How Search and the Filter Pane work together in SharePoint Online Libraries

SharePoint Online lists and libraries can hold up to 30 million files and folders.  Sounds great, right?  Well, we found that once you reach 5000 items, much of the available features (like group-by) no longer work. 

We tested the following scenarios related to search and filters in a library that has folders, managed metadata columns and over 27,000 items.   We hope the outcomes we found help you better understand what to expect. 

  1. Is Library Search restricted by folders?  Yes.  If in a folder, Library Search is restricted to the items in the folder. 
    1. Open the library (all documents view) 
      1. In the library search box, enter “Sample.doc” (without quotes), click the See More Results link. 
        1. Note: file is displayed in the search “preview” pane. 
      2. Search results returns one result. 
      3. In the library search box, enter “Sample.doc” (with quotes), click the See More Results link. 
        1. Note: file is displayed in the search “preview” pane. 
      4. Search results return one result. 
    2. Open a folder that does not contain the Sample.doc. 
      1. In the library search box, enter “Sample.doc” (without quotes), click See More Results link.
        1. Note: No files displayed in search “preview” pane. 
      2. Nothing returned in Search results. 
    3. Open the folder that contains the Sample doc. 
      1. In the library search box, enter “Sample.doc” (without quotes), click See More Results link. 
        1. Note: file is displayed in the search “preview” pane. 
      2. Search results returns one result. 
  2. Does selecting a managed metadata term in the Library filter feature restrict search results?  Yes, setting a Library filter limits the items returned in search.  
    1. Open a folder containing a Sample.doc. 
    2. Open the “Filters Pane” feature from the library ribbon. 
    3. Select a managed metadata term that has been applied to your sample.doc.   Filter to show only items with the term. 
    4. In the library search box, enter “Sample.doc” (without quotes), click See More Results link. 
      1. Note: file is displayed in search “preview” pane. 
    5. Nothing returned in Search results. 
  3. Does setting a Library filter on a column restrict search results?  Yes, setting a Library filter limits the items returned in search.  
    1. Open a folder containing your Sample.doc. 
    2. Open the “Filter by” feature by clicking the managed metadata column and then clicking Filter by. 
    3. Select a term that you know is not applied to Sample.doc.   Display updates to show only items with the term applied. 
    4. In the library search box, enter “Sample.doc” (without quotes), click See More Results link. 
      1. Note: file is displayed in search “preview” pane. 
    5. Nothing returned in Search results. 
  4. Does the Library filter display terms that are not actually applied to at least one item?   Yes, the Library filter shows all possible terms. 
    1. Open a sample folder. 
    2. Review the terms applied to items in one a managed metadata column. 
    3. Open the “Filters Pane” feature from the library ribbon. 
    4. Compare the list of terms in the term set to the terms found in the filtered library.    
    5. All possible terms for the term set are displayed in the Filter pane.  
  5. Does the per column filter only display terms that have actually been applied to at least one item?  Yes, the Per-column filter by only displays terms that are actually applied, including “empty.” 
    1. Open a sample folder. 
    2. Review the terms applied to items in the product column. 
    3. Open the “Filter by” feature by clicking a managed metadata column and then clicking Filter by. 
    4. Compare the list of terms in the term set to the terms found in the Filter by feature.    
    5. Only terms actually applied to items are displayed in the Filter by feature.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss any aspect of your SharePoint environment or project, send us an email at info@peters.com or call 630.832.0075 to start the conversation.  We are happy to help!