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Todd Klindt's home page > Todd Klindt's Office 365 Admin Blog > Posts > List attachments are searchable
October 14
List attachments are searchable

I have a confession to make, I was wrong. One of my readers made a comment on a blog post asking if the contents of attachments to list items were indexed, and therefore searchable. I said they were not. I was wrong. Had I spent five minutes to test it, I would have known better. After being called out on it by another reader I decided to test it. Imagine my surprise when I found it worked. I had my buddy Shane Young verify my results, and he did. I went to him not because of his rugged good looks, but because he just coauthored a new book on Search (review coming shortly). To sum up, if you attach a document to a list item (a contact, a task, etc) the contents of that file can be found via a search. This is true with both WSS and MOSS. It looks like the filename itself is not indexed, though. You can test this out by searching for "Shazam" on this site. You should get this blog post, a blog comment and an appointment named "Search Test" where I have attached a document with Shazam in it. By contrast, if you search for "b i n g o" (with no spaces) you won't get any hits, even though there's a file with that name attached to the same appointment. Searching for "f o u n d" (again, remove the spaces) will discover that attachment. That demonstrates the attachment is getting indexed, but its filename was not. These tests were all done on WSS, but I verified them on MOSS. With MOSS make sure you run a crawl between when you attach the document and when you search for it.

The one downside I've seen is that the search results link to the list item, not the attachment itself. If the list item has multiple attachments it can be confusing which one is the one containing the phrase you searched for. Right now I don't have a solution to that.

I hope that clears some stuff up. I apologize for any misinformation I may have spread.



You are not alone!

Also I was very sure that attachments in list items was not crawled, and therefore not searchable. I did a quick test, and surely enough it was searchable! I wish I could find the original source to this misunderstanding.

/Göran Husman
SharePoint MVP
 on 10/14/2008 12:55 PM

Indexing attachments


So attachments to a list are indexed. What happens however to attachments within a document, i.e. embeded documents?
For example if I upload an email to a document library, will the email attachments be crawled to?

 on 11/4/2008 7:20 AM

Re: Indexing attachments

I think this behavior would all depends on how the iFilter handles the document. I don't know if the DOCX iFitler parses attachments or not. Same would go for emails. Not sure if MSG or EML files are parsed for attachments or not.

Todd O. KlindtNo presence information on 11/25/2008 9:00 PM


Is there a way to enable the  "Attachments to list items" on a document library?

 on 7/28/2009 1:39 PM

Re: Indexing attachments

I was very suprised about this as well.
It must have been in an update. Trying to find out which one now. In the mean time, I found this sentence:

After you apply the update, Microsoft Office 2003 files or 2007 Microsoft Office files that are embedded in a 2007 Office document are searchable.

In the description of what's in the infrastructure update. 
 on 1/14/2010 10:42 AM

Infopath forms


I created a form template with some attachment fields in there and I can't find my attachments through search after saving the form. I searched for the some word in the file like you did.

Is that correct or should search be able to find those attachments and return them after searching?

 on 4/26/2010 7:14 AM


Can we search a content in blog ? I mean a single word or something like that
 on 11/10/2010 4:16 AM

Re: Content

You sure can. If you click on any blog post title, that will take you to that post's page. If you go over to search in the upper right you'll see the default scope is "this list." That's the Posts list and you'll be able to search the text of the blog posts.

Todd O. KlindtNo presence information on 11/14/2010 8:25 PM

Re: List attachments are searchable


Are you sure tha you can search attachments that are added in a list item of a custom list. I am sure that attachment added to a list item in a document library gets crawled and searched but the same is not the case with a custom list. Please do confirm on the same

Thanks and Regards,
K. Pradeep
 on 5/23/2011 11:43 AM

List attachments are searchable - same in 2010?

Hi Todd,

Is the same the case for 2010 or can we now get attachment names returned in the search?

Thanks for the article.
 on 6/21/2011 4:51 AM
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