HelpCreateBasics of creating a Zap

Search for existing data in Zaps

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


For example, you might want to set up a Zap so that every time you receive a new Google Forms submission, it adds a comment to a different Trello card depending on how the form was filled out. In order to update an existing Trello card, a search step must be used to first find that card.

1. Add a search action

  • In the Zap editor, click the Action step, or click the plus + icon to add a step to your Zap.
  • Search for or select the app you want to search for data in.
  • Click the Action Event dropdown menu and scroll down to the Search section. Select the search action that you want your Zap to perform.
  • Click Continue.

Some action fields allow you to add a search step. Click the Custom tab, then click Add a search step to automatically create a new search step.

Trello update card search step

2. Choose your app account

  • If you already have an account connected to Zapier for the action app, select it from the account menu.
  • If not, click Connect a new account and follow the instructions to connect your app to Zapier.
  • If the connection is working, click Continue.

3. Add your search criteria

Add your search criteria. Apps may have different options available on this screen.

To search based on a value from an earlier step (e.g., your trigger), click the dropdown menu and select the value.

You can also enter a search string into the field.

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.

Optional: Let the Zap continue even if nothing is found

The field Should This Step Be Considered A “success” When Nothing Is Found? allows you to choose how the Zap should proceed if no record was found.

  • If you select True, the search will always be a success even if nothing is found.
  • If you select False, this step will halt when no record is found. If a later step uses data from the search step, the later step won’t run.

The step results will include a field _zap_search_was_found_status that you can use in later steps of the Zap.

4. Test your search step

  • Click Test & Continue.
  • If a matching record is found, you’ll be able to view the data for that record.
  • If there wasn't a record that matched your search criteria and you didn’t select the checkbox to create a new record, you can choose to either skip the test or create a record that will match the search term and test the search step again.

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

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