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How to Add a Search Bar to WordPress Menu (Step by Step)

Do you want to add a search bar to your WordPress navigation menu?

By default, WordPress lets you add search to your website’s sidebar, footer, and other widget-ready areas. However, many users prefer to have the WordPress search box in the navigation menu because it’s easier for visitors to find.

In this article, we will show you how to easily add a search bar to your WordPress menu without having any coding knowledge.

Adding a Search Bar to WordPress Menu

Why Add a Search Bar to the WordPress Navigation Menu?

A search bar helps users find what they’re looking for without leaving your WordPress website. This can improve the user experience, keep visitors on your site for longer, and boost engagement.

That’s why most website designers and experts recommend adding a search bar to the navigation menu, where users can easily find it.

Add a search bar to WordPress menu

However, by default you can only add the WordPress search widget to widget-ready areas such as the sidebar. Luckily, there are many different WordPress search plugins that let you add the search bar to different areas on your site including navigation menus.

With that said, let’s see how to add a search bar to your WordPress navigation menu.

Adding a Search Bar to WordPress Navigation Menu

The easiest way to add a search bar to your website’s navigation bar, is by using SearchWP Modal Search Form. This free plugin is easy to use, looks great with any theme, and won’t negatively impact your site’s performance.

The first thing you need to do is to install and activate the SearchWP Modal Search Form plugin. For more details, see our step-by-step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, you need to add the search bar to your WordPress menu. Simply go to Appearance » Menus and then make sure you select the Primary menu in the ‘Select menu to edit’ dropdown.

Make Sure the Primary Menu Is Selected

After that, click on the ‘Select’ button.

Next, click on the SearchWP Modal Search Forms box towards the left of the screen.

The SearchWP native search template

You can see the plugin has automatically added a ‘Native WordPress’ search template. Go ahead and check the ‘Native WordPress’ box.

Then, click on the ‘Add to menu’ button.

Adding a search bar to the WordPress navigation menu

WordPress will now add a new ‘Native WordPress’ item to the menu.

To configure this item, give it a click. To start, it’s a good idea to change the navigation label to ‘Search’ so visitors know this is a search field.

To make this change, simply type ‘Search’ into the ‘Navigation Label’ field.

Adding a Search label to the WordPress navigation menu

After that, click on the ‘Save Menu’ button to save your changes. Now, if you visit your WordPress blog, you’ll see a new Search bar in the navigation menu.

SearchWP will automatically style the search to suit your WordPress theme, as you can see in the following images.

Search Preview

Adding Ajax Powered Live Search

You can make your search form even more user-friendly by adding live search results using Ajax technology. This will automatically show the visitor relevant search results as they’re typing the query, just like you see with Google.

The easiest way to add Ajax-powered search is by using SearchWP Live Ajax Search. This plugin automatically integrates with SearchWP Modal Search Form and there are no settings for you to configure, so it’s very easy to use.

First, you need to install and activate the SearchWP Live Ajax Search plugin. For more information, please see our step-by-step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Once activated, the plugin will automatically add live search to all your forms. To see the live Ajax search in action, simply visit your WordPress website and type in a search query.

The search results show up as you type.

Live Search Preview

This is a great start, but there are ways to create an even more powerful search experience for your visitors.

Customizing Your WordPress Search Result Algorithm

Do you want to customize your WordPress search results and even highlight promoted items in your search results?

In that case, you’ll need the premium SearchWP plugin that helps you customize your WordPress search algorithm without touching any code.

The SearchWP default search engine settings

For more information, see our complete guide on how to improve WordPress search with SearchWP.

We hope this article helped you learn how to add a search bar to a WordPress menu. You may also want to see our expert pick of the best live chat software for small businesses or see our list of useful tips to speed up WordPress and boost performance.

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Reader Interactions

31 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Hey WPBeginner readers,
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  2. Thanks for this, this plugin worked great and saved me from having to replace or edit my theme again.

  3. These plugins are untested for WP version 5.8.1

    Is it still ok to install them or is there other plugins that are tested for that version?

  4. hi
    This video is very helpful for me.But I want bar menu is like amazon page .Please help me .How do create big search bar like in amazon page

  5. Is there a way to display the results that are generated by the plugin differently? I get a list of images and descriptions but they display images in all different sizes. I would like them to display in the same way as my product pages do with 24 results per page, and 4 columns.
    thank you

    • For customizing the results page you would want to check with the plugin’s support and they should be able to assist.


    • Our theme is custom created so we manually set that up with the creation of the theme :)


  6. Really helpful! I find the default style is not visually pleasing, but the sliding option works a treat. Thanks for this.

  7. I would like the search item to appear as the first item in the menu, not the last. Is this possible?

    • It would depend on your specific theme but if you reach out to the plugin’s support they will be able to help you change the placement :)


  8. Hi,

    How to style the social icons like you did in your site for, with those gaps and lines , i dont know css,


    • It appears the plugin has updated since this article was last updated, we will take a look into updating this post.


    • Thank you for letting us know, it appears the plugin has been renamed since we created this article. We’ll look into updating this :)


  9. Why is every solution on this website a plugin? Plugins bloat websites and slow them down; one would expect you to know that. There are better solutions than installing a plugin for everything!

    • Not sure if it is due to an update but I noticed the same thing. But it seems the option can be found under ‘Ivory Search > Settings’ then you should be presented with the first settings which are ‘Menu search’ and the first expandable option to select a menu to add it to.

  10. Hi,
    Can we choose whether the search appears only for mobile/tablet version and not for desktop?

  11. unfortunately, it doesn’t display correctly as it mess up with the nav menu. I’ve tried different plugins and all of those are the same. For newbie, seems like no other way but asking to the theme developer or professional help to code it manually.

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