Use Twitter's search operators to find specific tweets

Trying to find something specific on Twitter? There's a more efficient way to find specific information; you just need the help of Twitter's search operators. Read on to find out how to use them.

Nicole Cozma
Nicole Cozma has an affinity for Android apps and devices, but loves technology in general. Based out of the Tampa Bay Area, she enjoys being a spectator to both sunsets and lightning storms.
Nicole Cozma

Nicole Cozma/CNET

Twitter search can be used to follow breaking news stories such as natural disasters, politics, sports or technology announcements. But what if you want to see tweets on a given subject by a specific person, or on a specific date? In that case, you can use a search operator.

Search operators are simply a method of searching when looking for very specific results. As an example, if you're looking for CNET's tweets about the iPhone 6 launch day, you'd type this in the search box:

"iphone 6" from:cnet since:2014-09-09 until:2014-09-10

Here is a list of supported search operators on Twitter.com. This left column gives you an example of the type of search you can make. The right column shows you what type of results to expect.

OperatorFinds tweets...
twitter search containing both "twitter" and "search". This is the default operator.
"happy hour" containing the exact phrase "happy hour".
love OR hate containing either "love" or "hate" (or both).
beer -root containing "beer" but not "root".
#haiku containing the hashtag "haiku".
from:alexiskold sent from person "alexiskold".
to:techcrunch sent to person "techcrunch".
@mashable referencing person "mashable".
"happy hour" near:"san francisco" containing the exact phrase "happy hour" and sent near "san francisco".
near:NYC within:15mi sent within 15 miles of "NYC".
superhero since:2010-12-27 containing "superhero" and sent since date "2010-12-27" (year-month-day).
ftw until:2010-12-27 containing "ftw" and sent up to date "2010-12-27".
movie -scary :) containing "movie", but not "scary", and with a positive attitude.
flight :( containing "flight" and with a negative attitude.
traffic ? containing "traffic" and asking a question.
hilarious filter:links containing "hilarious" and linking to URLs.
news source:twitterfeed containing "news" and entered via TwitterFeed

As an alternative, you could use the advanced search tool Twitter offers on its website, but getting to that search tool requires a few extra steps. You first have to search for something, then click on advanced search, and then make your query.

However, by memorizing a few of the Twitter search operators you can find the information you want directly from the search box on any Twitter page.

What do you look for most often on Twitter? Share one of your favorite searches (let's keep it safe for work, please) in the comments.