Searching collection names?

I have a large number of collections, and often cannot remember what I've called a specific collection and/or where I've put it (nested within other collections). Is there a way to search collection folders by name?
  • no. If you go to advanced search and select collection -> is ...
    you get what you may find to be a better view of all collections, but that's the only possibility atm.
  • edited May 17, 2012
    A collection search would be a nice feature to have - I'm up at around 300 collections and growing and looking for a deeply nested collection can take a little while if I can't quite remember where I put it.

    Edit: at the moment I work around this by searching for an item which I remember is in the collection, and then using "alt" to find out which collection it's in, but that's less than ideal.
  • I second that. A collection search would be a really nice feature. My work depends on keeping a large volume of materials well differentiated, for which I use collections. With more than 5,000 items and hundreds of collections and subcollections, I am finding it hard to locate things without a way to search collection names
  • I also vote for search by collection name. It will enable very intuitive combinatorial search. For example, imagine having collection structure like following:

    1. Topic
    1.1. feedforward control
    1.2. feedback control
    1.3. sensing

    2. By article type
    2.1. experimental
    2.2. simulation
    2.3. review

    3. By projects
    3.1. PhD1
    3.2. PhD2
    3.3. postdoc1

    Then, typing 'feedback simulation PhD1' will retrieve the articles defined by three different types of categories.

    Such combinatorial search will be very intuitive and efficient. Also, the search terms will be organized in the collections column, so you never have to worry about memorizing the exact tag name, which is the problem with the current non-hierarchical tag system.
  • I realized that choosing multiple collections, if becomes possible, will have similar effect, by reducing the number of collections you need to define an item. See my post above and this thread.
  • 1) I have a clunky but usable workaround for this problem: when I start a new collection I insert a note with a special identifier ("=folder", in my case) and the name of the collection; you can also add tags for it. Then I can search for "=folder" and whatever tags or modifiers I want, and use the control key to find the collection. (Hey, it works!)

    2) I seem to recall that Zotfile can show what collections an item is in. It seems to me it would only be a small step from that to providing the function requested in this thread.
  • As noted in other threads, you can press "+" (plus) to expand all collections and then start typing a collection name to select it.
    I seem to recall that Zotfile can show what collections an item is in.
    That's just a Zotero feature.
  • > That's just a Zotero feature.

    Yes, I do use that, but I find it a clunky way of doing it when you have lots of collections -- you have to scroll down and look for yellow highlights while holding down the control key. I believe the zotfile thing actually returned a list of the collections.

    And it doesn't address the other problem, of finding a collection you know is there somewhere -- equivalent to looking for folders in Windows (or Mac, I suppose). That's why I put a marker note in each collection, because you can search for notes.

    In general, it seems collections are a bit of a stepchild in the zotero world. The online library, for instance, works very well for items and tags, but the collections take forever to load -- over a minute in my case. I find collections an extremely important tool (I use them to organize arguments as I write) and wish they were somewhat easier to use.
  • edited December 30, 2012
    >1) I have a clunky but usable workaround for this problem: when I start a new >collection I insert a note with a special identifier ("=folder", in my case) and
    >the name of the collection; you can also add tags for it. Then I can search for
    >"=folder" and whatever tags or modifiers I want, and use the control key to find
    >the collection. (Hey, it works!)

    Great idea!

    Nevertheless I highly second a simple search function for collection names.

    In an ideal case it would be nested within the current search:

    - Everything
    - Title, Creator, Year
    - All fields & Tags
    - Collections (the new field)
  • Another vote for this feature. Seems like a pretty basic thing to have.
  • What is the current state on this feature request?

    Has it already been evaluated by the developers?
  • I too would love this feature
  • +1 for searching collection names. I would make it a default Tag, so when searching "All field & Tags" the collecions pop up too, intead of adding another option "Collections". But either way would be great.
  • just curious if there has been any progress on this. Seems like a simple thing to do, and would be great for those of us with big libraries and collections nested within forgotten collections
  • edited November 3, 2015
    I would use this everyday. An automatic tag would do the trick. I would also like to have a list of the collections (like it works with tags) that the file is in so I can manage them. Thanks- And I love Zotero.
  • Besides all the good things of Zotero, searching for collection names is also a desirable feature.
  • Would like to be able to search collection names.
  • I have used a kludge (workaround): I put a top-level note in each collection with the collection name and a special tag; then I can search for that name and tag, find the note, and use the control key to highlight it in the Collections. Hey, it works.

    (You can also put additional information in the note to help in finding the collection you want.)
  • edited November 12, 2016
    There is an open ticket for searching collection names: https://github.com/zotero/zotero/issues/1073
    This doesn't mean it's going to happen any time soon (though it might), but it _does_ mean that Zotero devs are generally on board with this.

