Splunk Cloud

Search Manual

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Help reading searches

Search strings can be long and difficult to read. The Search bar contains features to help you read, parse, or interpret the Splunk Search Processing Language (SPL) syntax. The syntax highlighting feature displays parts of SPL in different colors. Syntax highlighting is available in two different color themes.

In addition to color themes, you can use auto-formatting and line numbers to help read searches. There are keyboard shortcuts available to help you find information in your search syntax.

Syntax highlighting

With syntax highlighting the SPL commands, arguments, functions, and keywords are color-coded to make it easier to read a search.

Consider the following search.

sourcetype=access_* | timechart count(eval(action=purchase)) BY productName usenull=false useother=false

With syntax highlighting turned on, searches can be easier to read. Syntax highlighting shows commands, arguments, functions, and keywords in different colors. The following image shows a search string with syntax highlighting.

This screen image shows a search in the Search bar with syntax highlighting turned on. The commands, arguments, functions, and keywords are in different colors.

Syntax validation

If a command, argument, function, or boolean operator is not spelled or capitalized correctly, the term is not highlighted in color. The lack of color alerts you to incorrect syntax.

If you specify an incorrect data type for an argument, the data type appears in red. For example, the limit argument for the top command expects an integer. If you type ...|top limit=false the term false is highlighted in red because it is not an integer.

Turn off syntax highlighting

You can turn syntax highlighting colors off by changing the color theme to Black on White. This is useful for people who have difficulty distinguishing between different colors.

You cannot turn off or change syntax highlighting if you have a Splunk Free license. See About Splunk Free in the Admin manual.

  1. On the Splunk bar, select [User_account_name] > Preferences.
    This screen image shows the Splunk bar. The user account name "Administrator" is selected. The menu choices are Account Settings, Preferences, and Logout.
  2. Click SPL Editor.
  3. On the Themes tab, click Black on White.
    This screen image shows the Preferences window with the SPL Editor preferences selected. The Themes tab shows three theme choices: Black on White, Light theme, and Dark theme.
  4. Click Apply.

Color themes

You can change the appearance of your search criteria by specifying a color theme. There are several themes to choose from.

Theme name Description Notes
Black on White White background. Black text. No other colors. Useful for people who have difficulty distinguishing between different colors.
Light Theme White background. Black text. Colors for commands, arguments, functions, keyword modifiers, and Boolean operators. Default theme
Dark Theme Black background. Light grey text. Colors for commands, arguments, functions, keyword modifiers, and Boolean operators.

Color codes

The color coding that is used for the search syntax depends on the color theme that is implemented. The Light theme is the default theme. The color codes for the Light and Dark themes are described in the following table.

Syntax component Color Example
Commands Blue ...timechart
Command arguments Green ...timechart usenull=false
Functions Pink ...timechart count
Keyword modifiers and Boolean operators Orange ...timechart count BY productName

The following image shows syntax highlighting with the Dark theme.

This screen image shows the Dark color theme in the Search bar. The Dark theme is a black background with white text. The commands, arguments, functions, and keywords are in different colors.

Change the color theme

You change the color theme in the Search bar by using the account menu. You cannot change the color theme if you have a Splunk Free license. See About Splunk Free in the Admin manual.

  1. On the Splunk bar, select [User_account_name] > Preferences.
  2. Click SPL Editor.
  3. On the Themes tab, select the color theme that you want to use.
  4. Click Apply.

Auto-format search syntax

As you build a search, you can set up the Splunk software to format the search syntax as you type. Auto-format makes your searches more readable. Each pipe section is parsed onto a separate line. Any subsearches are indented.

The following image shows how a search appears in the Search bar when auto-format is turned off.

This screen image shows a search in the Search bar.

When auto-format is turned on, this same search is parsed as shown in the following image.

This screen image shows the same search with each piped section on a new line in the Search bar.

Characters that trigger auto-format

Character Automatic formatting
Pipe ( | ) The pipe is placed on a new line to separate each new piped section of your search criteria.
Left square bracket ( [ ) The left square bracket, which signifies the start of a subsearch, is placed on a new line and indented several spaces.

If the pipe or left bracket is inside a quoted string, the auto-format is not triggered.

Turn on Search auto-format

By default, automatic formatting of search syntax is turned off. You can turn on the automatic formatting of the search syntax in the Settings dialog box.

