Search for existing data in Zaps

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If you want to have your Zap update a different record in an app every time it runs, you'll first need to use a search step to find that record. Search steps are a way to find existing data in your apps that later actions in your Zap can reference and use.

Before you begin, you’ll need to set up your Zap trigger.


Let’s say you want to set up an automation so that every time someone fills out a form, it adds a comment to a different card on Trello depending on how they filled out the form. In order to update an existing card, we’d need a way to first find that card based on some criteria. That’s exactly what search steps are for.

1. Add a search action

  • In the Zap editor, click the + icon to add a new step.
  • Search for and select the app you want to search for data in.
  • Click the Choose Action Event dropdown menu, If your app has any available search actions, they'll appear in a Search section. Select the search action you want to use.

Search for Google Calendar event

  • Click Continue.

Some apps have search steps within actions. If you click Add a search step, it will automatically create a new search step.

Trello update card search step

2. Choose your app account

  • In the Choose Account section, click the dropdown menu and select the specific app account you want to search for data in.
  • Click Continue.

3. Set your search criteria

Next, set your search criteria. Different apps have different options available on this screen.

  • If you want to search based on a value from an earlier step (e.g., your trigger), click the dropdown menu and select the value. If not, you can enter a search string into the field.

Find Google Calendar event

Optional: Create a new record if the search doesn’t find anything

Some search actions let you create a new record if the search doesn’t find anything.

  • Select the Create [item] if it doesn't exist yet? checkbox.
  • Fill in the fields with the values you want to use for the new record.
  • Click Continue.

4. Test your search step

  • Click Fetch & Continue.
  • If a matching record is found, the test will be successful, and you can view the data for the record found.
  • If there wasn't a record that matched your search criteria, you can choose to either skip the test, or create a record that would match the search term you used and test the search step again.

If the Zap doesn't find the data you're looking for in your search step, and you didn't select the checkbox for Zapier to create the data, the Zap will not proceed to the next step. If the data you're looking for is found, or the data wasn't found but you selected the checkbox for Zapier to create the data, the Zap will move onto the next step.

After setting up your search step, you can insert the data into a later action step, or set up an action step to update the data found by using custom values.

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