Sets and search folders

Sets and Search Folders are views (or groupings) of project items that are stored elsewhere in your project.


Sets are a flexible way of grouping your files and nodes—for example, you might create a set for the documents, memos and nodes that will be reviewed by a specific team member.

Items in a set are references or 'shortcuts' to the original items—you do not physically move items into a set. This means you can delete an item from a set without removing it from your project.

A set can include any number of files or nodes and a file or node can belong in multiple sets. You can use sets to create temporary groups, and then delete the set when you no longer require it.

You can use sets to organize project items into groups, or manage research tasks. For example, you might use sets in the following ways:

  • To order and organize a set of pictures—put picture files in a set and display them as thumbnails to make a 'photo gallery'.
  • To see stages, progress and changes in data construction, or to manage research timetables—for example, Items created this week, or Nodes without coding.
  • To direct and inform coding—for example, Files not yet coded or Nodes created since team debate.
  • To manage coding and auto coding—for example, Nodes to discuss and re-describe, or Files not yet auto coded.
  • Group items around a theme or an area of analysis
  • Identify and compare the work of team members, a set for each team member could contain the interviews they conducted, memos they wrote and nodes they introduced
  • As the scope of a query—for example, you could make a set for related documents (stored in different folders) and run a Text Search query.

Create a set

You can create a new (empty set)—click Set in the Search group on the Create tab. Alternatively, you can select items first and create a set that contains them:

  1. In List View or Detail View, select the items that you want to create as a set.
  2. On the Create tab in the Search group, click Set and hold down the mouse button, and then click Create As Set.

Search Folders

Search Folders display project items that meet previously defined search criteria—for example, a Search Folder might display all nodes you created in the last week. The project items displayed in a search folder, remain stored in other NVivo folders—for example, any nodes displayed in a Search Folder are actually stored in your nodes folders.

NVivo provides the following system-defined Search Folders:

  • All Nodes—all the nodes, cases, relationships and node matrices in your project
  • All Files—all the files in your project
  • All Files Not Embedded—all media files in your project that reference media files stored outside the project

You can create your own Search Folders by using Advanced Find, and selecting the Add to Project as Search Folder check box to save the criteria as a Search Folder.

Saving an Advanced Find criteria as a Search Folder means you can execute the Find any time you want to, simply by opening the Search Folder. For example, you can create a Search Folder to find any case nodes that you have created which have the classification Person. Whenever you open the Search Folder, you will see a list of case nodes that meet the search criteria at that point in time. If you change your project (for example, add or remove nodes), then the items shown in the Search Folder may change.

You can modify the search criteria of a Search Folder, to find more (or fewer) project items.

If you delete a Search Folder, the project items displayed in the Search Folder are not deleted, because those items are viewed (but not stored) in the Search Folder. You cannot delete the system-defined Search Folders.

You can use Search Folders to select the items you want to show in charts and cluster analysis diagrams. You can also use Search Folders in the scope of queries—this allows you to create queries with dynamic scope. As items in your project are added, deleted or modified, the items in the Search Folder change, and if you run the query again, it may return different results.

Create a new search folder

  1. On the Create tab, in the Search group, click Search Folder.
  2. On the General tab, enter the name and description of the search folder:
  3. On the Search Criteria tab, create your search criteria.