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Pressing Ctrl+f in the layer window shows a popup in the same window. It looks like a search dialog but it doesn't work.

Does anyone know how to search for layers by name in inkscape ?

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This was a bug in Inkscape where the search mechanism was looking in the wrong column of the layers window - ie column 1 (visibility) instead of column 3 (names)

If you have some layers hidden and some shown, then searching for t or f will highlight the first visible or hidden layer because the text in column 1 of the layers list is t for true (visible) and f for false (not visible).

I can confirm this has been fixed in the development branches, but if you're using the standard download of the 0.48.4 installer, this will not currently work as intended and there is no other way I know of to search for layers - sorry!

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