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Search assets in AEM

You can achieve higher content velocity using user-friendly asset discovery options in Experience Manager. Your teams can reduce time to market with seamless, intelligent search experience using out-of-the-box functionality and custom methods. Searching assets is central to the usage of a digital asset management system -- be it for further use by creatives, for robust management of assets by the business users and marketers, or for administration by DAM administrators. Simple, advanced, and custom searches that you can perform via AEM Assets user interface or other apps and surfaces help fulfill these use cases.
AEM supports the following use cases and this article describes the usage, concepts, configurations, limitations, and troubleshooting for these use cases.
Search assets
Configuration and administration
Work with search results
Search assets using the Omnisearch field at the top of the AEM web interface. Go to Assets > Files in AEM, click in top bar, enter search keyword, and press return. Alternatively, use the keyword shortcut / (forward slash) to open the Omnisearch field. Location:Assets is pre-selected to limit the searches to DAM assets. You can do advanced searches to increase or limit the scope of search .
Use the Filters panel to search for assets, folders, tags, and metadata. You can filter search results based on the various options (predicates), such as, file type, file size, last modified date, status of asset, insights data, and Adobe Stock licensing. You can customize the Filters panel and add/remove search predicates using search facets .
AEM search capability supports searching for collections and searching for assets within a collection. See search collections .

Understand search interface

Familiarize yourself with the search interface and the available actions.
Figure: Understanding parts of Assets search results interface
A. Save the search as a Smart Collection. B. Filters (predicates) to narrow the search results. C. Display Files, Folders, or both in the search results. D. Click Filters to open or close the left rail. E. Search location is DAM. F. Omnisearch field with user-provided search keyword G. Check box to select all the search results H. Number of displayed search results out of the total search results I. Close the search J. Switch between card view and list view

Dynamic search facets

You can discover the desired assets faster from the search results page using the dynamically updated number of expected search results in the search facets. The expected number of assets are updated even before applying the search filter. Seeing the expected count against the filter helps you navigate through the search results quickly and efficiently. For more info, see Search assets in AEM .
See the approximate number of assets without filtering search results in search facets.

Search suggestions as you type

When you start typing a keyword, AEM suggests the possible search keywords or phrases. The suggestions are based on the assets in AEM. AEM indexes all the metadata fields to help with search. To provide search suggestions, the system uses the values of the following few metadata fields. To provide search suggestions, consider populating the following fields with appropriate keywords:
  • Asset tags. (maps to jcr:content/metadata/cq:tags )
  • Asset title. (maps to jcr:content/metadata/dc:title )
  • Asset description. (maps to jcr:content/metadata/dc:description )
  • Title in the JCR repository. The value may get mapped to Asset title. (maps to jcr:content/jcr:title )
  • Description in the JCR repository. The value may get mapped to Asset description. (maps to jcr:content/jcr:description )

Understand search results and behavior

Basic search terms and results

You can run keyword searches from the OmniSearch field. The keyword search is not case sensitive and is a full-text search (across the popular metadata fields). If more than one keyword is used, AND is the default operator between the keywords. The results are sorted by relevance, starting with closest matches. For multiple keywords, more relevant results are the assets that contain both terms in their metadata. Within metadata, keywords appearing as smart tags are higher ranked than keywords appearing in other metadata fields.
AEM allows giving a particular search term higher weight. Also, it is possible to boost the rank of a few targeted assets for specific search terms. AEM administrators can do these configurations as described below.
To quickly find the relevant assets, the rich interface provides filtering, sorting, and selection mechanisms. You can filter results based on multiple criteria and see number of searched assets for various filters. Alternatively, you can rerun search by changing the query in the Omnisearch field. When you change your search terms or filters, the other filters remain applied to preserve your search's context.
At times, you may see some unexpected assets in the search results. For more info, see unexpected results .
AEM can search many file formats and the search filters can be customized to suit your business requirements. Contact your administrators for understand what search options are made available for your DAM repository and what restrictions your login may have.

