The Smart Search extension is one of the new feature introduced in the version 2.5 of Joomla!. This extension aims at progressively replacing the Search component (com_search).
The Smart Search component includes, among other features, a very useful feature (enabled by default): the Search Suggestions.
This feature displays suggestions when users perform a search and get no results or when their search contains misspelled words.
How to use the Smart Search?
When you're installing Joomla 3, the Smart Search is disabled by default. Here's how to use the Smart Search on your site:
Enable the plugins
First, you need to enable the plugin "Content – Smart Search". To do so, select Extensions → Plugin Manager and edit the "Content – Smart Search" plugin. This plugin doesn't have specific parameters, just enable it and click the Save & Close button.
Then, you need to enable the Finder plugins in order to display your search results. To do so, select Extensions → Plugin Manager.
1 - Filter the plugins of Finder type.
2 - Select all plugins.
3 - Click the Enable button.
Then enable the "Content – Smart Search" plugin, which is of "Content" type.
Index the Content
Once all plugins have been enabled, we will start indexing the content. To do so, select Components → Smart Search and click the Index button:
The indexing process is starting:
Wait until it's complete:
Then close the window (1). Your site's content has been indexed.
You will see the indexed content after you close the window. If you don't want to display some contents, you can unpublish them.
Caution: even if some contents on your site are not public (or even if a registered user belonging to a group is not granted access to some contents) the Smart Search results' list will display ALL contents. The content itself cannot be displayed but parts of it remain visible to people who don't have permission to view it.
To avoid this, you need to disable the "Search Suggestions" parameter: select Extensions → Smart Search → Options and disable the "Search Suggestions".
Publish the Smart Search on your website
To publish the Smart Search on your website, you have two options: via a module or via a menu item.
Publish a Smart Search module
To publish a Smart Search module, select Extensions → Module Manager and click the New button. Select Smart Search and you'll be taken to the following page:
Smart Search Module
1 - Configure the parameters that are common to all modules (name, position, access, etc.). Here you can also find 3 parameters that are specific to this module (2).
3 - Select here the pages on which you want to display this search module.
4 - Manage the module's permissions.
5 - Common to all modules, you can customize some parameters like the caching and the header tag, choose whether to apply a suffix to the module CSS class or not.
Once everything is configured as you want, click the Save & Close button.
Publish a Smart Search menu item.
There is another option allowing your users to search for your site's content: you can publish a Smart Search menu item. This menu item will direct your users to a custom search form.
To do so, select Menus → Your menu, then hit the New button.
Smart Search menu item
As is the case for any menu item, you need to enter a title, select its status, its type (the "Smart Search" type in this case), its access (1)... then you have to define the menu item's own parameters in order to customize your search form (2). In (a), you can add a search query that will automatically be included in all searches. In (b), you can select a search filter.
Unpublish the Search items
To complete your installation, you can now unpublish all the modules and all the menu items that are related to the Search component.