Joomla 4 Will Have a New Default Search Extension

Joomla 4 Will Have a New Default Search Extension

Joomla 4 is making progress with Alpha releases every month or so.

The latest version of Joomla 4 is Alpha 10. You can read the release announcement here.

Alpha 10 brings one important change: there is now a new default search extension. The old com_search has been replaced by com_finder.

This isn't a new extension because com_finder has been in every version of Joomla 3: it was called "Smart Search". So for several years, Joomla has had two search extensions in the core. This didn't make much sense and it's good to remove one of them. The old com_search will join other retired extensions such as Weblinks as an optional Joomla download.

I'm going to give you an overview of the new Joomla 4 search. It really is far more advanced and fully-featured than the old search that it's replacing.

Introducing the New Joomla 4 Search

The old Joomla search was set-and-forget. You didn't have to configure anything, but search was also very basic, with very with options.

The new Joomla 4 search is far more advanced and configurable. The com_finder extension uses an active indexer. This means that will have to run the indexer once, but after that Joomla will automatically index any new content you create.


After running the indexed, every time you return to the search page, you'll find that all your content is listed here:

indexed content

Beyond the basic search features, there's a "Content Map" that gives you a breakdown of all the content in your site's index:

content map

There's also a "Search Filters" feature. This allows you to create filters for your visitors to use. For example, you could allow them to see only content in a particular category, or only content published between a particular start date and end date. This feature isn't only useful for searching. I can imagine many ways in which you can use the Search Filters to present content to your visitors. Think of this has a very highly customizable alternative to the Blog / List layouts that are the default in Joomla now. You can create search filters and then link to then from your menus.

search filter

You will need plugins for all the content you need indexing, so extension developers will need adapt their code for Joomla's new search.

smart search plugins

Advanced Features of the New Search

Did I mention that the new search was far more powerful than the old search? You'll realize that when you dig into the new search options. You can customize your search results in many ways:

smart search options

You can also customize the importance given to different parts of the search results. For example, you can choose to give more weight to Titles, to the Body text, to the Metadata, or to another parts of your Joomla content.

smart search options 2

How to Update to the New Search

The Joomla team have an update process in place for when you migrate sites to Joomla 4. This probably won't happen until 2020.

  • Disable the com_search modules.
  • Enable the com_finder extension.
  • Replace your old com_search modules with new com_finder modules.
  • Run the indexer. You will need to do this even you’re already using com_finder on your Joomla 3 site.

More on Joomla 4's new features

About the author

Steve is the CEO of Joomlashack. Originally from the UK, he now lives in Sarasota in the USA. Steve has been involved with Joomla since 2006.