With SharePoint 2013, Search features are a lot more powerful than in previous versions. The information discovery potential is enormous. But to truly leverage these features, SharePoint administrators, site owners and even super-users have to customize them. Unfortunately, SharePoint has once again made doing this seem a lot more complex than it really is for inexperienced users. That’s where the Search Results Web Part comes into play.

In fact, the SharePoint Search Results Web Part is probably the easiest tool to set up—and the one that will bring the fastest and most notable results. You can rapidly increase productivity by showing relevant information to your users and reduce the amount of time they spend searching for documents. This tool is also a good way to increase adoption by offering a unique and tailored experience to each user according to contextual factors. Let me walk you through the quickest way you can implement this web part and become your organization’s SharePoint hero.

Displaying the last modified documents by user

The main reason why most people log in to SharePoint is to look for a document they recently edited. Therefore, you’ll want to integrate this web part to all team sites and Intranet.

The good news is that the Search Results Web Part comes with a built-in search query. The bad news is that it still needs customization to get the right results.

Here’s a quick step-by-step of how to do this:

1. Insert a web part in the desired SharePoint page and location.

Creating a Web Part in SharePoint 2013

a. By default, the web part returns no matches because you first need to define what you want to display.

2. Edit the web part properties.

Editing the Web Part properties

NOTE: You’ll need to use the web part Edit button, since the Preferences and Advanced Search buttons displayed by default in the web part will return errors. It’s a known problem Microsoft is working on and is expected to be resolved in the next update. Until then, I suggest you simply uncheck both the Show Preferences Link and Show Advanced Link in the web part options as shown in the image above.

3. In the Search criteria tab, you need to click on Change Query to access the view that enables you to create or refine your query, sort your results, change settings and test your query.

Building your Search query

4. If you are new to search queries in SharePoint, use the Quick Mode. It is available from the same view presented in the above screenshot (see top right corner).

5. You can easily set up your web part to return Documents. As shown in the image below, simply select it from the drop-down menu to have it as your result source.

Select a source result

6. Now the fun begins. We need to narrow the query to display only documents that were last modified by the current user.

From the Basics tab, you need to switch back to Advanced Mode. Only then will you be able to see the actual query text created by the selections we made in step 5.

It should look something like this: (FileExtension:doc OR FileExtension:docx OR FileExtension:xls OR FileExtension:xlsx OR FileExtension:ppt OR FileExtension:pptx OR FileExtension:pdf) (IsDocument:”True” OR contentclass:”STS_ListItem”)

This is KQL syntax, the same one used by Google to filter search results.

To help you build your queries, you can use this reference guide.

KQL syntax is actually quite easy to learn and understand. The toughest part is usually finding the right SharePoint references. That’s where the Search Result Preview on the right side can help.

For example, in our scenario, if we add “ModifiedBy:{User.Name}” to the query and then hit the “Test Query” button, it would return the last documents modified by the desired user.

7. To rank results by last modified date, use the Sorting tab. There you can select the properties needed to rank results by date.

8. The last step is making your web part design fit with the rest of your site. To do this, you‘ll want to limit the number of results to 5. Adjust other properties in order to clearly state what this web part is actually used for. For example, make sure to give the web part a relevant name.

Adjust properties to give the look you want

A first step towards properly using web parts

Displaying the user’s last modified documents is just the tip of the iceberg. From targeted corporate announcements to relevant tasks and the most popular HR forms or documents, your imagination and your organization’s unique challenges are all great sources of inspiration for how you can use the Search Result Web Part.

I hope this has opened your eyes to all the amazing things you can do with this powerful web part. Let me know how you use it… we can all benefit from more great ideas!


Written by Sophie Furnival Marketing Communications Manager @ SherWeb

Sophie leads a team of expert marketers in charge of building SherWeb’s brand awareness. Responsible for activities such as email marketing, social media and driving organic web traffic, her role is critical to ensuring SherWeb is recognized and respected by prospects, partners, competitors and other stakeholders. Sophie has extensive experience working in journalism and corporate communications for different industries, including science, technology and the non-profit sector. When she’s not championing SherWeb’s brand, Sophie enjoys diving, cooking and watching The Office.