    (note that github tickets are for developer use. You should not post to the ticket unless you're interested in (helping to) develop the feature).
  • I just wanted to put in a vote for this feature. Thanks
  • I also want this feature and agree with others that it seems like a very basic function, I was actually surprised on finding it isn't already in the (generally excellent) program.

    Re: Feature suggestion on github https://github.com/zotero/zotero/issues/1073
    I wouldn't want a separate search bar just for searching collections, that seems far too inelegant a solution. I would think it's intuitive if collections come up in the list of results for the normal search.
  • No this can't be part of the regular search (which is also one reason this isn't trivial): regular search results are shown in the middle panel, which doesn't (and can't logically) contain collections.

  • Thank you for your response!

    Well if the program is built up in such a way that it's impossible to make the regular search go through the collections and have collections presented in the middle panel without having to re-work the software from the ground up, then yes I understand why it's a non-trivial issue. Thank you for explaining that.

    I think most of us are accustomed to harddrive search functions (eg the search function in Finder in OS X) that return folders as well as files - corresponding to collections and references, respectively, in Zotero. I suppose, now that I consider it, that that's a bit different to Zotero since references don't really have a 'file path' like with most OS's (eg C://Folder/Subfolder/text.txt). Instead it's all in one big heap, my library, while the collections are really more like tags than actual 'folders' in the sense of the word we are familiar with from file managers. You might be going "no shit sherlock" right now. But I'm guessing this might be the reason why I and others found it counterintuitive not to be presented with corresponding collections, in addition to references, when doing a search. Not that this necessarily makes it easier to find a solution everyone would be satisfied with. But I think it might help thinking about when people well-versed in the Zotero environment discuss the issue with those of us not very familiar with the nuts and bolts behind the UI.
  • edited January 27, 2018
    We explain the collections model in the documentation, but that's not really the issue here (nor is it a technical one). It's a UI logic issue. The search bar isn't a search of your library. It's a filter of the items you're viewing in the middle pane, which are the items contained in whatever you've selected in the left-hand pane. So it wouldn't make sense for a quick search to show collections in the middle pane, because those collections wouldn't exist within the collection you're viewing. (Sure, they could be if you had a library root selected, or if the results were limited to the subcollections of whatever collection you were viewing, but that's not really what anyone is asking for and would still break the filter concept.)

    So this needs to be a filter of the collections pane, and figuring out an elegant, unobtrusive way to make that accessible in the UI is the challenge.
  • Just to expand on that last point, the obvious solution here would be another filter box at the bottom of the collection pane, similar to the one at the bottom of the tags selector. But having three search bars in the UI all the time seems rather excessive, so I don't think we'd do that (particularly since, as I note above, there's already a way to search for collections via the keyboard).

    What we'll likely do instead is have a way to show and select a filter bar, probably at the top of the pane.

    A toolbar button seems a little unwieldy, since it would be a third magnifying glass in the toolbar, and I suspect most people don't have enough collections for this to be commonly used. (If we got a customizable toolbar at some point in the future, it could be an option.)

    What might work is a "Find Collections" option in the Edit menu (and maybe a shortcut key) that showed and focused that bar. The bar would then be dismissed if you pressed Esc, and maybe also if you just clicked away while it was empty. (There can't really be an 'x' to close the bar, because the search box itself will have an 'x' in it when text is entered.)
  • May I comment on this old thread by adding that:
    1: I would also welcome a feature like that
    and
    2: parallels exist with this
    https://forums.zotero.org/discussion/comment/312246#Comment_312246
    discussion, as mentioned by baswein in 2015 in this thread
  • I would also like to second that for me it's important to quickly locate collections (I have hundreds). I've just switched from Citavi to Zotero (and don't get me wrong, I *love* Zotero). But in citavi I was able to quickly search for collections, and now it's a bit of a mess (e.g., sometimes you don't know the first letter of the collection name, which is why the keyboard search option doesn't really cut it). So it'd be great to find a convenient implementation via search/filter! And thanks for this awesome program!
  • I would also also like to vote for such a feature, having a lot of collections too. Thanks a lot by the way for this great program !
  • I'll add a vote for this feature on behalf of our whole group. It would be extremely helpful! I'd even be happy with an inelegant solution that included a 3rd search field. Just having this functionality would be worthwhile even if it's clunky.

    Also, regarding the partial solution of expanding collections and typing, it was helpful to learn about that here in this thread (thank you), but it only seems to find collections that begin with the letters you type, and only if you type quickly and smoothly enough. It seems to be an extremely limited solution and does not help if the term you're looking for isn't at the very beginning of the collection or if you have more than one collection with that term included. Is there a way to get it to jump to the next or previous instance?
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