Mastodon spiked in popularity last year, as its open-source and decentralized design made it a preferable alternative to the rapidly-decaying state of Twitter (now «X») under new management. The social media platform has been updated a few times since then, and now Mastodon 4.2 is rolling out with regular text search, design updates, and other great improvements.
Mastodon already had a search feature, but you were mostly limited to searching for names and hashtags, not the text in posts. That has finally changed with the new update, which allows you to search for posts as you would on other platforms. You can also use filters for polls, specific users, or dates, much like Discord search or the old Twitter Advanced Search. Importantly, posts will only be searchable from accounts that have allowed search indexing in their account settings, which is not turned on by default. That does make the search feature a bit less useful, but it’s an example of Mastodon placing privacy first.
The blog post explains, «the interface for searching is completely new and inspired by the app Ivory—as you type, a popout provides you with quick actions, such as, go directly to hashtag, search only for profiles, or, when writing or pasting a URL, open URL in Mastodon. Your recent searches are now available for quick access, and search results use infinite scroll.»
Other elements in the Mastodon web app have also been improved, including new thread indicators, role badges on profiles, improved article previews, and less cropping from image previews. The account setup process has also been streamlined, with suggestions for people to follow and how to make a post. Of course, you can also just use a third-party Mastodon app or web app instead of the default web interface — unlike Facebook or Twitter/X, there are no restrictions blocking other apps from using the same features.
Mastodon updates must be installed by the administrator of the server you’re using before you can try out the new features. Many popular servers have already been updated, including mastodon.social, mastodon.online, and mas.to. Other servers will be updated over the coming days and weeks.
Source: Mastodon Blog, GitHub