Facebook’s search function is one of the most powerful tools available on the web. In fact, many people say it’s second only to Google’s in terms of usefulness. You can use it to search for people, groups, topics and more. To find out how, check out this handy guide.

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1. Predictive search

Start typing a name into the Facebook search bar, and it’ll automatically suggest friends of yours who match the name. Which makes finding someone a cinch, especially if you can’t remember their surname.

2. Use Find Friends

Trying to track down a long-lost friend or colleague? Facebook can help. In the web version of Facebook, click the icon of two silhouetted people in the top-right corner. A drop-down menu will appear with some suggestions. On the right-hand side (just below where you clicked the silhouette icon) is the Search for Friends section. This lets you search by name, but also input their home town, schools, university, mutual friends and employers. So as long as you know a bit about them – and they’re on Facebook – they should be fairly easy to track down.

3. Use the search bar

Once you’ve searched for someone, you can sort the search results based on their town/city, education, work and mutual friends. You can also filter the results by your own friends, close friends, friends of your friends, or friends of one particular friend.

4. By likes

Want to target only your friends who like a particular band or film? Facebook lets you search by what your friends have liked, be it a politician, organisation, brand of chocolate bar, whatever. Just type “Friends who like…” into the search bar, followed by a subject. From there, you can filter by people, photos, pages, and so on. And they thought you’d never find out about their love of Justin Bieber.

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5. Find groups

Whatever your interests, there’s bound to be a Facebook group dedicated to it. And finding one is a doddle. In the left sidebar, click Groups. This will show groups that Facebook suggests for you, based on your activity on the social network. You can also browse by friends’ groups, local groups and new groups, and search for groups by keyword using Facebook’s Graph Search.

6. Find a post within a group

Once you’ve found a group, you might want to see a particular post within it. Select your group, and click Search this group on the left-hand side of the page. Then just enter names or keywords that appear within the post you’re looking for. Hey presto, you’ll easily track down that recipe you were trying to find.

7. Find news

Facebook is now one of the most-used news sources in the world. To search for news about a particular topic, use phrases like “links about…”, “posts about…” or “news about…” followed by a topic or person.

8. Find your own activity

You can also see what you’ve been up to over the years. Just head to Facebook’s Activity Log and you’ll see a timeline of everything you’ve done and been tagged in on the social network. If there’s a particular event you want to relive, type something in the Activity Search bar in the top right and you’ll be able to scour your history to find it.

9. Find games and music

Farmville, Candy Crush, Words with Friends… there’s no end of fun time-wasting games available on Facebook. Musicians also often post their new singles and music videos on the social network. To find them, just type the name or related search term into the search bar. You’ll never be bored again.

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