted elsewhere in the forums about inconsistent search results with seemingly identical search filters in the Windows Evernote application. That post, and my reply, seems to have disappeared; I'm looking into having them restored. In any case, I looked into it, and am guessing that the problem you are seeing is based on using opening/closing double quotes (the curly ones) rather than the 'straight' double quotes around your search filter. E.g.: “in that case” vs. "in that case". Evernote for Windows doesn't handle these the same (though it probably should), and based on the search information in your screen caps, using curly double quotes matched your first search, and using straight double quotes matched your second result. Short form: you should use only straight double quotes in your searches.

BTW, searching for "in that case" (straight double quotes) did indeed find instances of "in that case" in my notes. I.e., the stop werds were not ignored. Indeed, a search on "in that" (both stop words) worked as well.

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Hi @jefito

Thank you for the clarification. However like u said searching for "in that case" (straight double quotes) did find those instances.. technically it should ignore those stop words and only display instances of "case". Am I right?

In that case stop word functionality is broken.

I will open a bug case reg curly quotes.

 

Thank you for helping out. You should become a staff member lol. They couldn't figure this out - no disrespect or anything like that. I do appreciate the solid product.

 

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57 minutes ago, sam20e said:

Thank you for the clarification. However like u said searching for "in that case" (straight double quotes) did find those instances..

You're welcome. But isn't that the behavior that you want? To be able to find a specific sequence of words, which may include stop words?

57 minutes ago, sam20e said:

technically it should ignore those stop words and only display instances of "case". Am I right?

I don't know what the intended behavior is supposed to be.

59 minutes ago, sam20e said:

You should become a staff member lol. They couldn't figure this out - no disrespect or anything like that.

I have a lot of respect for what support people do -- I work with them daily in my job as a software developer -- but I'm not really well suited to the hob, and it's not something I'd enjoy. Plus I'm guessing that the pay would be less. I do think working on the Evernote application would be interesting, though, but I already like what I do.

That being said, I only guessed this because the post of yours that has seemingly disappeared had screen caps that showed the search filters in the Windows application, and the quotes looked a little funny, though the image resolution wasn't conclusive. But someone else had a similar issue recently in the forums, and that jogged my memory so I tried it out on my machine and the results matched yours. Without those screen caps, I would probably never have guessed.

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2 hours ago, sam20e said:

hi @jefito yes that's correct. This is what i wanted. I opened 2 threads by mistake and i think i deleted that thread accidentally.. is it possible for them to restore that forum thread?

I've put in a request to the forum admin, he may be able to do it.

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I am surprised this hasn’t gotten more support... I have been a long term Evernote user, but never a tagger, and recently started using symbols at the beginning of note titles as a way of quickly tagging (and sorting them from list view).... but no way to search for notes with the symbol in the title?!?  Bummer... since apparently there doesn’t seem to be any traction to fix this.

 

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I've noticed that when using EN Search on Win10 PC, I cannot find notes when the search involves only special characters (except maybe underscore). I'm using the latest EN version for Win10. I don't have this problem on my Android phone (as long as I don't use the "intitle" function). From looking at Forum comments, I think the EN Developers are aware of this limitation. Are there any plans to fix this limitation? This would be especially useful if at least allowed with the "intitle" search function. It would be greatly appreciated if this could be addressed in a future update.

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33 minutes ago, mlseamanx said:

Are there any plans to fix this limitation?

To date, I've seen no indication Evernote plans to include special characters in the search indexing.

>>I don't have this problem on my Android phone (as long as I don't use the "intitle" function). 

Oops, that's an indication

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1 hour ago, mlseamanx said:

From looking at Forum comments, I think the EN Developers are aware of this limitation.

I'm sure they are (and btw, which comments?): the search language is designed to work this way. From the search grammar reference (https://dev.evernote.com/doc/articles/search_grammar.php); the relevant section is:

Quote
Matching literal terms

If no advanced search modifier is found in a search term, it will be matched against the note as a text content search. Words or quoted phrases must exactly match a word or phrase in the note contents, note title, tag name, or recognition index. Words in the content of the note are split by whitespace or punctuation. Words may end in a wildcard to match the start of a word. Searches are not case sensitive. (A wildcard is only permitted at the end of the term, not at the beginning or middle for scalability reasons on the service.) Multiple whitespace and/or punctuation characters in the quoted phrase or the note will be compared as if they were a single space. The backslash escape character ('\') may be used to escape a quotation mark within a quoted phrase

I don't know of any plans to change this, but I'm not privy to Evernote's internal plans.

