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Searches for messages matching a query.

Supported token types:
Expected scopes:

This method returns messages matching a search query.


This method has the URL https://slack.com/api/search.messages and follows the Slack Web API calling conventions.

Argument Example Required Description
token xxxx-xxxxxxxxx-xxxx Required

Authentication token bearing required scopes.

query pickleface Required

Search query. May contains booleans, etc.

count 20 Optional, default=20

Number of items to return per page.

highlight true Optional

Pass a value of true to enable query highlight markers (see below).

page 2 Optional, default=1

Page number of results to return.

sort timestamp Optional, default=score

Return matches sorted by either score or timestamp.

sort_dir asc Optional, default=desc

Change sort direction to ascending (asc) or descending (desc).


The response envelope contains paging and result information:

    "ok": true,
    "query": "test",
    "messages": {
        "total": 829,
        "paging": {
            "count": 20,
            "total": 829,
            "page": 1,
            "pages": 42
        "matches": [

The actual matches are returned as hashes containing contextual messages:

    "type": "message",
    "channel": {
        "id": "C2147483753",
        "name": "foo"
    "user": "U2147483709",
    "username": "johnnytest",
    "ts": "1359414002.000003",
    "text": "mention test: johnnyrodgers".
    "permalink": "https:\/\/example.slack.com\/channels\/foo\/p1359414002000003",
    "previous_2": {
        "user": "U2147483709",
        "username": "johnnytest",
        "text": "This was said before before",
        "ts": "1359413987.000000",
        "type": "message"
    "previous": {
        "user": "U2147483709",
        "username": "johnnytest",
        "text": "This was said before",
        "ts": "1359414001.000000",
        "type": "message"
    "next": {
        "user": "U2147483709",
        "username": "johnnytest",
        "text": "This was said after",
        "ts": "1359414020.000000",
        "type": "message"
    "next_2": {
        "user": "U2147483709",
        "username": "johnnytest",
        "text": "This was said after after",
        "ts": "1359414021.000000",
        "type": "message"

Messages are searched primarily inside the message text themselves, with a lower priority on the messages immediately before and after. If more than one search term is provided, user and channel are also matched at a lower priority. To specifically search within a channel, group, or DM, add in:channel_name, in:group_name, or in:username. To search for messages from a specific speaker, add from:username or from:botname.

For IM results, the type is set to "im" and the channel.name property contains the user ID of the target user. For private group results, type is set to "group".

All search methods support the highlight parameter. If specified, the matching query terms will be marked up in the results so that clients may replace them with appropriate highlighting markers (e.g. <span class="highlight"></span>). The UTF-8 markers we use are:

start: "\xEE\x80\x80"; # U+E000 (private-use)
end  : "\xEE\x80\x81"; # U+E001 (private-use)

Please note that the max count value is 1000 and the max page value is 100.


This table lists the expected errors that this method could return. However, other errors can be returned in the case where the service is down or other unexpected factors affect processing. Callers should always check the value of the ok params in the response.

Error Description

No authentication token provided.


Invalid authentication token.


Authentication token is for a deleted user or workspace.


The workspace token used in this request does not have the permissions necessary to complete the request.


This method cannot be called by a bot user.


The method was passed an argument whose name falls outside the bounds of accepted or expected values. This includes very long names and names with non-alphanumeric characters other than _. If you get this error, it is typically an indication that you have made a very malformed API call.


The method was passed a PHP-style array argument (e.g. with a name like foo[7]). These are never valid with the Slack API.


The method was called via a POST request, but the charset specified in the Content-Type header was invalid. Valid charset names are: utf-8 iso-8859-1.


The method was called via a POST request with Content-Type application/x-www-form-urlencoded or multipart/form-data, but the form data was either missing or syntactically invalid.


The method was called via a POST request, but the specified Content-Type was invalid. Valid types are: application/x-www-form-urlencoded multipart/form-data text/plain.


The method was called via a POST request and included a data payload, but the request did not include a Content-Type header.


The workspace associated with your request is currently undergoing migration to an Enterprise Organization. Web API and other platform operations will be intermittently unavailable until the transition is complete.


The method was called via a POST request, but the POST data was either missing or truncated.


This table lists the expected warnings that this method will return. However, other warnings can be returned in the case where the service is experiencing unexpected trouble.

Warning Description

The method was called via a POST request, and recommended practice for the specified Content-Type is to include a charset parameter. However, no charset was present. Specifically, non-form-data content types (e.g. text/plain) are the ones for which charset is recommended.


The method was called via a POST request, and the specified Content-Type is not defined to understand the charset parameter. However, charset was in fact present. Specifically, form-data content types (e.g. multipart/form-data) are the ones for which charset is superfluous.