Dynamics 365 Business Central Tips and Tricks: Universal Search Finds Data and Records Fast

January 25, 2024

In this series of bimonthly blogs, Western Computer shares our expertise with tips and tricks to help users work more efficiently in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. Based on our more than 30 years in business—with 1,100+ solution implementations, including more than 200 in the cloud—we share the expertise we have accumulated to enable users to work as proficiently as possible. You can also subscribe to these blogs in our LinkedIn newsletter.

Finding Information Quickly Across All Areas of Business Central

In this blog, we present a new capability that allows users to run a universal search for data from anywhere in Business Central. This is a feature our customers and our consultants have wanted for years, given all the time users spend searching for information.

Streamlining the search process is key because finding specific information quickly across all the different areas of Business Central often requires specifically-tailored queries. The challenge grows greater as the volume of data constantly increases. An increase in data volumes usually coincides with business growth, making it even more important to get relevant content fast. 

Business Central solves this challenge by letting users search across all data, not only business transactions, but also data specific to each user’s role. The feature shows the most relevant results first, which saves valuable time in helping users make decisions and respond to customer requests.

How to Access Universal Search

To access universal search, users just hit the <Alt> + <Q> shortcut key combination to open the <Tell Me> dialog box. They can enter one or more keywords, or they can run <Tell Me> in the context of an editable page, which automatically kicks off a search for the value in the selected field.

By default, searches are scoped to data available in Business Central Role Center and the tables a user is authorized to access. However, users can customize the scope by selecting <Show tables> to set up where to search on the <Search in company data> page. By limiting the search scope, results appear even faster.

The <Set up where to search> action opens the <Enables lists for searching> page. Users get a table where they can pick the tables to search in. By default, only the tables that are relevant for specific roles are selected, but users can browse other tables by un-toggling or un-checking the <Show only search enabled lists> toggle and filtering to selected tables actions.

When users choose a table in <Enable lists for searching>, a page opens, and they can tailor the search to include fields in the selected table by turning on the <Enable search> toggle. By default, only indexed code and text type fields as well as fields that identify the search result record are enabled. Because the number of table fields that the search includes can impact performance, you can restore the default settings by choosing the <Reset to default> action on the <Search Setup List> table or a <Search Setup List> page.

Finding Records and Values

When searching for a particular record or a value in a table, users can also use the <Tell Me> dialog box. After entering the keywords, Business Central starts the search in the background and goes through each table one at a time, with results appearing after each table is searched. If the user enters more than one keyword, the results include only the records that have all the words in any of the selected fields.

The results page shows the three most recently updated records. If there are more than three, you can choose <Show all results> to display them. Each time you choose a search result, you increase the popularity of the table, and it appears higher in the results. Additionally, the record will be found more quickly if you search for it in the future.

You can speed up results by choosing the fields on the tables that you want to include in your searches. The tables and fields that you can choose from vary, depending on your Role Center. By default, all tables and fields are chosen, which can slow down the search. Microsoft recommends excluding as many tables and fields as you can to speed up the search.

To Learn More

Western Computer offers deep expertise across the Microsoft technology stack, particularly in Dynamics 365 Business Central. Our thought leaders can help you ensure your critical ERP application meets your business needs for today and beyond. For more information on how to use universal search in Business Central, or for help in designing, deploying or supporting your Microsoft Dynamics 365 solution, contact Western Computer today.

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