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by Benjamin Niaulin
Benjamin Niaulin

SharePoint 2013 Search Settings and Search drop down menu

Something that should have been simple with SharePoint 2013, gave me a little more trouble than I expected. I saw what I thought would be an easy problem to solve. Someone was asking how he could remove the "Conversations" from the Search Box drop down menu.

SharePoint 2013 Search Settings and the Search Box drop down menu

In SharePoint 2013, these are no longer called Search Scopes but Result Sources. A Result Source, as Microsoft puts it: 

"You create and use a result source to specify a location to get search results from, and to specify a protocol for getting those results."

Kind of like a combination of Federated Search and Scopes. However, Result Sources also allow applying Query Transforms that allow you to restrict the type of content you want returned (conversations, documents, videos, etc…).

Thought it would be easy

Naturally, having experience with SharePoint 2007 and SharePoint 2010, the first thing I did was to go to the Site Settings and see if I could change the Search Scopes or in this case Result Sources and choose the ones I wanted in the drop down menu of the search box.

Here is what it looked like in SharePoint 2010, the Search Scopes setting under Site Collection Administration of the Site Settings:
SharePoint 2013 Search Settings and the Search Box drop down menu

Pretty simple, check or uncheck and choose the position from the top.

Well, it changed in SharePoint 2013.

Adding the drop down to the search box

To be able to remove the “Conversations” result source from the drop down menu, first I need to have it available. I decided to create a new Site Collection from scratch using the Team Site Template and this is what I got for the search.
SharePoint 2013 Search Settings and the Search Box drop down menu

There is no Search drop down menu on by default (well in my case, I’ll explain later).

The first thing I did was to look at the Search Settings page that is located under the Site Collection Administration of the Site Settings.
SharePoint 2013 Search Settings and the Search Box drop down menu

And I found myself on this confusing page:
SharePoint 2013 Search Settings and the Search Box drop down menu

I am at the Site Collection Search Settings level and it has an already checked option that says, “Use the same results page settings as my parent”.

You could imagine my initial reaction…

Let’s explain the SharePoint 2013 Search Settings

After a few trials of my own, because at this point there was nothing I could find online, I finally figured it out.

There are 3 levels of Search Settings that can be managed. This is what the check box is referring to when it is mentioning the results page of the parent.

Global:

From the Central Administration, the administrators can set the Global Search Center Location. This URL will be used to provide a Search Center to any Site Collection Search Settings that uses the "same as parent".

SharePoint 2013 Search Settings and the Search Box drop down menu

"Ah Ha!" Moment

At this point, we can understand that the checked option "Use the same results page settings as my parent" is really referring to the "Search Center URL".

**As soon as there is a Search Center URL defined, your Search Box gets the drop down menu with the default Result Sources**

Site Collection:

Then we have what we are more accustomed to, settings at the Site Collection Level. By default, it is set to use the same settings as the parent. This means if you set a Search Center URL at the Search Service Application level, or what I called Global earlier, that’s the URL that will be used automatically. But you can actually override the global setting and put your own for the Site Collection.

SharePoint 2013 Search Settings and the Search Box drop down menu

Site Level:

Finally, we can override the Site Collection settings above with the Search Settings at the Site Level.

SharePoint 2013 Search Settings and the Search Box drop down menu

This one will also allow you to change the drop down menu by adding "navigation links". These are basically hyperlinks to a Search Results page that already has the Result Source configured.

SharePoint 2013 Search Settings and the Search Box drop down menu

What happens once we specify a Search Center URL

As I mentioned, as soon as the Site, Site Collection or Service Application has a Search Center URL defined, then the Search Box gets a dropdown.
SharePoint 2013 Search Settings and the Search Box drop down menu

By setting it at the Site Collection level, all the sites within my Site Collection inherited this Search Box. My goal was to remove "Conversations" though. What we did so far is understand how the settings work to understand the impacts of our architecture and settings.

The catch

This is where I was shocked to be unable to find a solution. The thing is, as soon as you configure the Search Settings at the Site level to use the navigation, it replaces the default drop down for that site only. Yes, for that site only. I hope someone will tell me I am wrong.

My root site is currently using the Site Collection Search Settings with a link to the Search Center. As we saw, this created a drop down menu in my Search Box.

Now, I will go to my root site’s Search Settings to configure and use a Result Source. The thing is, you can’t specify that, it only allows you to manage "hyperlinks" to Search Pages with the Search Results configured to use the appropriate Result Source.
SharePoint 2013 Search Settings and the Search Box drop down menu

What happened as soon as I pressed on ok?
SharePoint 2013 Search Settings and the Search Box drop down menu

My Search drop down is gone and I am now using my custom navigation to forward the search query to the URL I had specified.

I have to mention that no sub sites inherited from this change because the root site is not considered as the "parent" for the search settings it seems, the Site Collection search settings is.

My Conclusion

First, I hope I am wrong and someone will tell me I just didn’t see the settings to quickly and easily add one of the Result Sources in the drop down for people to filter the search by. It could be I am simply not used to this new search architecture and what I am trying to do simply doesn’t make sense.

The Search Center drives the search; I have to configure all the result sources there on difference Search Result Pages. Then, I can have individual sites change the search drop down menu to show hyperlinks to my Search Center result pages.

As for the final solution to our initial problem

Well, from what I have learned I will have to change the Search Settings at the Site level to create my own drop down menu using Search Navigation. All I will have to do is re-create the "Everything" and "People" links. Success! No more "Conversations" search. Well, until someone goes to a sub site.
Therefore, I have to export my site search settings and import it to every site I want this available. Lastly, and this is very important, I must configure the Search Settings of the Search Center site to remove the link from the navigation as well.

*update* Someone just reminded me on twitter, I lose the "Search This Site" context by adding these new ones. I'll be working on a post to add it back soon.

by Benjamin Niaulin
Benjamin Niaulin
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