Should papers in child folders also be included in search results of parent folders?

As far as I can tell this topic has not been discussed, but I could be wrong.

I would expect, when searching in a parent folder, that the search results would also return papers in child folders as well.

Clearly it is convenient to use both tags and folders to organize papers (proven by the existence by both in this and many other similar software tools). Given that a child folder is automatically related to a parent folder it seems like the results of a search in a parent folder should also include those of the same search in the child folders.

Two thoughts:

  1. Some may not want this behavior for some reason (i’m not sure why, but that is why I am bringing this up and they aren’t) – but this could easily be fixed by some kind of setting (`return matches from child folders’ or something like that)
  2. Maybe the results could be clearly marked as from a child folder it that is important to someone.

In my opinion when I search I want more results not less. I want to focus on the main folder for the project I am working on and be able to search all papers within it. I don’t want to have to remember which child folder (or possibly grand-child folder) the paper might be contained in.

Currently to bypass the limitation I perform searches in the `All Papers’ view, but that can sometimes get very messy due to the overall size of my library.


I 100% agree with you, this issue has frustrated me and my team significantly. Search should also happen across shared folders.


So, it is possible to “shift” select multiple folders, for example parent and children, but shift-clicking is an AND operation and so papers that appear have to be in all of the selected folders.

Maybe if there were an option to switch between AND and OR everything would be fixed?

Sorry, this is currently a technical limitation.

Any chance in addressing the technical limitations?

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No, I’m afraid not. It’s about how our database index and filter works. It’s not something we can change at the moment.

Can you at least point to clear documentation about how folders and subfolders function and how to work with them labels and folder contents?

After some playing around, it appears that the subfolder-folder relationship does nothing beyond ordering the folders in a directory tree for browsing. Is that right?

And the functions for finding papers redundantly contained in multiple folders (or subfolders) and adding/removing folders or labels as needed seem to be pretty good.

Threads like this one that just say, “Sorry, you can’t do that” without pointing to good documentation about what you can do don’t give people a warm feeling about the software.

After some playing around, it appears that the subfolder-folder relationship does nothing beyond ordering the folders in a directory tree for browsing. Is that right?

Yes, that’s correct.

Sorry for the limited docs at this point. We are working on a comprehensive “Knowledge base” to document the complete product.

And we are also thinking about the main question of this thread what’s the best behaviour and how to implement it efficiently.

I’d like to support this request. Items in a sub-folder are essentially a subset of the broader topic. Making them visible when selecting a parent folder would provide a powerful means of ‘drilling down’ into a topic.


I’d also like to add a vote for the behaviour that all items in child folders appear in parent folders (both on view of the parent, and on search within the parent). Thanks!

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Can this be addressed now that it’s been a couple of years?

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Thanks for the bump, @Andrea_Jenney1. This has been on our radar since then; we’ve actually recently been working on advanced search features which will also improve folder search. Updates of our extension and web-app UI will be released soon and these search improvements won’t be far behind.


Thank you, it would be a huge improvement if we just could search all subfolders recursively. I am trying to nudge my team towards Paperpile and not having this feature could be a dealbreaker.
Do you have a roadmap when this feature could be available? I have to present Paperpile on December 16.

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