Depending on the Bootstrap version used for your pkgdown website, search will be either built-in (Bootstrap 5 and up) or will need some more configuration of an external service (Bootstrap 3). We’d recommend switching to Bootstrap 5, see vignette("customise").

Bootstrap 3: Algolia

pkgdown websites can integrate search capability using DocSearch from Algolia. DocSearch is a powerful search engine that is free for documentation websites. There are only two steps needed to enable DocSearch on a pkgdown website.


Once you have published your pkgdown website, submit the pkgdown site URL to Docsearch. Docsearch will contact you via e-mail to confirm you are the website owner.

Docsearch will set up a crawler configuration that indexes your site every 24 hours. pkgdown builds a suggested Docsearch crawler configuration in docsearch.json and you should point the Docsearch team to this configuration as a starting point. If you want to optimize your search, Docsearch will accept pull requests to the configuration that incorporate additional options to fine tune the scraping.


The Docsearch team will e-mail you some JavaScript to integrate into your website.

<script type="text/javascript">
    apiKey: 'API_KEY',  // a long hex string
    indexName: 'INDEX_NAME', 
    inputSelector: '### REPLACE ME ####', 
    debug: false // Set debug to true if you want to inspect the dropdown 

Put the value of the apiKey and indexName parameters into your site _pkgdown.yml under template: params:

      api_key: API_KEY
      index_name: INDEX_NAME

You also need to add a url: field to _pkgdown.yml that specifies the location of your documentation on the web. For pkgdown, the URL field is:


If you are building your own custom Docsearch index, you can also include your Docsearch app_id in _pkgdown.yml.

See the pkgdown configuration for a functional search configuration.

Once this configuration is complete, you should find a search bar after re-building your site. After search is enabled, pressing shift + / (i.e., “?”) will move the focus to the search bar.