Joomla 2.5 shipped with many new features including multi-database support and much improved one-click upgrades.

One the most important of those features was a brand new search extension: Smart Search. Smart Search is destined to be the replacement for com_search which has been around since 2005 at least.

Smart Search is disabled by default but it's easy to enable and is a big improvement.

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How to Enable Smart Search

Go to Extensions > Plug-in Manager and enable the Smart Search plugin.

Go to Components > Smart Search and click Index in the toolbar.

You'll see a progress bar as Joomla indexes your site. This is the first and last time you'll need to run this indexer.

When you're finished, you'll see all of the indexed content as in the image below:

Now that your content is in Smart Search, go to Extensions > Module Manager and place your Smart Search module live on your site.

The Smart Search module will look exactly the same as the normal Search module.

However, when you use the module, the Smart Search results will look very different:

There is also an Advanced Search feature to allow people to drill down more accurately:

Click on the Advanced Search and you'll be presented with the ability to filter your search by Author, Category, Country, Language, Region and Type.