How To Find People Online

Introduction To Finding People Online

Use these people search tips and how-to's to help find people that you are looking for, including friends, family, classmates, coworkers and military buddies.

Note: Finding criminals and bail jumpers should be left to professional bounty hunters and law enforcement officials.

These free people finder and search engine tips have been created by free people search and public records lookup directory. For the latest people search, public records and web search news, please read our blog.

Here is a good search quote by Robert Herrick to inspire and motivate you on your way to finding the people that you are searching for:

"Attempt the end, and never stand to doubt; Nothing ’s so hard, but search will find it out."

Now, on to the people search tips...

Write Down All Known Personal Information

Before you start an online people search, write down as much personal information about the people or person that you are looking for. Any and all personal identifiers that you can remember and record about the individual(s) will help you to find the person, using both online and real world people search techniques and tools.

Some information that you may want to record about a person before you start a people search includes:

  • First Name
  • Middle Name or Initials
  • Last Name
  • Maiden and Married Last Names for Females
  • Names of Ex Spouses
  • Nicknames or Aliases
  • High School(s) Attended
  • Universities Attended
  • Military Service
  • Personal Hobbies
  • Known Relatives
  • Known Associates, Friends and Coworkers
  • City, State of Birth
  • City, State Raised In
  • Current and Previous Addresses - Rented or Owned
  • All Known Landline or Cell Phone Numbers
  • Professional Background
  • Companies Worked For
  • Organizations Involved With
  • Businesses Owned
  • Any Other Personal Information That You Know

Free Directory Assistance Searches

One of the first online free people finder sites that you should use is a good free 411 directory assistance search.

Two of the most popular directory assistance search sites are -- White Pages and Yellow Pages.

Try running a person's name and any known addresses and residential locations through these sites first to see what you can find.

Try Finding People on ThatsThem or Pipl

Two of the best free online people search engines are That's Them and Pipl. These two people searches collect personal information from numerous data sources, like social networks, consumer data and public records. These searches collect personal information from all over the web and make it easily searchable from their web sites.

Zabasearch People Search

ZabaSearch is one of the web's top free people finder sites. The pulls its people search records from numerous locations and typically contains more people data than other online people search engines.

ZoomInfo Person & Business Search Engine is another free people search engine that contains information regarding a person's professional career and employment. currently contains information on over 40 million people from almost 4 million companies.

Search For People on Social Networking Sites

Social networking is big and any serious search for a person should include the top social networking sites. Start with some of the largest and most popular social networking sites like:


There are other lesser known and used social networks, but these are currently the most popular and the ones most likely to produce some success when looking for a person or people.

Use Blog Search Engines to Find Information on People

Blogs, like social networks, are very popular and provide the user with yet one more free option to do a people search. You can use blog search engines to help locate people, who may have a blog of their own or people who post comments on other people's blogs.

A large number of people either have their own online blogs or post comments other blogs. You can try using some of the larger blog search engines to find information on people. Some of the more popular blog search engine sites include:


Craigslist Missed Connections

If you know a previously good address or location for someone or have an idea where they are living, you can always post a "Looking For" or "Trying to Find" personals ad on under the "Missed Connections" section.

People post pictures as well as first and last names for people they are looking for under the Personals "Missed Connections section on Craigslist in the hopes that the person they are looking for or someone who knows the person will respond to the post.

If you post a "Looking For" ad on Craigslist, make sure to post it in cities where the person or someone who knows the person is likely to be located, like areas where they grew up or have lived previously. WARNING: do NOT post any compromising information about the person, like phone numbers, date of birth, social security number or exact addresses publicly on Craigslist.

Reverse Address Lookup Search

If you have a good current or previous address for a person, you can search a reverse address lookup to possibly find a phone number for that address. This can lead you to the person you are looking for or new residents, tenants or landlords, who may be able to help you find the person you are looking for.

There are a number of reverse address lookups online. You can find a good list of them at our reverse lookup search page.

In addition, you can enter an address into one of the major search engines like Yahoo or Google to find any information associated with it on the web.

Reverse Phone Number Lookup Search

If you have a good current or previous phone number for a person, you can enter it into one of the many reverse phone number lookup searches online to see if there is any address information associated with it. Again, this can lead you to the person you are looking for or at least people who may have some information on their whereabouts, like new residents, tenants or landlords.

Reverse Cell Phone Number Lookups

It is hard to reverse lookup a cell phone number for free online, since most cell phone information is not published. However, the best reverse cell phone number lookups to try is any of the major search engines like Yahoo or Google.

When using Yahoo or Google searches to reverse lookup a cell phone number, just enter the phone number into the search engine and see what results are returned from the search.

Reverse Email Lookup Searches

Email addresses, like cell phone numbers, are also not easy to reverse. Again you will want to try to reverse the email address in a major search engine by entering it into the search engine query box to see what results are returned. If searching the whole email address does not return much information or returns too much information, you can just try searching the user id part of the email address.

