Tag: Photo Mechanic

search illustration

New search engine and Boolean primer

search illustration
Icon: Тимур Минвалеев/The Noun Project,  Illustration: Carl Seibert

This just in – site search

Looking for something? I just added a search engine to this blog.

If, say, you’re interested in using ExifTool to work with GPS data, you can now search exiftool gps, instead of reading through every post. (ExifTool and GPS are both mentioned in several posts, but closest to what you want, as of this writing, is semi-hidden near the bottom of the Emmanuel Macron portrait post. So, yeah, it was becoming pretty obvious that I needed to add that search functionality.)

(Note that I’m using orange type when I talk about search terms here because quotation marks have a particular meaning in the world of search and it would be confusing as all get out if I used them for, you know, quotations.)

There is a search box in the footer of every page and post, and the main menu at the top of every page and post now has a link to a search page.

Let’s get Boolean

The new search engine connects search terms with a Boolean AND operator. That’s like the default in Google

Today we have a new search tool and a primer on Boolean searching.

back in the day or the “Must Include All Of” option found in many search functions.

So, if you enter two search terms, like joe photographer a (hypothetical) post that included “Joe Smith is a great guy”, and “Suzy is a great photographer” would return.

AND means that a content item that contains both this and that and some-other-thing meets the criteria and will return. AND searches return few results (hopefully including what you were looking for). AND can be hard to wrap your head around. Another way of thinking about AND is that, on a Venn diagram, it’s the intersection. If thinking about Venn diagrams is how you roll.

You wouldn’t be blamed for thinking at first that an AND search would return, all summed up together, the results of individual searches for this, that, and some-other-thing. (Union, in Venn terms) You’d be wrong, but you wouldn’t be blamed.


OR searches are like summing up the results of separate searches. An OR search for joe photographer would return any posts that mention Joe in any way, plus any posts that mention photographer in any way. OR searches typically return tons of results that aren’t what you want. Venn-wise, OR is a union. In some programs, OR would be “Includes Any Of”.

That said, if you want to do OR searches here, I can buy an upgrade that makes that possible. Speak up in the comments. If enough people pester me about it, I’ll do that.


Our new search engine allows you use double quotes to search for an exact phrase. So “joe photographer” would return only posts that mention Joe Photographer specifically, excluding examples like the Joe Smith one above.

Partial strings are supported if the missing letters are at the beginning or end of a word. photo and grapher will both return posts with the word photographer. But graph will not.

NOT searches are not supported. Sadly.

Fancy search engines that I can’t afford (and would not likely be found in the sort of desktop software that most of you will use to manage your photos) allow users to string Booleans together like mathematical equations to make elegant searches. (joe OR photographer) NOT smith would return any posts that include either the words joe, or photographer, but would exclude that anything that mentions that Smith guy.

So today we have a new search tool and a primer on Boolean searching. Enjoy!



Not finding what you’re looking for, even with the search functionality? It’s entirely likely that I haven’t written about it yet. Boot me into action in the comments.