Searching on Geograph

Published: 27 September 2008


Geograph includes a powerful search to enable finding photographs contained within our amazing archive.

Note: if you are familiar with the old search (pre Aug-2008) please see this page - which notes how things have changed.

Info: In most cases the new search will only access the first 1000 results of any search; this should be enough to access relevant images as can simply add more keywords to filter the results to target the search better. We make exceptions for certain non 'word searches'.

There are three main searching methods, also a combination can be used:

Word Searching

On the main search page just enter your keywords into the 'Search for' box. This will find photos with those keywords, anywhere in the title, description, contributor name etc. Note it only matches whole words and matches similar words (eg woods matches wood).

You can enter multiple keywords, and results that match the phrase entered will be nearer the top. If you want an exact phrase surround the words in double quotes ("). You can exclude photos by keyword, just prefix the keyword with a -, eg [bridge -river]

TIP: The Word Search also matches the date the photo was submitted, so you can use things like [flood 2007] to find photos of floods in 2007

See this page: Advanced word syntax.

Place Searching

Enter a place name in the 'near' box on the main search. It should also understand Grid references, Postcodes, and even lat/long coordinates.
The advanced search page breaks down this functionality into multiple boxes to make clearer which you are matching.

If the search doesn't find the actual place you are looking for try adding a ? to the end which will cause it to find more possible matches.

TIP: You can also refine a location by county in Great Britain simply add the modern administrative division with a comma, eg [Beckley, Hampshire]

TIP: you can do both a word match and place match in the search box top right with [{what} near {where}] eg [bridge near Bristol]

TIP: You can often get good results by entering a place name in the Word Search box, as many photos do mention place names and areas in their text. If the place you enter is not found and you are offered possible matches there is usually an option to switch to a Word Search.


On the Advanced Search page, you can also choose to limit your selection to specific photos that match your Word or place search. Options are offered to filter on such things as Contributor, Myriad, Category and Dates the photo was submitted and/or taken.

TIP: You can also do filtering with the Word Search, for example add [year:2007] for photos taken that year, more on the fields supported.


With the simple search results are usually displayed in order of relevance or distance from the search point, but on the advanced search you can choose a specific order of results.

NOTE: many of the sort orders will not work with the more advanced word searches - we hope to resolve this soon.

You can also choose a specific format, eg a slideshow, or a minimal thumbnail only display.

TIP: you can change the display format for a search later, using the dropdown top right on the search results page.


We also have a number of other search options, such as finding first geograph by grid reference and 'check submissions' which helps find photos with limited data.

Another useful feature is the 'marked list', while browsing search results, if you choose a '+links' display format, you can mark individual images. Once you have a marked list you can produce a search result with just the selected images - in the order they where marked. Read more

TIP: the [mark] button is also available on the main photo page.

For most searches you can also choose to display the results on a map using the Google Maps option and there is a link at the bottom of the page which allows you to load the results into Google Earth.

Final TIP: If you select date submitted - descending (reverse) order for your search, you can subscribe to the RSS feed for the results which will let you know about new images that match the search you created.


If you are looking for something other than images try the Finder!
Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   Text © Copyright September 2008, Barry Hunter; licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence.
With contributions by Penny Mayes. (details)
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