How To Search Within Notes and Custom Fields

Basic Search

The default search on all the Bitwarden apps and clients uses a “Basic Search” format – just type in a string of text, and Bitwarden will look for that string within important fields in your vault entries, such as an item’s Name, a Folder name, a Username, or URI. For such fields, it does not matter if you type in the entire string exactly or if you just type in part of the string into the search bar. For example, if you use your email address [email protected] as the username for a login item in your vault, you can search by typing either the full email address or just the substring gmail and Bitwarden will find it.


Basic Search also works for Notes entries and Custom Fields as well, but with a caveat. Strings stored within these fields will not be searched by a sub-string search by default. For example, if you had a Custom Field defined in an item with the name SecondaryEmail and the value was [email protected], entering only hotmail in the search bar will not find the item. Instead, you must either type in the entire email address exactly as it was stored or use a Full-text Search to find the item.



Full-text Search (available in web vault, desktop apps, and browser extensions only)

The most reliable way to search for matching values in Notes or Custom Fields is with a full-text search. Using the above example of a Custom Field named SecondaryEmail, one could find all entries containing the string hotmail using this search term:


Note the leading > symbol, which tells Bitwarden to use full-text search, as well as the asterisk (*) characters surrounding the word hotmail, which tells the search engine to look for that sub-string anywhere in any entry.


If you are certain that the email ends in, then you could also just use one wildcard character by typing in your search term like this:



See a video demonstration of searching within Notes below:


Other Capabilities of Full-text Searches

With full-text searchers, you also have some control over which folders or collections to search, you can build AND, OR, and NOT Boolean searches, or you can specify to search only within certain fields, such as an item’s Name, Notes, or a specific custom field, if you like. More information on wielding full-text searches can be found here:


Helpful References:

Search your Vault | Bitwarden Help Center

Custom Fields | Bitwarden Help Center

Search within and inside all notes


But why do not Bitwarden use full-text search by default, letting us type: hotm and get the exptected resaults?

If there is good reasoning for this, please add a an option in settings, giving users the ability to set their Bitwarden to full-text search by default, giving info on consequences.


Exactly, this is what I am thinking right now. Clearly, they need to improve the user friendliness and user ability of this application.

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Nah. If the default search was the advanced, full-text search, even more users would complain it was too difficult, You can’t please everyone,

Besides, is it really all that hard to type in one character to activate the full-text search? Seriously guys.

Lastpass does this.

I have multiple accounts signed up with the same email, the only variation being +1,+2,+3 etc.

I have to search:


So I have press two additional keys on the keyboard (1 more backspace and 1 more star) to go through and search the last email I signed and add 1 on top.

Why not just make the search just like any other Ctrl + F search? not sure what the point of the * wildcard adds other than an extra key to press and it’s not intuitive that users will know that. People want to see any and all matches and then they can select the one that is useful to them. Rather than not showing anything at all, it’s not intuitive.

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Rather than complain about the search workaround I posted here to try to help other users who were stuck searching inside of notes, please add your comments and vote to this feature request that seeks to add basic search functions to note fields and custom fields:

@agamon - FWIW, I agree with you that basic search should be extended to at least custom fields by default. I don’t understand, either, why searching inside of custom fields or notes requires a full-text search using special syntax. Your use-case is a good one - I hope you will add it to the feature request thread, along with your vote.


@dh024 In the wildcard searches shown in the video demonstration, why is the leading > character not needed?

Honestly, I don’t understand it either. My guess is that sub-string searches are disabled when using basic search inside notes and custom fields, so adding the asterisk enables it, without having to enter a full-text search with the > character. Makes little sense to me, but at least there is a workaround, albeit non-elegant.

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Every app has different ways of specifying extended capabilities. Who can remember it all? It’s not that it is one key, it’s that there isn’t a key that would be intuitive enough to remember.

Since most people would expect a search to be across all fields, then that is what the default should be. This isn’t a supposition on my part, I had to do the market analyses for one of my apps and found this to be overwhelmingly the case (and then I changed my app accordingly).

This highlights my main gripe with Bitwarden and the reason I will churn away if/when a better alternative arises – an arbitrary lack of feature parity across apps and OS’s, and random implementation details hindering the UX in each. Consumers shouldn’t have to “read the manual” and learn a long list of idiosyncratic gotchas.

If a user searches for a string in your app, they will naturally expect to see the exact same results across devices, environments, and OS’s. I am a super user and I still often forget that the iOS app search doesn’t include anything within notes.

Same issue with backup. Users will naturally expect backup functionality to include attachment and password history – essentially all information to restore an account to the state at the point the backup was made – but they don’t, so Bitwarden’s implementation of backup isn’t a real backup, and the omissions render the use of Bitwarden largely useless for storing any sort of important document, destroying the value proposition and forcing users to use other alternatives (if/when they even become aware of this issue).

IMO Bitwarden needs to focus long and hard on unifying the experience across all apps, and ensuring existing functionality is “fully” implemented, before tackling new features; they also shouldn’t stagger new feature implementation across OS’s or devices, unless that feature is something inherent or specific to that OS/device.