Get started with the modern search experience

In addition to the classic search experience, SharePoint Online offers a modern search experience. Modern search is a personalized experience. It uses the insights of the Microsoft Graph to show results that are relevant to you. Routine tasks such as finding the right version of a document, getting back to a presentation you were editing, or learning about a topic you are not familiar with by locating experts and content, are simpler and faster with modern search.

As a search administrator, you can’t enable or disable neither classic nor modern search. But you can influence which experience your users see most often.

Users get the classic search experience on publishing sites, classic team sites, and in the Search Center. Users get the modern search experience on the SharePoint start page, hub sites, communication sites, and modern team sites. Learn about classic and modern sites.

Benefits of the modern search experience

Quickly gets you back to what you were doing. Even before you start typing, the search box suggests results based on your most recent work. As you type, the search box updates the suggestions.

Helps you discover new information. Once you press Enter, all search results are presented. Based on your previous activity in Office 365, the search results page shows results in the order that's most relevant to you. For example, files by people you work with will typically rank higher than files by other people.

Lets you explore results without leaving search. You can for example browse through a presentation directly in the search results page and quickly assess if it's the right result.

The modern search results page is mobile friendly.

Modern search offers a great experience without a search administrator configuring anything. Learn more about the modern search experience for users.

We’ll continue to invest in modern search, but not in classic search. Learn what’s coming next for modern search.

Users can only find content that’s been indexed. Modern search uses the same index as classic search, so if your organization already uses classic search you don’t have to act. Otherwise, follow guidance in Make sure content can be found.

As a search administrator you don’t have to configure modern search, the modern search boxes appear on the SharePoint start page and modern sites by default.

You can customize the classic search experience, for example by adding custom refiners to the search results page or displaying a certain type of result differently. You can’t customize the modern search experience like that but note that some of the customizations you make for classic search also impact modern search. Learn how modern search is impacted.

When to use which search experience?

Which experience your users see depends on whether your organization mostly uses classic or modern sites. Classic sites have classic search boxes and modern sites have modern search boxes. If you believe that modern search gives your users the best experience, influence your organization to start using modern sites. In addition, promote searching from the SharePoint start page (modern search) to your users.

Should you use the Search Center or the SharePoint start page as your portal?

If you need custom refiners or search verticals for organization-specific content, or you need to display results for organization-specific content differently than other content. Use the Search Center (classic search) as your portal. If not, we recommend promoting the SharePoint start page (modern search) to your users.

Is the search experience impacted if you migrate from classic to modern sites?

Yes, if you have customized search. A classic site has a classic search box. For example, you’ve set up the search box to redirect to a custom Search Center in order show results that are filtered and formatted for organization-specific content types. The modern site has a modern search box. You can't customize the modern search experience. If you don’t need to customize search, we recommend using modern sites.

Can users search across all sites of an administrative unit?

It’s possible, but it takes some effort to do this with classic search. It's better to use a hub site to organize the sites. Hub sites use modern search boxes, which are scoped to search for news, people, files, and sites across all the sites that are associated with the hub. Learn more about hub sites.

Yes. With cloud hybrid search, both on-premises and online content go into the same index, which both the classic and modern search experiences use.