(Credit: Slack)


In the days before Gmail, we sorted our email messages into labeled folders. But Gmail arrived with Google's potent search engine built right in, making folders virtually unnecessary.

Slack, the instant messaging platform that's developed a major presence in the business sector, is getting increasingly hip to the power of search, and it's just announced better personalization in search results to locate specific messages, coworkers, and files. This update is rolling out "over the next few weeks," according to Slack, so don't fret if you don't see it yet.

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When you get the update, you will see an expanded view when you select a search result. As before, there are separate tabs for messages and files, but the file section has gotten some interesting search result filters.

On the Files tab, you can ask Slack to search within a specific channel, search for a specific file type, and/or search for a specific user. As you select these different filters, the search results to the left will change pretty much instantly to reflect your changes.

As before, Slack will also search as you type, but now it will more intelligently prioritize the messages, files, and people that you appear to be looking for. So the new search window will surface not just recent messages and files but also the other users whom you communicate with the most. Not only does Slack's file search recognize the names of files that you've shared, but Slack can also scan the contents of a document for the keyword that you seek.

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How the expanded search view makes the Slack app better

This new search system allows you to start your search with a single keyword and then narrow it down with a few clicks, which may help users who struggle with figuring out the right set of keywords to find what they're looking for. And before this update to Slack's search tools, getting to the correct results could take quite a number of clicks.

So by pre-selecting what's most likely to be relevant to you, Slack can take friction out of your workflow in proportion to how much you use it. If Slack is your main office tool for messaging and sharing work files, then its new expanded search view may save you a boatload of time.

The company says, "As you and your teams continue to use Slack to collaborate and share information, you'll find that your search results get smarter and smarter, pulling in channels, messages, and files that matter most to you."

The takeaways

  1. Slack is facing steady competition from Microsoft Teams, Workplace by Facebook, and other business-oriented messaging platforms. Companies are willing to pay big money to use these services, and as Google taught us, a quick and accurate search tool can transform the way you use an app and elevate it above its rivals. Likewise, a bad search tool can send your users running into their arms.
  2. If you don't see the expanded search view feature yet, don't worry -- it's getting rolled out in stages to different groups of users over the next few weeks.

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Tom is the senior editor covering Windows at Download.com.