4.2. Searching through multiple annotation files

A screencast regarding this section is available on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/67896572

ELAN offers an option to search for an expression through multiple files. This search function searches for (whole) words within annotations to match the given query. To access it, go to Search > Search multiple eaf… This will open the following dialog box:

Searching through multiple annotation files

Figure 4.13. Searching through multiple annotation files

In order to perform a multiple file search, go through the following steps:

  1. Click on Define search domain and do one of the following:

    • Select an existing domain from the list and click Load. (Click Delete if you want to delete the domain.)

    • Create a new domain:

      1. Click New Domain...

      2. Click in the new dialog on the Look in pull down box and browse to the directory that contains the annotation files.

      3. Double-click an annotation file (*.eaf) to select it. It now appears in the rightmost box. Alternatively, you can click on the annotation file name and click the >> button.

        Repeat this for every annotation file you want to include.

        It is also possible to select a complete directory. All .eaf files in a selected directory will be included.

      4. Click OK to continue the exporting process; otherwise click Cancel to exit the dialog window without exporting.

      5. If you clicked OK you can save this domain: enter a name and click OK. If you do not want to save the domain click Cancel.

    • Create a new domain from an IMDI search:

      1. Click New Domain from IMDI Search...

      2. Browse to and select an IMDI file that has been exported from a metadata search in the standalone IMDI Browser.

      3. Click Open.

      4. You can save this domain: enter a name and click OK. If you do not want to save the domain click Cancel.

  2. Enter a search expression and optionally enable a regular expression and/or case sensitive search.

  3. Click on Search. The result screen will appear:

    Searching through multiple annotation files: result

    Figure 4.14. Searching through multiple annotation files: result

The result window contains the following fields for every found annotation:


It is not possible to restrict the search results to a certain tier or to specify extra structural or temporal constraints.

The displayed search results can be exported to a tab-separated text file as well. The exported files are very similar to that described in Section

If you click on one of the listed annotations, a new ELAN window will be opened, and that annotation unit will be selected. When clicking on another result, the newly opened window is reused.

If you right click somewhere in the list ELAN shows a context menu with the following options:

4.2.1. FASTSearch

Since version 4.7.0, you can now also search via FASTSearch. This method of searching is the same as the search function described in Section 4.2. There is a difference on the back-end of the search function, which makes it a bit faster than the normal search function, especially when you have to search through a large amount of files.