Search ranking and boosting

The search results that match all search terms in metadata fields are displayed first, followed by the search results that match any of the search terms in the smart tags. In the above example, the approximate order of display of search results is:
  1. Matches of woman running in the various metadata fields.
  2. Matches of woman running in smart tags.
  3. Matches of woman or of running in smart tags.
You can improve the relevance of keywords for particular assets to help boost searches based on the keywords. In other words, the images for which you promote specific keywords appear at the top of the search results when you search based on these keywords.
  1. From the Assets user interface, open the properties page for the asset. Click Advanced and click/tap Add under Elevate for search keywords .
  2. In the Search Promote box, specify a keyword for which you want to boost the search for the image and then click/tap Add . You can specify multiple keywords in the same way.
  3. Click Save & Close . The asset which you promoted for this keyword appears among the top search results.
You can use this to your advantage by boosting the rank of some assets in the search results for the targeted keyword. See the example video below. For detailed info, see search in AEM .

Video: Understand how search results are ranked and how the rank can be influenced.

Advanced search

AEM provides various methods like filters that apply to the searched assets, to help you locate the desired assets faster. A few commonly used methods are described below. Some illustrated examples are shared below.
Search for files or folders : In the search results, see either files, folders, or both. From Filters panel, you can select the appropriate option. See search interface .
Search for assets within a folder : You can limit the search to a specific folder. In the Filters panel, add path of a folder. You can select only one folder at a time.
Limit search results to a folder by adding a folder path in Filters panel

Adobe Stock images

From within the AEM user interface, users can search Adobe Stock assets and license the required assets. Add Location: Adobe Stock in the Omnisearch bar. You can also use Filters panel to find all the licensed or unlicensed assets or search a specific asset using Adobe Stock file number.

Dynamic Media assets

You can filter for Dynamic Media images by selecting Dynamic Media > Sets from the Filters panel. It filters and displays assets such as image sets, carousels, mixed media sets, and spin sets.

Search using specific values in metadata fields

You can for assets based on exact values of specific metadata fields, such as, title, description, and author. The GQL full-text search feature fetches only those assets whose metadata value exactly matches your search query. The names of the properties (for example author, title, and so on) and the values are case-sensitive.
Metadata field
Facet value and usage
Title
title:John
Creator
creator:John
Location
location:NA
Description
description:"Sample Image"
Creator tool
creatortool:"Adobe Photoshop CC 2015"
Copyright Owner
copyrightowner:"Adobe Systems"
Contributor
contributor:John
Usage Terms
usageterms:"CopyRights Reserved"
Created
created:YYYY-MM-DDTHH
Expires Date
expires:YYYY-MM-DDTHH
On time
ontime:YYYY-MM-DDTHH
Off time
offtime:YYYY-MM-DDTHH
Range of time(expires dateontime,offtime)
facet field : lowerbound..upperbound
Path
/content/dam/<folder name>
PDF Title
pdftitle:"Adobe Document"
Subject
subject:"Training"
Tags
tags:"Location And Travel"
Type
type:"image\png"
Width of image
width:lowerbound..upperbound
Height of image
height:lowerbound..upperbound
Person
person:John
The properties path, limit, size, and orderby cannot be ORed with any other property.
The keyword for a user-generated property is its field label in the property editor in lowercase, with spaces removed.
Here are some examples of search formats for complex queries:
  • To display all assets with multiple facets fields (for example: title=John Doe and creator tool = Adobe Photoshop): title:"John Doe" creatortool : Adobe*
  • To display all assets when the facets value is not a single word but a sentence (for example: title=Scott Reynolds): title:"Scott Reynolds"
  • To display assets with multiple values of a single property (for example: title=Scott Reynolds or John Doe): title:"Scott Reynolds" OR "John Doe"
  • To display assets with property values starting with a specific string (for example: title is Scott Reynolds): title:Scott*
  • To display assets with property values ending with a specific string (for example: title is Scott Reynolds): title:*Reynolds
  • To display assets with a property value that contains a specific string (for example: title = Basel Meeting Room): title:*Meeting*
  • To display assets that contain a particular string and have a specific property value (for example: search for string Adobe in assets having title=John Doe): *Adobe* title:"John Doe"

Search assets from other AEM offerings or interfaces

Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) connects DAM repository to various other AEM solutions to provide faster access to digital assets and streamline the creative workflows. Any asset discovery starts with browse or search. The search behavior largely remains the same across the various surfaces and solutions. Some search methods change as the target audience, the use cases, and the user interface vary across the AEM solutions. The specific methods are documented for the individual solutions at the links below. The universally applicable tips and behaviors are documented in this article.