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Thanks for the feedback and the link. Regarding which comments, I was referring to several comments I'd seen regarding the subject that came back after simply searching Forum for "special character" - https://discussion.evernote.com/search/?q="special character".  I'm new to the EN User Forum, but seems to be a lot of useful info posted out here. Thanks again for the info and link you shared.

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To me it's an absolutely necessary feature and I am quite disappointed in the app... No special character search? Seriously? so many ways and tricks that Evernote could enable such feature... search from within a single note is so far from sufficient!

Hey Evernote! you keep your side/dev less complex, you make the user side more complex and miserable until they give up on your app...

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This has always been a pet peeve of mine.  Why wouldn't symbols be supported?  I mean, if I search for 'A' for example, I will get every note that contains the letter A, which would be all of them.  Why can't symbols be treated as characters.  It just makes no sense.  It would help so much when searching for stock symbols (preceded by $ on Twitter) for instance.  If I search for SHOP I get every note that contains the word SHOP instead of notes about Shopify. So a search for $SHOP would be most useful.   Again, this just makes no sense. 

Why would they just say, "OK, we need a fantastic search tool since we are essentially a free-form database.  We're even going to search within photos.  But it makes sense to only allow search for alpha and numeric characters.  We'll ignore common symbols like # @ and $ because it would allow people to easily find hashtags, email addresses, and stock symbols.

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8 hours ago, RustyC said:

I mean, if I search for 'A' for example, I will get every note that contains the letter A

Actually only notes with words beginning with the letter A ☹️

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1 hour ago, RustyC said:

It would help so much when searching for stock symbols (preceded by $ on Twitter) for instance.

It happens this works.  An ?idiosyncrasy? of how EN converts symbols to blanks seems to find notes with $xxx in them.  Note the blank in front of sym in the search information.  It's kind of like a word beginning with a blank is in the search index...  You just have to know what is after the special character. 

OTOH a $s search will return $sym and any note with a word starting with s.  I don't get it, it just seems to work that way.  Idiosyncrasy.  

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2 hours ago, CalS said:

It happens this works.  An ?idiosyncrasy? of how EN converts symbols to blanks seems to find notes with $xxx in them.  Note the blank in front of sym in the search information.  It's kind of like a word beginning with a blank is in the search index...  You just have to know what is after the special character. 

Not sure that this does work, really. I tried this and a search for $SYM will find matches for #SYM, $SYM, and @SYM, just plain SYM, and probably others. I see no space character preceding 'sym' in the search information: i.e., it looks the same for $SYM as it does for SYM. In addition, searches on #SYM, $SYM, @SYM, etc. appear to work exactly the same as a search for SYM. As far as I can tell, special characters (punctuation in the search grammar documentation - https://dev.evernote.com/doc/articles/search_grammar.php) are discarded in the search query, and also in note text (or as treated as if discarded).  If you're trying to find notes containing $SYM but not get matches on #SYM, SYM, etc, I don't think that that's doable in Evernote, at least the Windows client.

From the docs:

Quote

Punctuation is used to split the input query and document into words, but it is ignored for text matching. The behavior of a quoted search should behave as if the following operations were performed on both the search query and the target note:

  1. All XML markup is removed from the document, leaving only the visible text as a string
  2. The string is converted to a list of words which are separated by one or more whitespace and/or punctuation characters.
  3. The case of each word in the list is normalized
  4. The list of words in the query must match with the same sequence of words in the converted Note

All that being said, I think that it would be great to be able to search for special characters, and I'd already upvoted this request.

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3 hours ago, jefito said:

Not sure that this does work, really. I tried this and a search for $SYM will find matches for #SYM, $SYM, and @SYM, just plain SYM, and probably others. I see no space character preceding 'sym' in the search information: i.e., it looks the same for $SYM as it does for SYM

Yeah, my bad on that one.

3 hours ago, jefito said:

 In addition, searches on #SYM, $SYM, @SYM, etc. appear to work exactly the same as a search for SYM.

I think you got me here.  I tried in my test account, not enough notes I suppose.  That and I still have my cold.  <whine><whine>

I too have up-voted.

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49 minutes ago, sam20e said:

As a power user, I should be able to turn off this stop words feature - 

I should be able to use "and then reply back" kinda match-all keywords. 

Your post has been merged with similar discussions of the search feature   
To indicate your support use the vote button at the top left corner of the discussion

Personally, I don't see it as a "turn off" request.  The search feature should not drop characters/words from the indexing

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