Searching for Non-Primary Data in CiviCRM

One of the questions we occasionally get concerns how users can search for non-primary emails, addresses, and phone numbers in CiviCRM. Because so many constituents use different emails for different purposes - one for billing, one for bulk emails, and so forth - it can become a challenge to locate people in your data. However, we have a couple of suggestions for how you can search across all emails, phone numbers, and addresses.

Option 1: Add Them to Your Search Results

By default, CiviCRM is set to search only primary information. However, this is a very easy thing to change. Go to Administer > Customize Data and Screens > Search Preferences, and find the option labeled “Search Primary Details Only.” (See here if you’d like a visual.) Set that to no, and save.

As a test, I added a contact with two different email addresses: With that search setting defaulted to yes, I searched for the email address boxed in the screenshot, and got no results: Here is the result with the same search, after changing that field to no:

Note that this change unfortunately does not affect the quicksearch at the top left in CiviCRM.

Option 2: Use the Search Builder

If for some reason you prefer not to change the default search settings, you can also use the Search Builder to search for non-primary emails. The Search Builder allows you to search for emails (or phone numbers, or addresses) with specific location types, so you can iterate through your non-primary location types to search as many options as you wish: Note that I used the “also search where” option, which essentially sets this up as an OR search: find contacts where home email is x OR where work email is x OR where billing email is x.

Here you see the result:

If you have a significant number of location types, this search option can be somewhat cumbersome. However, it nevertheless is a good option for finding contact information based on a specific location type (or types).

Have questions about searching in CiviCRM? Feel free to use your support email to ask us - we’re here to help.

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