Search isn't the best to be frank

I think the search needs updating, not sure how, but for sure finding notes never works.

I think it’s expected that if I search for a note title, ie the first line of a note, titles should be prioritised when searching.

Currently the Ui feels unhelpful and confusing. I highlights lots of broken up words that don’t really relate to the query. If I search an exact note title it never comes up.

To me a very primitive sql search “title” LIKE %query% would be better than what it currently is.

This is so clunky it’s kinda becoming a deal breaker for me. Not really, because I love bear and have been using for years, I’m just saying this to be helpful and constructive. However, this stuff is what I’m sure many people will choose to leave bear for in the end, especially when things like Apple notes just works for details like this.


I don’t think I agree very much. To me, the ‘broken up’ searching of keywords is a feature; it helped me find notes that I otherwise wouldn’t. It’s a bit more fuzzy, but I like that.

To note: Bear 2 also allows you to search like you just said – just put your query in between quotes. Like “search query”, which will match only the whole string, not those words separately.

And as a side-note, calling a functionality “terrible” may not be very constructive feedback, especially if you follow it up by saying it needs updating, but you don’t know how.

No Matticus you don’t understand. I am coming completely from an idiot perspective. I deem myself an “idiot” when I haven’t used something for a while for example, or perhaps I just want to get to something super quickly in the pressure of the moment, eg creatively writing lyrics and recording music. I do not have time or care for those nuances and technicalities in these situations, and I’m a pretty smart guy. There are people much slower than me and also perhaps have disabilities and what not, and I believe this experience is difficult and slow even for the best of us. This is constructive feedback my friend, blunt at worst.

I think a good 6/10 times when someone goes to use the search, it’s to search for a specific note. Search should be quick but also powerful, but quick most importantly. To not have title search as default priority behaviour is a mistake.

What you are saying sounds great, and I’m sure advanced functionality will serve many, but I think none of that matters when you can’t do an intuitive search for a note title. Even technical minded people will get frustrated with this and decide not to use the app.


“To note: Bear 2 also allows you to search like you just said – just put your query in between quotes. Like “search query”, which will match only the whole string, not those words separately.”

This isn’t good enough because there is no way for a user to know this off the bat. It isn’t expected behaviour, particularly for IOS. I think bear does a great job at providing advanced markdown functionality, but it does an even better job at being an intuitive and fast creative tool. This is why I believe the search should be faster and more intuitive. The feature you are talking about should be an advanced feature perhaps you toggle on and off with a little Icon or something, a special search “mode” if you prefer.

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I also have problems with the search, but not really with its matching criteria. I often find what I’m looking for, as long as I can find the search bar. Let me elaborate:

Search is OK on Mac where you have keyboard shortcuts to quickly access it and use the search operators, but on iOS this is not the case. Let’s say I’m viewing a note inside a subtag; if I want search my whole Bear database, I have to exit the note, open sidebar, scroll to top, open ‘Notes,’ tap search, and only then I can start typing.

Using the many search operators is really cumbersome on iOS too as it’s really only optimized for hardware keyboard use. Search filtering is too typing-heavy to be useful on mobile.

What I’d love to see is a way to access the full database-wide search anywhere from the app. If I’m viewing a note in a subtag, I want to pull down to access search or tap an icon in the overflow menu, and I don’t want it to limit the search scope to what tag I’m in.

Sure, some probably want to limit the search scope to current tag, but I think I should be able to toggle the scope between current tag and whole database no matter where I initiate the search.

I know search upgrades are planned later, and I’m sure there will be big improvements.


This isn’t good enough because there is no way for a user to know this off the bat.

100%. The advanced search operators are more like an easter egg than a feature. There’s no way to know any of it unless you browse through the whole Bear documentation on their website.

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+1. Personally, I don’t find the search to be terrible but I also don’t find it to be stellar. I think the basic search criteria of just grepping on words is okay but really misses a lot of contextual hints like, last accessed note. The UX is also too barebones imo as others have noted since there’s no tag autocomplete or suggestion when searching. A lot of special search operators are not really discoverable and just like how the markdown elements are hidden but now available via an easy toolbar, so should the search operators be.