Changing the options in the Settings dialog box changes the setting only for you. It does not impact the setting for other users.

  1. On the Splunk bar, select [User_account_name] > Preferences.
  2. Click SPL Editor.
  3. On the General tab click Search auto-format.
  4. This screen image shows the Preferences window with the SPL Editor preferences selected. The General tab shows three theme choices: Black on White, Light theme, and Dark theme.
  5. Click Apply.

Auto-formatting is applied to new searches that you type into the Search bar. If you already have a search in the Search bar, use the Search bar shortcuts to apply auto-formatting to that search.

Why are my searches not auto-formatting?

The auto-format feature works on searches that you type into the Search bar. If you paste a search into the Search bar or select a search from Search History, the search is not automatically formatted even when the auto-format feature is turned on.

To apply auto-formatting to a search that you paste into the Search bar or select from Search History, use the following keyboard shortcut to apply auto-formatting to that search.

  • On Linux or Windows use Ctrl + \
  • On Mac OSX use Command + \

Number search lines

To make reading your searches easier, you can display line numbers in the Search bar. The following image shows both line numbers and auto-formatting turned on.

This screen image shows a search in the Search bar with line numbers. Line numbers are highlighted on the left side of the image.

Turn on line numbering

By default, line numbering is turned off. You turn on line numbering in the Preferences dialog box.

  1. On the Splunk bar, select [User_account_name] > Preferences.
  2. Click SPL Editor.
  3. On the General tab click Line numbers.
  4. Click Apply.

Changing the options in the Preferences dialog box changes the setting only for you. It does not impact the preferences set for other users. See Change the default Search preferences for all users.

A row in the Search bar is not a line

The line numbering feature applies numbers only to lines. A row in the Search bar is not necessarily a line. You might have a long line that spans multiple rows in the Search bar but is still only one line.

For example, if you paste a long search into the Search bar that has not been formatted with multiple lines, the search has one line number and spans multiple rows.

You can create lines in the Search bar by using the following methods.

  • The Search auto-formatting feature is turned on and you type a pipe character or left square bracket.
  • You use the Search bar shortcuts to auto-format the current search.
  • You press Shift + Enter to split the active row at the cursor. Pressing Enter does not create a new line in the Search bar.

Search bar shortcuts

In the Search bar, you can use keyboard shortcuts to help you develop, read, and parse your search criteria.

Make searches easier to read

Long searches can be difficult to read. For example, the following search uses multiple commands and includes many occurrences of renaming columns in the search results.

sourcetype=access_* status=200 | stats count AS views count(eval(action="addtocart")) AS addtocart count(eval(action="purchase")) AS purchases by productName | eval viewsToPurchases=(purchases/views)*100 | eval cartToPurchases=(purchases/addtocart)*100 | table productName views addtocart purchases viewsToPurchases cartToPurchases | rename productName AS "Product Name", views AS "Views", addtocart as "Adds To Cart", purchases AS "Purchases"


The following image shows how this search appears in the Search bar.

This screen image shows the search listed above displayed in the search bar.

You can use a keyboard shortcut to parse each pipe section on a separate line. Any subsearches are indented. The auto-format feature does not need to be turned on to use these keyboard shortcuts.

  • On Linux or Windows use Ctrl + \
  • On Mac OSX use Command + \. You can also use Command + Shift + F, which works well with many non-English keyboards.


The results of the shortcut are shown in the following image.

This screen image shows the same search with each piped section on a new line in the search bar.

You can also use Shift + Enter to force a new line. See Line and word shortcuts.

Expand your search

For long searches, or searches that contain search macros or saved searches, it can be difficult to see the entire search in the Search bar.

You can see the contents of your entire search by using a keyboard shortcut, Command-Shift-E (Mac OSX) or Control-Shift-E (Linux or Windows) from the Search bar in the Search page. This opens a preview that displays the expanded search string, including all search macros and saved searches. If syntax highlighting or line numbering are turned on, those features also appear in the preview.

You can copy parts of the search from the preview window. You can also click Open in Search in the preview window to run your search in a new window. See Preview your search.

Highlight search terms

  • To highlight all of the occurrences of a word in the search, double-click on that word.

This screen image shows the same search with the "addtocart" term highlighted.  All of the other occurrences of "addtocart" are also highlighted.

