Find data in your apps with search actions

By Carlin Sack

You are reading: Chapter 4 of 12

Key points

  • Search actions let you find info in one app and use it later in the same workflow.
  • Searches are tailored to the app. You can track down things like names, email addresses, lists, events, spreadsheet rows, and tasks, depending on the tool.
  • Some search actions include create options, which let you create a new entry if a search comes up empty.
  • Update info on the fly by uncovering items with search actions.

In the next chapter, we'll cover how to use filters to choose if and when your Zaps run.


Your Zaps should be customized to work best for you. That means you might want to set up a Zap that doesn't just look for data as it comes into an app, but also uses previous data.

That's where search actions come in. Search actions look up data in an app, so you can use it later in the same Zap. You tell the Zap what data to look for, and the Zap finds it and puts it to use.

For example, every time one of your customers fills out a form, you want to add a comment to a different card on Trello depending on how the customer filled out the form. In order to update an existing card, you’d need a way to first find that card based on some criteria. That’s exactly what search steps are for.

Here's how to add a search action to your Zap:

Step 1: Set up your Zap trigger. (If you need a refresher on how to set up your trigger, see our previous chapter on how to set up a Zap.)

Step 2: Now you need to add your action step where the search action will take place. In the Zap editor, click the + icon to add your new action step. Search for and select the app you want to search for data in. In our example, we've selected Trello.

Step 3: 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.

Find the search action options in the Search section

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

Find the search action options in the Search section

Step 4: Next, tell the Zap exactly what data you're looking for by filling in the fields. Different apps have different options available on this screen. The cool part is, you can use data from a previous step (e.g., your trigger) in order to tell the Zap what to search for in this step. To add data from an earlier step, click the dropdown menu and select the value. If not, you can enter a search string into the field.

Search action fields

In addition to looking up existing data, some search actions also have the ability to create the data (if it doesn't already exist). You can tell if an app has this ability by looking for the Create [item] if it doesn't exist yet? checkbox while setting up the search action step.

Once you check that checkbox, fill in the fields with the values you want to use for the new record. Then click Continue.

Step 5: After you've filled in the fields, click Fetch & Continue to make sure the step works and see what data it just found or created.

If the data you're looking for is found (or created), the test will be successful, and the Zap will move onto the next step.

If the Zap doesn't find the data you're looking for and you didn't check the checkbox telling the Zap to create the data instead, then the Zap will not proceed to the next step. 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.

Step 6: After setting up your search step, you can now insert the data into a later action step, or set up an action step to update the data found by using custom values.

Workflow

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