Enable Quick Filter Search Box in Synaptic Package Manager

Last updated: May 5, 2024

For those prefer installing and removing Ubuntu packages via Synaptic package manager, you must have noticed the ‘Quick filter’ search function has been replaced by a search button.

This quick tutorial is going to show you how to re-enable the ‘Quick filter’ function in Synaptic package manager in Ubuntu 18.04, Ubuntu 16.04, and higher.

UPDATE: The tutorial is still working in today’s Ubuntu, including Ubuntu 20.04, Ubuntu 22.04, Ubuntu 23.10, and Ubuntu 24.04.

The quick filter search box is offered by ‘apt-xapian-index‘, which is a ‘recommends’ dependency package for Synaptic. Installing synaptic via Ubuntu Software or apt command without --install-recommends will exclude that optional dependency package.

So, the solution is just install the package and re-build search engine index by doing the following steps one by one:

1. Open terminal either via Ctrl+Alt+T keyboard shortcut or from application launcher. When it opens, run command to install apt-xapian-index:

sudo apt install apt-xapian-index

Type user password (no asterisks feedback) when it prompts and hit Enter to continue.

2. Then rebuild the search engine index via command:

sudo update-apt-xapian-index -vf

Finally open or re-open Synaptic package manager, and you’ll see the search box back. Unfortunately for perfectionist, the original ‘Search’ button seems not easy to be removed from tool-bar.

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4 responses to Enable Quick Filter Search Box in Synaptic Package Manager

  1. Gold! TY!

  2. Ji, I dual boot Ubuntu Mate and a Debian based OS (Parrot Security OS). Ubuntu Mate has quick search enabled by default but Parrot does not. Will this work on Debian also, as it is not a PPA? (apt-xapian-index is included in the repository)
    I really miss quick search.

    • I’m not sure, just try it out as Debian and Ubuntu packages are building almost with same rules, though there may be differences on patches and dependency packages versions.