Would also love to see a CMD+K style interface that simulates the normal search right now and have the option of delving into deeper search if that doesn’t provide the exact results. I see Bear becoming like a lightweight notes IDE :slight_smile:


I am not sure if I understand your usecase but my search results are prioritized by title (first are listed notes with searched word appearing in title)

There is a superb Alfred shorcut exactly for this (cmd+K functionality), at least for Bear 1.0. (Alfred Bear Workflow, author is drgrib). I agree with you that such functionality would be very helpful to be implemented in Bear (and developers promised to implement it later in Bear 2 if I remember correctly).

Current search is doing two separate functions: Quick open (search for a note where some word will very probably somewhere in title and I remember this world etc) and more deep search/filtering, e.g. when I want to filter only notes with some term and browse them. But in this second case I might want to see search results in original sorting (e.g. I always sort by last modifeed first and I would like to see these notes in this exact order, maybe with the exception of word appearing in title - as current implementation is, I am satisfied with it).

However with Quick open, you want to see most relevant note first and have sorted search results by relevance (which is of course subject of discussion what it is: e.g. it can be not only match in title/headings/bolded text as higher relevance, but also number of times note was opened from quick search or history of last opened notes, or date of modification taken into account and many other factors)

Quick open (cmd+k function) is really helpful and that is why I used above mentioned Alfred shortcut exclusively for this in Bear 1.0.

Generally spoken I would say that a global search and outside of the context (where searchbar is called) is counterintuitive, at least for me. Actually it is also not that cumbersome to go the notes node in tag tree: two swipes to the right and one click on the note is the maximum on interaction and is fast if you have used that often.

Nevertheless here an example how ulysses solved that:

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I’ve read the replies, I think currently the main issue is that I’m searching for a title and the result is all the way down the results list given I have so many notes. To me the yellow highlights are actually more distracting than they are helpful in the situation you just want to quickly find a note you know the exact name of. I think if the code responsabile for this search prioritised note titles in the results list, or even prioritised whole phrases, that will be better.

Here’s some terribly redacted screenshots, hopefully you get the point, you see I search “be you be young”, yet I have scroll down and eventually the 15th result in the list is the note titled “be you be young”

When I search “be you be young”, that note should come up as fast as lighting, end of conversation for me really. This is UX 101. The reason I am stressing this is because bear is probably the best creative writing tool there is and sometimes you just need to find a pen urgently if you get the analogy. It should not take any mental capacity to perform a basic search and find the note you want to write in. The current search is detrimental in breaking creative flow, especially for people with adhd like me. The simple act of consciously scrolling to find a note you need to write in is enough to make you forget the thing you desperately needed to write down.

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I understand your issue. And in regard to macOS I already made a request to be able to specify in a friendly way WHERE to search.

That being said, as default search behaviour the current search however makes totally sense.

+1 also for a quick open note feature.

While there are workarounds available on Mac (Alfred, Raycast), as others have pointed out, these are not available on iOS.

Imo a great feature would be to have a “pull down” menu on iOS to quickly open a note (similar to a certain other markdown PKM app). Again, this would not require detailed search functionality, simply a quick open feature based on note titles.

(I created a separate post about this the other day before finding this one which I shall now delete!)

I also agree the one you are looking for should be the first one shown since it has the highest correlation. In the meanwhile you can use quotation mark or @title to look for the exact one

I’m ok with the current search in Bear. Workflowy has a nice UI around the search input, where things become visible only when the input is focused. Bear could incorporate some of these to show users all of the advanced search options and allow them to toggle @title etc. in the input.

CleanShot 2023-05-07 at 23.38.28@2x
CleanShot 2023-05-07 at 23.39.04@2x

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Whilst that is very nice, I don’t think any UI actually needs to change, except maybe apart from those search hints below the icons, those would be really helpful. Even better if you click them it auto fills the search so you can just start typing. Say the first one in the list is “title”, I could see myself at least getting used to just tapping that and then search like normal. Okay it’s an extra click and that isn’t ideal, but this will defo do after some time getting used to it.

In the end though I guess this isn’t the point of my original thread. Just the search results order needs changing based on the length of highlighted match. Simple order results array by string length.

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