For example: You could search for an email with the address of ( ) using the whole address of or you could query the search engine with just the user id ( any_user_id ).

Neighbor & Nearby Searches

Current or former neighbors ( or "nearbys" as they are called in the skip tracing business ) can be invaluable when trying to find a person.

To do a free nearby search on a person, take any current of former address you have for a person and do a reverse address lookup ( making sure to leave out the street number ).

For example: you have an address on someone for [ 3005 Anywhere Lane, Los Angeles, CA ], you can enter this into a reverse address lookup online, making sure to leave out the house number. The reverse address search should return all listings on that street.

Find the returned addresses closest to the address for the person you are looking for and see if the people are neighbors and know anything about the person's whereabouts.

Note: This can get tricky on streets that have strange numbering plans or apartment complexes.

Contact Any Known or Findable Relatives

Do you know or can you remember the names for any of the person's relatives: mother, father, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents or ex spouses who may be able to help you find the person? If so, use this information to find the person you are looking for.

Last Name Only Searches For Finding Possible Relatives

The last tip encouraged you to use known relatives to find the person you are looking for, but here is a way to find possible relatives that you may not know about.

Last name only searches for a person can yield possible relatives, especially if the person you are looking for has an uncommon last name or has lived in small towns and less populated areas.

If the person has an uncommon last name, you can search any 411 Whitepages lookup online, using just the last name ( leave the first name field blank ). You can choose to search all of the US or choose a specific city and/or state that the person has lived in to limit the results. Additionally, if the person was raised in or has lived in smaller towns and less populated areas, you can do a last name only search to find possible relatives in those cities and states.

Mutual Friends, Associates & Contacts

One of the greatest people search tools you have for finding a past friend, classmate, coworker or military buddy is your own personal social and business network.

Even if you have lost contact with someone, it is highly probable that a mutual friend, coworker or associate can help you.

When looking for another person, ask yourself who it is that you both know that may be able to help you find that person.

Inmate Searches & Lookups

It is always possible that the person you are trying to find is incarcerated in a federal or state prison.

You can find a comprehensive listing of state and federal inmate locators and lookups at our inmate search page.

Military Locators & Searches

It is becoming increasingly difficult to locate US military people, especially during times of war.

A list of military locators and searches can be found on our military locator page.

Find A Person's Forwarding Address

If a person has moved from a past address within the last 18 months and has filed a mail forwarding request with the US Post Office, you can easily obtain the new forwarding address by using what is called an "ancillary service endorsement".

Simply send an envelope to the person's old address along with your return address printed on it and the "Return Service Requested" endorsement printed in any one of the areas shown on the example below.

Return Service Requested Envelope

If the person has filed a forwarding address, the envelope will be returned to you with the person's new address printed on it for your records.

You can search for USPS ancillary service endorsements on Google or any other internet search engine for more information on the proper use and placement of ancillary service endorsements on an envelope.

Google People Search

By now, most people know how to use the Google search engine to find people. However, using the information that you know about the person from the first tip should help you refine your Google people search so that you don't have to look through thousands, if not millions, of potential web pages to find the information you are looking for.

Use combinations of the personal information that you wrote down from tip 1 to help you locate a person faster and easier using Google as a free people search tool.

Using Google Maps as a Free People Search Engine

You can also search for people by name on the Google Maps Search at - this works best for finding location and information on professional people and business owners. Use the loc: handle to specify the location in the search box. For example:

  • John Doe loc: Miami, Florida
  • "John Doe" loc: Miami, Florida
  • John Doe loc: Florida
  • "John Doe" loc: Florida

Can you tell the differences between the four different people search queries above?

Try each of them on - some of the above searches are more general and others are more specific both in the person's name and the location of the search.

Yahoo or Google Image Searches to Find a Person

I have found pictures, news articles and information on numerous people from my past by entering their name on the Yahoo and Google Image Search sites.

These two image search sites will return any indexed images associated with a search term or name, which can lead you to the web sites or news article that contains the picture.


Social Security Death Indexes

Another possibility is that the person you are looking for is deceased. There are a number of online options for trying to find information about deceased people, including online obituaries and social security death indexes.

You can find a good list of online searches for finding deceased people on our death index lookup directory.

Use Free Online Public Records to Find People

As federal, state, county and local governments put more public records searches online, it is becoming easier to find people using these public records sites. Typical information includes, state, county and local court sites, county and city tax assessors etc.

To find available public records sites for federal, state, county or city just do a search on for the specific type of public records that you are looking for.

Some examples of public record searches that you can do on include:

  • California Court Records
  • Los Angeles City Government Site
  • Orange County, California Tax Assessor
  • San Diego, California Court Records

Note: Public records quality and availability will vary significantly by state, county and city. The more heavily populated a state, county or city is, the more likely they are to have some type of online public records searches. Less populated cities and counties may not have a web site at all, let alone an online public records search.