Introduction to SOSL in Salesforce

  • By Komal Wavare
  • December 1, 2023
  • Salesforce
Introduction to SOSL in Salesforce

Introduction to SOSL in Salesforce

Salesforce is a powerful Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform that helps organizations manage their customer data, sales, and service processes efficiently. To harness the full potential of Salesforce, it’s essential to be proficient in various search and retrieval methods. One such method is SOSL (Salesforce Object Search Language), which allows users to perform complex searches across multiple Salesforce objects. In this blog, we will delve Introduction to SOSL in Salesforce, exploring its features, use cases, and best practices to help you become a Salesforce search expert. Explore about Salesforce Interview Questions.


Understanding SOSL:

SOSL is a robust query language in Salesforce designed specifically for searching unstructured data across multiple objects. Unlike SOQL (Salesforce Object Query Language), which is primarily used for structured data retrieval, SOSL is ideal for cases where you need to search for specific keywords, phrases, or patterns in your data.


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Key Features of SOSL:

1. Multi-Object Search: SOSL allows you to search across multiple Salesforce objects simultaneously. This makes it perfect for scenarios where data is scattered across various entities, such as Leads, Contacts, Accounts, and Custom Objects.


  1. Full-Text Search: SOSL supports full-text search capabilities, enabling you to search for keywords or phrases within text fields, including those stored as rich text or HTML.


  1. Ranking: SOSL provides a ranking system that sorts the search results based on relevance, helping you identify the most pertinent records quickly.


Syntax: SOSL queries are relatively straightforward and consist of a FIND statement followed by the search terms enclosed in curly braces. You can also specify object types to narrow down the search.

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Basic SOSL Syntax:


FIND {search term} IN ALL FIELDS RETURNING Object_Type__c (Field1, Field2)




  Object1(Name, Field2, …)

  Object2(Field3, Field4, …)



FIND: The keyword that initiates the SOSL query.

{searchQuery}: The search query you want to perform. This can be a single term or a more complex search expression.

IN ALL FIELDS: Specifies that you want to search across all fields in the specified objects.

RETURNING: Indicates that you want to retrieve specific fields from the matching records.

Object1, Object2, etc.: The objects you want to search within. You can specify multiple objects.


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Use Cases for SOSL:

SOSL is incredibly versatile and can be used in various scenarios to search for data efficiently. Here are some common use cases for SOSL


1.Global Search: Salesforce’s global search bar uses SOSL under the hood to perform fast and accurate searches across all objects, making it a valuable tool for finding records in a vast database.


  1. Knowledge Base Search: If your organization maintains a knowledge base with articles, documents, or FAQs, SOSL can be used to search for relevant content when users have questions or issues.


  1. Content Management: For businesses that use Salesforce to manage digital assets or content libraries, SOSL can help users locate specific files or media with ease.


  1. Advanced Lead and Contact Matching: SOSL is beneficial for identifying potential duplicate leads or contacts by searching for similar names, emails, or other attributes.


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Best Practices for SOSL:


1.Optimize Your Query: To ensure efficient SOSL searches, use selective search terms and avoid overloading your query with unnecessary keywords.


  1. Query Limits: Be aware of the query limits imposed by Salesforce. SOSL queries are subject to limits on the number of records and objects you can search at once, so plan your queries


  1. Leverage the RETURNING Clause: Specify only the fields you need in the RETURNING clause to reduce query execution time and retrieve only the necessary data.


  1. Handle Query Results: SOSL returns a list of sObjects. Make sure to handle the results appropriately, iterate through them, and process the data as required.


  1. Security Considerations: Always ensure that users have the necessary access rights to view the records returned by SOSL queries. Salesforce’s security model remains in effect when using SOSL.


  1. Bulk Data Considerations: SOSL may not be the best choice for bulk data extraction. It’s more suited for specific, targeted searches. Use SOQL for retrieving large volumes of structured data.

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Example of using SOSL in a Salesforce Trigger:


Suppose you have two custom objects, Account__c and Contact__c, and you want to create a Salesforce trigger that fires when a new Account__c record is inserted. This trigger should then use SOSL to search for related Contact__c records based on a specific keyword in the Account’s description field.


trigger AccountTrigger on Account__c (after insert) {

    List<Account__c> accountsToSearch = new List<Account__c>();


    for (Account__c acc : {




    List<Id> contactIds = new List<Id>();

    for (List<Account__c> searchResults : [FIND :accountsToSearch[0].Description__c IN ALL FIELDS RETURNING Contact__c(Id)]) {

        for (Contact__c contact : searchResults) {





    // Now, you can perform any necessary actions with the found Contact records (e.g., update them).


In this example, the trigger is defined to execute after an Account__c record is inserted. It collects the Account records in a list, searches for related Contact__c records based on the Description__c field, and collects the Contact record IDs for further processing.


Example of using SOSL in an Apex class:


You can also use SOSL in an Apex class to perform searches and manipulate the results.


public class SOSLExample {

    public static List<Account> searchAccounts(String keyword) {

        List<List<SObject>> searchResults = [FIND :keyword IN ALL FIELDS RETURNING Account(Name, Industry)];

        List<Account> accounts = new List<Account>();


        for (List<SObject> searchResult : searchResults) {

            for (SObject obj : searchResult) {





        return accounts;



In this Apex class, we have a method called searchAccounts that takes a keyword as an input parameter. It uses SOSL to search for Account records containing the keyword in any field and returns the Name and Industry of the matching records.

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