Search assets from Adobe Asset Link panel

Using Adobe Asset Link, the creative professionals can now access content stored in AEM Assets, without leaving the supported Adobe Creative Cloud apps. Creatives can seamlessly browse, search, check out, and check in assets using the in-app panel in the Creative Cloud apps: Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. Asset Link also allows users to search visually similar results. The visual search display results are powered by Adobe Sensei's machine learning algorithms and help users find aesthetically similar images. See search and browse assets using Adobe Asset Link.

Search assets in AEM desktop app

Creative professionals use the desktop app to make the AEM Assets easily searchable and available on their local desktop (Win or Mac). Creatives can easily reveal the desired assets in Mac Finder or Windows Explorer, opened in desktop applications, and changed locally - the changes are saved back to AEM with a new version created in the repository. The application supports basic searches using one or more keywords, * and ? wildcards, and AND operator. See browse, search, and preview assets in desktop app.

Search assets in Brand Portal

Line-of-business users and marketers use Brand Portal to efficiently and securely share the approved digital assets with their extended internal teams, partners, and resellers. See search assets on Brand Portal .

Search Adobe Stock images

From within the AEM user interface, users can search Adobe Stock assets and license the required assets. Add Location: Adobe Stock in the Omnisearch field. You can also use Filters panel to find all the licensed or unlicensed assets or search a specific asset using Adobe Stock file number. See manage Adobe Stock images in AEM .

Search Dynamic Media assets

You can filter for Dynamic Media images by selecting Dynamic Media > Sets from the Filters panel. It filters and displays assets such as image sets, carousels, mixed media sets, and spin sets. While authoring web pages, the authors can search for sets from within the Content Finder. A filter for sets is available in a pop-up menu.

Search assets in Content Finder when authoring web pages

Authors can use Content Finder to search the DAM repository for the relevant assets and use the assets in the web pages they create.

Search collections

AEM search capability supports searching for collections and searching for assets within a collection. See search collections .

Asset selector

Asset selector lets you search, filter, and browse the DAM assets in a special way. Asset selector is available at https://[aem_server]:[port]/aem/assetpicker.html . You can fetch the metadata of assets that you select using the asset selector. You can launch it with supported request parameters, such as asset type (image, video, text) and selection mode (single or multiple selections). These parameters set the context of the asset selector for a particular search instance and remains intact throughout the selection.
The asset selector uses the HTML5 Window.postMessage message to send data for the selected asset to the recipient. The asset selector is based on Granite's foundation picker vocabulary. By default, the asset selector operates in Browse mode.
You can pass the following request parameters in a URL to launch the asset selector in a particular context:
Name
Values
Example
Purpose
resource suffix (B)
Folder path as the resource suffix in the URL: https://localhost:4502/aem/assetpicker.html/<folder_path>
To launch the asset selector with a particular folder selected, for example with the folder /content/dam/we-retail/en/activities, selected, the URL should be of the form: https://localhost:4502/aem/assetpicker.html/content/dam/we-retail/en/activities?assettype=images
If you require a particular folder to be selected when the asset selector is launched, passed it as a resource suffix.
mode
single, multiple
In multiple mode, you can select several assets simultaneously using the asset selector.
mimetype
mimetype(s) ( /jcr:content/metadata/dc:format ) of an asset (wildcard also supported)
Use it to filter assets based on MIME type(s)
dialog
true, false
Use these parameters to open the asset selector as Granite Dialog. This option is only applicable when you launch the asset selector through Granite Path Field, and configure it as pickerSrc URL.
assettype (S)
images, documents, multimedia, archives
Use this option to filter asset types based on the value passed.
root
<folder_path>
Use this option to specify the root folder for the asset selector. In this case, the asset selector lets you select only child assets (direct/indirect) under the root folder.
To access the asset selector interface, go to https://[AEM server]:[port]/aem/assetpicker . Navigate to the desired folder, and select one or more assets. Alternatively, search for the desired asset from the Omnisearch box, apply filter as required, and then select it.
Figure: Browse and select asset in the asset picker.

