Note Pagefind is no longer used on this site, due to a theme change.

I was made aware of Pagefind via a post by Bryce Wray.

Pagefind is…

Pagefind is a fully static search library that aims to perform well on large sites, while using as little of your users’ bandwidth as possible, and without hosting any infrastructure.

They had me at “…without hosting any infrastructure”. The theme I used to use included a nice search using Lunr. My new theme uses Algolia, which I don’t love because it involves a separate, commercial service and requires rebuilding and pushing an updated index to the Algolia service every time I post something.

As an alternative to Algolia, I thought I’d try Pagefind. Turns out it’s quite good and very easy to implement. Here’s a quick summary of what I did to add Pagefind search here at

First, I created a search page at /search/. The search form looks like this:

<link href="/_pagefind/pagefind-ui.css" rel="stylesheet">
<script src="/_pagefind/pagefind-ui.js" type="text/javascript"></script>
<div id="search"></div>
    window.addEventListener('DOMContentLoaded', (event) => {
        new PagefindUI({ element: "#search", 
        showImages: false,

The only change there from the default is the addition of showImages: false;. This is a new option which disables image thumbnails on the search results. I found it much faster to leave images out.

Then, to build the index, I run the following:

npx pagefind --source "public"

Pagefind publishes a wrapper package through npm, so running the above takes care of everything, no installation required. Eventually I’ll run it via a local binary. Since Pagefind is built using Rust, it’s just a single binary with no other dependencies. I love not having dependencies.

And that’s all I needed to have search up and running on my site.

However, I noticed that it was indexing everything, including the home page, tag listing, category pages, etc. This was too much, so I needed to add data-pagefind-body to the “article-wrapper” div, like so… <div class="article-wrapper u-cf single" data-pagefind-body>. Here’s what that does (from the docs):

If data-pagefind-body is found anywhere on your site, any pages without this attribute will be removed from your index. This means that if you tag your blog post layout with data-pagefind-body, other pages like your homepage will no longer appear in search results. This is usually what you want — if not, just add data-pagefind-body there as well.

Pagefind docs

That made the results much cleaner.

All that remained was to make sure the index was updated when publishing. I don’t use any fancy CI business for publishing. I use rsync to copy the /public folder up to my server.

I simply added the npx command to my Makefile, which now looks like this:

.PHONY: build checkpoint deploy

	rm -rf $PUBLIC_DIR
	hugo --gc --minify
	npx -y pagefind --source public
	git add .
	git diff-index --quiet HEAD || git commit -m "Publish checkpoint"

deploy: build checkpoint
	git push
	@echo "\033[0;32mDeploying updates to $(TARGET)...\033[0m"
	rsync -v -rz --checksum --delete --no-perms $(PUBLIC_DIR) $(SERVER_HOST):$(SERVER_DIR)

For my blog, it takes less than half a second to generate the necessary indexes:

Running Pagefind v0.5.3
Running from: "/Users/jbaty/sites/blog"
Source:       "public"
Bundle Directory:  "_pagefind"
Walking source directory...
Building search indexes...
Found a data-pagefind-body element on the site.
↳ Ignoring pages without this tag.
Indexed 291 pages
Indexed 5405 words
Indexed 0 filters
Created 5 index chunks
Finished in 0.430 seconds

So far this works swimmingly. Try it yourself and let me know if you have any issues.