Help DeskNew to SmugMug › How does search work?

How does search work?

Updated: 11/16/2015

Want to make sure your photos are found? Here are some highlights for getting the most out of SmugMug (not Google) searching.

  • The gallery keywords box (in your gallery settings) will be indexed up to the first 50 keywords as long as that gallery also has a description, is accessible by Public (Everyone), not protected by a password, and has Visibility set to Yes.
  • When you're logged in, your entire SmugMug site will be searchable by you, regardless of your security or privacy settings. Hidden photos are searchable as well.
  • Logged-out visitors will never see hidden photos in search results, and they will never see unlisted galleries or the photos they contain in search results.
  • Assuming your Site Visibility settings allow visitor searching, visitors will find galleries and photos for public, non-password-protected galleries.
  • Filenames can be indexed as keywords, if you toggle that setting ON in your Account Settings > Discovery > Search.
  • Collected Photos will be revealed in their original gallery as long as that gallery is searchable.
  • Searching for part of a word will return common pluralizations of that word, e.g., searching for drop will return photos labeled drops.
  • Searching for two or more words will return only photos or galleries that contain each of those words. Order does not matter, e.g., searching for Ball Sweetheart will return results for galleries/photos that contain the word ball and the word sweetheart
  • Case doesn't matter. So Ball and ball will return the same results. 
  • Numbers searches will return gallery or photo results if that number is part of a caption, gallery title, gallery description, or if it comprises a keyword. 

Modify a User's Search

Fine-tune your user’s search results by page or by gallery to help them more quickly find what they’re looking for. This allows participants from a specific event, for example, to get results related to their event only instead of from your entire site.

There are a couple of ways you, as the site owner, can set this up for your customers.

To enable these options, go to Customize > Content and Design and drag the Search Box content block onto the gallery or page you want.

Click the wrench icon on the content block to modify the search box settings.

The settings panel is where you’ll make your search-box tweaks.

Basic settings

The Basic tab in the search box settings gives you the following options:

  • Title: You can highlight your search bar by giving it a display title.
  • Display Search Button: Determine whether or not you want the search button displayed after the search box.
  • Alignment: Choose where your search box aligns on the page.
  • Results Page: Select whether you want search results displayed on a search page or in a keyword gallery.
  • Default Results: Choose the default setting for what search prioritizes in its results—photos, videos, galleries, folders, or pages.
  • Scope: Specify the areas on your site any visitor can search within—current location, entire site, location I choose, or location visitor chooses. Search boxes placed on a Page will default to searching the entire site.
  • Location: If you change the scope to either “Location I Choose” or “Location Visitor Chooses,” this option will allow you to select which areas of your site can be searched.


The Text tab in the search box settings allows you to customize the text for your search box.

  • Search Box Placeholder: Type your own prompt text to display inside the search box. The default is “search for photos.”
  • Before Search Box: Choose whether or not to place prompting text before the search box.
  • Search Button Text: Change the button text to display what you prefer. The default is “Search.”


In the Advanced tab, you can modify the search terms you want in any of the following formats:

  • Require Numeric Value: Toggle this option on if you want your visitors to be required to use a number in their search terms; for example, a bib number in a race.
  • Query Length: If the numeric value requirement is enabled, specify how many numbers your visitors are required to enter to complete a valid search.
  • Automatically Modify Searches: Fine-tune a visitor’s search results to help them better find what they’re looking for on your site.
    • Modify a keyword: {query}keyword1 or keyword1{query}
      Example: {snow}dogs results in “snowdogs”
    • Add a separate keyword: {query};keyword1
      Example: {snow};dogs results in “snow” and “dogs”
      Example: {winter} NY results in “winter NY”

To display multiple modified keywords for your users, set the “Results Page” option to “Keywords Gallery” in the Basic tab. Then separate each keyword with a semicolon in the Advanced tab:

  • {query}keyword1;keyword2
    Example: {snow}dogs;January results in “snowdogs” and “January”
  • {query};keyword2;keyword3
    Example: {snow};dogs;January results in “snow,” “dogs,” and “January”