Locate matching parenthesis

  • Position your cursor immediately after an open or close parenthesis. The matching parenthesis is highlighted.

This screen image shows the same search listed above. The cursor is immediately to the right of the open parenthesis in this part of the search that contains the command "eval viewsToPurchases=(purchases/views)*100". There is a highlight on the close parenthesis.

Undo and Redo shortcuts

Use these keyboard shortcuts to undo and redo actions in the Search bar.

Action Linux or Windows Mac OSX
Undo the previous action. Ctrl + Z Command + Z
Redo the previous action. Ctrl + Y or

Ctrl + Shift + Z

Command + Y or

Command + Shift + Z

Search assistant window shortcuts

With the Compact mode of the search assistant, you can use keyboard shortcuts to select items in the list and close and reopen the search assistant window.

Action Linux or Windows Mac OSX
Move your cursor into the search assistant window. Down arrow key Down arrow key
Close the search assistant window. ESC ESC
Reopen the search assistant window. Ctrl + Space Control + Space
Select an item in the search assistant window and insert it into the Search bar. Use the Up arrow and Down arrow keys to highlight the item and press Enter. Use the Up arrow and Down arrow keys to highlight the item and press Enter.
Toggle between the list and the Learn More link in the search assistant window. Tab Tab

Find and replace shortcuts

Use the following keyboard shortcuts to find and replace terms in the Search bar.

Action Linux or Windows Mac OSX
Find a term. Ctrl + F Command + F
Find and replace a term. Ctrl + H Command + Option + F

Line and word shortcuts

The distinction between rows and lines is important to understand when you use keyboard shortcuts to manipulate rows or lines in your search criteria in the Search bar.

  • Long searches appear on multiple rows in the Search bar.
  • If the search is not parsed, the search is one line.
  • If the search is parsed, separating each piped section and subsearch into its own line, a row is the same as a line.


Action Linux or Windows Mac OSX
Split the active row at the cursor. Shift + Enter Shift + Enter
Remove the active line. If the search is one line with multiple rows and not parsed into separate lines, the entire search is removed. Ctrl + D Command + D
Copy the active row and place the copy below the active row. Alt + Shift + Down arrow Command + Option + Down arrow
Copy the active row and place the copy above the active row. Alt + Shift + Up arrow Command + Option + Up arrow
Move the active row down one row. Alt + Down arrow Option + Down arrow
Move the active row up one row. Alt + Up arrow Option + Up arrow
Remove the search criteria from the cursor to the end of the row. Alt + Delete Control + K
Remove the search criteria from the cursor to the start of the row. Alt + Backspace Command + Delete
Remove the word or space to the right of the cursor. Ctrl + Delete Alt + Delete
Remove the word or space to the left of the cursor. Ctrl + Backspace Option + Delete

Change the default Search preferences for all users

The previous sections describe how individual users can change the default Search preferences for syntax highlighting, auto-formatting, and line numbering features for themselves.

The default Search preferences can also be changed globally for all users.

Prerequisites

  • Only users with file system access, such as system administrators, can change the default Search preferences for all users. If you are using Splunk Cloud and want to change the default Search settings for your Splunk system, open a Support ticket.
  • Review the steps in How to edit a configuration file in the Admin Manual.

Never change or copy the configuration files in the default directory. The files in the default directory must remain intact and in their original location. Make the changes in the local directory.

Steps

  1. Open the local user-prefs.conf file for the Search app. For example, $SPLUNK_HOME/etc/apps/<app_name>/local.
  2. Under the [general] stanza, you can change the settings listed in the following table.
    Feature Attribute syntax Default setting
    Syntax highlighting search_syntax_highlighting = light, dark, or black-white light
    Auto-formatting search_auto_format = <boolean> false
    Line numbering search_line_numbers = <boolean> false
  3. Restart the Splunk instance.
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This documentation applies to the following versions of Splunk Cloud: 7.2.4, 7.2.6, 7.2.3


Comments

Tbaublys - Thanks for pointing this out! I have added it to the section about formatting.

Lstewart splunk, Splunker
June 19, 2019

The shortcut for search formatting on Mac is CMD+Shift+F -> works with US and German keyboard setting.

Tbaublys splunk, Splunker
June 18, 2019

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