How to Do a Facebook Search

A woman looks into the smartphone in front of Facebook logo

Facebook continues to be the world’s largest social network and is a very effective way to search for people. Millions of people rely on it to stay in touch with family and friends, and they check it every day. If you’re searching for someone online, it’s highly likely they have a Facebook profile.

Basic Facebook Search

Using the search box in the blue bar is the first step in looking for anyone on Facebook. You can also use it to find groups, events pages, and things your friends have liked. When you type in the name of a person in the search box, Facebook will auto-complete the name as you type.

Facebook is assuming you’re trying to find a friend’s timeline when you’re typing in the search bar. If you’re looking for someone not on your Friends list, you need to be sure you type in the full name. You can expand your search option by using the filters underneath the search bar.

The filters underneath the search bar allow you to narrow the search by city, work, education, or friends of friends. So if you’re searching for Joe Pringle in Indianapolis, Indiana, Facebook will pull up the profiles of all members under that name and in that city. To start this search, you would type in Joe Pringle, then tap “People” underneath the search bar. That will show your filter options, including city. The “City” filter will let you enter the city where you can search for any profiles in that city under that name.

Facebook sign and search bar on PC

Searching by Work or Education

The work and education search filters work the same way as you searched for the person by city. By using the Work filter, you type in the name of a company or business. Facebook will search any profiles that include the name of the person and workplace associated with the person. The education filter lets you enter the name of a school, college, or university to find the person. You can narrow the search by entering the year or years the person attended the school.

Finding a Friend of a Friend

Facebook is usually one step ahead of you if you’re trying to find a friend of a friend. Whenever you friend somebody, the program tries to get you to expand your network by giving you friend suggestions. This shows up as “People you may know” and gives you the option to request to be a friend of the person. The friend suggestions are friends of people already in your network.

You can always scroll through your friend’s friend list to find somebody. This might be a problem if your friend keeps their list private. If this blocks you, scroll through the comment thread. Profiles can be found if they’re somehow linked to a comment.

Businessman hand cursor icon finding a friend in internet.

Groups and Posts on the Facebook Search Filter

You can also look up places and posts related to them in your friend network through the Facebook search filters. Enter “Grand Canyon,” for example, and you will find profiles related to the Grand Canyon. Hit the post filter, and you will see all sorts of posts related to the Grand Canyon by friends in your network.

Search by Likes and Phrases

Facebook’s search feature also lets you find people who share similar interests with you. You would do this by typing in a phrase in the search bar. For example, by typing in “people who like the Hold Steady” or “people who like chorizo,” Facebook would pull up profiles of people who have “liked” those things. The algorithm Facebook uses will first pick profiles in your friend network and then expand out to profiles in your city or places you’ve lived before.

You can also narrow your search in the same way you search for a person or place. Type in “people who like chorizo,” and then narrow your parameter by Post From, or Posted From Group, Tagged Location, and so on. The search in this instance will pull up a profile from someone in your city who mentions chorizo in a comment.

Hashtags written on multiple blue road sign

How to Find Someone on Facebook Without Logging In

There are a couple of options to find someone on Facebook without logging in. You can search for profile names on the Facebook Directory. The directory will show a list of names of the person you’re looking for.

Update 8/13/2018 – Facebook’s Directory is No Longer Online!

Facebook also has a People Search on its official search page. A list of profile names will show matching the name of the person you typed into the search bar. You can add more details, like city or school.

You can also find Facebook profiles through the social media search engine Social Searcher. The search engine scans multiple social media networks to find the name of the person you’re searching for. The search results show the name of the social media profile and also pulls up their latest activity post.

A woman is typing on Google search engine from a laptop

Google It

You can use Google search to find someone on Facebook. In the Google search bar, type in site: Name. “Name” is where you would type in the name of the person you’re searching for. The search results will show all matching profiles. Clicking on the link will take you to Facebook’s People Search page.

Browser Add-Ons

Downloading browser add-ons is one way to search for Facebook profiles without logging onto it. You can get these for the Firefox and Chrome browsers. The Firefox add-on is called People Search Engine. For Chrome, it’s called All in One Internet Search.

Why Does Facebook Show Limited Search Results?

Silhouette of a hand holding a padlock infront of the facebook logo

Privacy settings are usually the reason a person’s profile might not show up in a search. Facebook users have the option to hide their profiles from search engines through their account settings. Under their privacy settings, they can adjust “Who can look me up?” They also select options to choose who can view their posts and timelines.

Facebook members can also block specific people. There’s a “Blocking” feature in Account Settings. Facebook members activate this by typing in the name of the person they want to block.

Facebook’s New Privacy Settings

Facebook updated its privacy settings in 2018 following the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The network was internationally scorned after Cambridge Analytica used the personal information of millions of Facebook users to help Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Updating privacy settings was part of damage control in the fallout.

Hand holding a magnifying glass and magnifying the word "Privacy settings" on Facebook

Facebook now asks users if they agree to the network using data from outside sources to target them with adds. Users also have to agree to the network using members’ political, religious, and relationship information. Users are also asked about their willingness to be identified through facial recognition.

How to Do an Advanced People Search

You can avoid Facebook altogether by using more advanced methods to search for people. One way is using the White Pages website. The home page has a search bar where you simply type in the person’s first and last name. The search only pulls up the age of the person and you have to pay for more information.

There are many services online that provide background checks by scanning public records. scans millions of public records of federal, state, and local agencies to provide information on anyone. CheckThem’s people search tool can provide a full profile in seconds by entering a first and last name in the search bar.

Search results pull up information based on everything known about the person that’s public record. The information includes the person’s age and address, and names of spouses, parents, siblings, and the person’s address. You’ll also find business, court records, marriage license, and divorce information.

A background check is the surest way to get an accurate profile of a person. There are many reasons you would want to do this — safety probably being the biggest. Not only do you find out about court and criminal records, you also have the person’s contact information. That’s phone numbers, email addresses, and any social media profiles in the person’s name.

Simple browser window. Browser search mobile.

Using Google to People Search

You can research anything through the world’s biggest search engine, and it’s a great way to test your sleuthing skills. Sometimes it’s as easy as typing a name into the search bar. Usually, it takes a little more than that.

When using Google alone to find a person, think of anything associated with them. Make a list of what you know. Do you know the city they’re living in? How about the school they attended? All of this kind of information can be used in a Google search.

In addition to entering their name in the search bar, put in the name of the city and school. You could also include a phone number or email address. If this kind of information is listed on a social media profile, it could show up in a Google search.