Limitations

The search capability in AEM Assets has the following limitations:
  • Do not enter a leading space in the search query otherwise the search does not work.
  • AEM may continue to show the search term after you select properties of an asset from searched results and then cancel the search (CQ-4273540).
  • When searching for folders or files and folders, the search results cannot be sorted on any parameter.
  • If you press return without tying anything in Omnisearch bar, AEM returns a list of only files and not folders. If you search specifically for folders without using a keyword, AEM does not return any results.
Visual search or similarity search has the following limitations:
  • Visual search works best with larger repositories. While there is no minimum number of images required for good results, the quality of matches with a few images may not be as good as the matches from a large repository.
  • You cannot change the model or train AEM to find similar images. For example, adding or removing smart tags to a few assets does not change the model. The assets do get excluded from the visually similar search results.

Search tips

  • When monitoring the review status of assets, use the appropriate option to find which assets are approved or assets that are pending approval.
  • Use the Insights predicate to search for supported assets based on their usage statistics obtained from various Creative apps. Usage data is grouped under Usage score, Impressions, Clicks, and Media channels where the assets appear categories.
  • Use check box to select all the search results or the filtered search results to operate on the selection. It selects all searched assets irrespective of how many assets are displayed in the current user view. For example, you can download all the selected assets, update metadata properties in bulk for all the selected assets, or add selected assets to a Collection.
  • To search for assets that do not contain the mandatory metadata, see mandatory metadata .
  • Search uses all metadata fields. A generic search, such as searching for 12, usually returns many results. For better results, use double (not single) quotes or ensure that the number is contiguous to a word without a special character (for example shoe12 ).
  • Full-text search supports operators such as - and ^ . To search these letters as string literals, enclose the search expression in double quotes. For example, use "Notebook - Beauty" instead of Notebook - Beauty .
  • If the search results are too many, limit the scope of search to zero-in on the desired assets. It works best when you have some idea of how to better look for the desired assets, for example, specific file type, specific location, specific metadata, and so on.
  • Tagging : Tags helps you categorize assets that can be browsed and searched more efficiently. Tagging helps in propagating the appropriate taxonomy to other users and workflows. AEM offers methods to automatically tag assets using Adobe Sensei's artificially intelligent services that keep getting better at tagging your assets with usage and training. When you search for assets, the smart tags are factored in if the feature is enabled on your account. It works alongside the in-built search functionality. See search behavior . To optimize the order in which the search results are displayed, you can boost the search ranking of a few select assets.
  • Indexing : Only indexed metadata and assets are returned in the search results. For better coverage and performance, ensure proper indexing and follow the best practices. See indexing .

Some examples illustrating search

Use double quotations around keywords to find assets that contain the exact phrase in the exact order as specified by the user.
Figure: Search behavior with and without quotation marks.
Search with asterisk wildcard : To broaden the search, use an asterisk before or after the search word to match any number of characters. For example, searching for run without an asterisk does not return assets containing any variation of the word (including in the metadata). An asterisk substitutes for any number of characters. For example,
  • run returns assets with exactly run keyword
  • run* returns assets with running, run, runaway, and so on.
  • *run returns outrun, rerun, and so on.
  • *run* returns all possible combinations.
Figure: Illustrating use of asterisk wildcard in Asset search using an example.
Search with question mark wildcard : To broaden the search, use one or more '?' characters to match exact number of characters. For example, in the following illustration,
  • run??? query does not match any asset.
  • run???? query matches the word running with four characters after run .
  • ??run query matches the word rerun with two characters before run .
Figure: Illustrating use of question mark wildcard in Asset search using an example.
Exclude a keyword : Use dash to search for assets that do not contain a keyword. For example, running -shoe query returns assets that contain running , but not shoe . Similarly, camp -night query returns assets that contain camp but not night . Note that camp-night query returns assets that contain both camp and night .
Figure: Use of dash to search for assets not containing an excluded keyword

Work with asset search results

Once you see some searched assets that match your criteria, you can do the following typical tasks with or take the following actions on these search results:
  • View metadata properties and other information.
  • Download one or more assets.
  • Use Desktop Actions to open these assets in the desktop app.
  • Create smart collections.

