Tip #178: Do you know what a wildcard is?

From time to time I discover that not everyone on this planet knows what the wildcard is or how to use it. Just the other day I overheard a conversation between two [reasonably advanced] business users that went along the lines:

I was looking for this guy in our CRM but couldn’t find him. I remember his name has “Dumble” in it but I’m not sure if we recorded Dumbledore or van Dumbledwarf or something else. But I learned how to use OR condition in Advanced Find so I’ll use that to locate his record.


Just type *dumble into the search box.

When you use asterisk in your search string it acts as a wildcard, i.e. it means any number of any characters. Simple yet infinitely useful. Few things to remember:

  • You can use any number of asterisks mixed with characters. For example, if you forgot the area code and are unsure if phone number was formatted as 80238029 or 8023 8029, just type *8023*8029 – that will cover for any area code and any characters (or none) separating the numbers. Going wild, as in *8*0*2*3*8*0*2*9, will cover pretty much any formatting. Beware that wildcard matches digits as well so you may accidentally match (802)36668029, for example.
  • Wildcard at the end of the string is implied, i.e. there is no difference between searching for *Lebowski or *Lebowski*, both will find “Big Lebowski, The Dude” just fine (including “Small Lebowski, Not The Dude” in the process).
  • Wildcard can be used in any search box including quick find, search box in lookup dialogs and lookup control itself – just type *sample in any account lookup field, press tab and let lookahead feature to figure out if you have any accounts with a word sample in the name!
  • It will apply to all attributes selected for search in quick search system view definition. Type *@microsoft.com to quickly find all contacts with email address from Microsoft.
  • As with any potent weapon, experimenting is the best way to learn how to use the wildcard efficiently.

One thought on “Tip #178: Do you know what a wildcard is?

  1. Chase Muschong says:

    I do not understand why this isn’t a native action of searching.

    How do I setup the search bar to always search as if I have put an asterisk in front of my search?

    I’m thinking maybe there is an inspect element change I could complete that would do this?

    Any help is appreciated.

    Thank you.

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