If you work in news, you'll know that moment when news breaks and an editor or someone calls out to you 'Quick, what's Twitter doing??' and you throw yourself at your keyboard, hurriedly trying to find the best content quickly.

If you've tried to do this using Twitter's search page in its most basic form, you'll know that the process can be quite frustrating. But what a lot of people aren't aware of is a powerful set of search operators you can use to quickly hone your search based on geography, timeliness and content.

The following is based on Twitter's search tips here.

Image courtesy  Twitter

Image courtesy Twitter

Pretty simple, right? With only a few operators, you can hone your search incredibly quickly.

My two favourites:

  • Use filter:links when searching for visual content (images, videos) from the scene. This operator will only pull up tweets with URLs in them.
  • Use near: and the partner within:XYkm to search based on location. (e.g. within:15km)

But wait....there's more.

Power Boost: Combining Operators

Here's where the fun REALLY starts. Let's have a look at some practical examples.

Scenario: A train has crashed into a railway station in the Brisbane suburb of Cleveland (True event). 

Cleveland near:Brisbane filter:links – this will bring tweets sent near Brisbane that contain the word Cleveland and contain links. 


“engine fault” lang:en since:2013-02-01 filter:links – This would pull up any tweets containing the phrase “engine fault”, sent since 1st February this year, in English and containing links.

Extra Power Boost: Monitoring your search in real time

This is where Tweetdeck as a management tool for Twitter on your desktop really comes into its own.

Either in the web version, or in the latest desktop version, simply put your search exactly as you wrote it, including operators, into Tweetdeck's search bar, then hit Add Column. Voila, your search now becomes a constantly refreshing column, alerting you when new content is posted.


This is another way to build a column in Tweetdeck if you don't want to use a list, especially if you're working at speed.

For example, you might quickly want to build a search pulling in tweets from a series of news accounts around a certain search term.

israel from:abcnews OR from:bbcbreaking OR from:reuters - This would pull in any tweets from these three accounts (note you don't put the @ in) containing the word Israel.


Still want more? For Tweetdeck geeks, I also recommend this detailed guide by Storyful's Felim McMahon.

Have I missed anything? Questions? Got more Twitter search tips? Drop them in the comments below.