Sort search results

Sorting search results helps you to discover required asset faster. Sorting search results works in list view and only when you select Files from the Filters panel. Assets uses server-side sorting to quickly sort all the assets (howsoever numerous) within a folder or results of a search query. Server-side sorting provides faster and more accurate results than client-side sorting.
In list view, you can sort the search results just as you can sort assets in any folder. Sorting works on these columns -- Name, Title, Status, Dimensions, Size, Rating, Usage, (Date) Created, (Date) Modified, (Date) Published, Workflow, and Checked out.
For limitations of sort functionality, see limitations .

Check detailed information of an asset

You can check detailed information of a searched assets from the search result page.
To see all metadata of an asset, select the asset and click properties from the toolbar.
To check the comments on an asset or version history of an asset, click the asset to open large-sized preview. Open timeline in the left rail and select Comments or Versions . You can also sort the timeline activity like comments or versions in a chronological order.
Sort timeline entries for a search asset

Download searched assets

You can download the searched assets and their renditions just as you download regular assets from folders. Select one or more assets from the search results and click Download from the toolbar.

Bulk update metadata properties

It is possible to make bulk updates to the common metadata fields of multiple assets. From the search results, select one or more assets. Click Properties from the toolbar and update the metadata as required. Click Save and Close when done. The previously existing metadata in the updated fields is overwritten.
For the assets that are available in a single folder or a collection, it is easier to update the metadata in bulk . For the assets that are available across folders or match a common criteria, it is faster to bulk update the metadata via searching.

Smart collections

A collection is an ordered set of assets that can include assets from different locations because collections contain only references to these assets. Collections are of the following two types:
  • A static reference list of assets, folders, and other collections.
  • A dynamic list (smart collection) that populates assets in the collection based on a search criteria.
You can create smart collections based on the search criteria. From the Filters panel, select Files and click Save Smart Collection . See manage collections .

Unexpected search results

Search for missing metadata : When searching for assets that are missing the mandatory metadata, AEM may display some assets that have valid metadata. Missing metadata is detected and reported based on indexed metadata property. Even if the asset metadata is fixed, it continues to show as missing metadata until re-indexing occurs. See mandatory metadata .
Too many search results : To avoid getting too many search results, consider limiting the search results. For example, to search for assets in DAM, select Location:Assets in Omnisearch bar. For more search filters, see scope of search .
No auto-complete suggestions for newly uploaded assets : The metadata (titles, tags, and so on) of the recently uploaded assets is not immediately available as suggestions when you start typing a search keyword in Omnisearch bar. AEM Assets waits until the expiry of a timeout period (one hour by default) before running a background job to index the metadata for all newly uploaded or updated assets and then adds the metadata to the list of suggestions.
No search results : If AEM and displays an empty page for a search query, the following may be reasons:
  • No assets exist that match your query.
  • You add a whitespace before the search query. It is a known limitation .
  • An unsupported metadata field contains the keyword that you search for. Not all metadata fields are considered for searches. See scope .
  • On time and off time is configured for asset and the search was made during an asset's off time.
Search filter/predicate is not available : If an expected customization to search filters is not available on the user interface, contact your administrator to check if the customization was implemented for all authors and on the production server you are using. It is possible that the configuration was incorrect.

Troubleshoot search-related issues

See the issues and possible course of action below:
  • If an expected search filter/predicate is not visible, contact your administrator.
  • When searching for visually similar images, at times an expected image may be missing from the search results. Check if such assets are indexed and smart tagged.
  • When searching for visually similar images, at times a seemingly irrelevant image may be displayed in the search results. AEM displays as many potentially relevant assets as possible. Less relevant images, if any, are added to the results but with a lower search ranking. The quality of the matches and relevance of searched assets decrease as you scroll down the search results.