Mongoose: Find documents that match any of the given values

Updated: December 30, 2023 By: Guest Contributor Post a comment


Mongoose is a popular object modeling package for Node.js that simplifies interaction with MongoDB. One of the essential tasks when working with databases is querying a collection to retrieve documents that match certain criteria. Being able to select documents based on a range of values is a common requirement, and Mongoose provides a powerful mechanism for this: the $in operator within queries.

This tutorial explores how to use the $in operator in Mongoose to find documents matching any of several values. Structured to be both a primer for beginners and a comprehensive guide for experienced developers, it includes examples ranging from basic to advanced use cases.

Prerequisites: You should have Node.js installed, be familiar with JavaScript (preferably ES6 and later), and have a basic understanding of MongoDB and Mongoose.

Getting Started

First, let’s set the ground by initializing Mongoose and connecting to the desired MongoDB.

import mongoose from 'mongoose';
mongoose.connect('mongodb://localhost:27017/mydatabase', { useNewUrlParser: true, useUnifiedTopology: true });

Once connected, define a Mongoose schema that we will query against:

const bookSchema = new mongoose.Schema({
    title: String,
    author: String,
    genres: [String]

const Book = mongoose.model('Book', bookSchema);

Basic Usage of $in

Let’s say you want to find all books in certain genres. That’s where the $in operator comes into play. It’s like asking, “Get me books where any of the genres match my list of interesting genres.” Here’s an example:

const findBooksByGenre = async (genreList) => {
    return await Book.find({ genres: { $in: genreList } });

You can call this function with an array of genres:

// Example genres to find
const genres = ['science fiction', 'fantasy'];

findBooksByGenre(genres).then(books => {
    console.log('Matching books:', books);
}).catch(err => {

Combining $in with Other Criteria

Searching just by genres may sometimes give you a too broad set of results. Often, you’d want to narrow it down further, perhaps by also specifying an author’s name:

const findBooksByGenreAndAuthor = async (genreList, authorName) => {
    return await Book.find({ 
        genres: { $in: genreList }, 
        author: authorName

This expands your query to look for books in the specified genres and by the determined author.

Using $in with Other Operators

Complex queries can involve $in alongside other Mongoose-specific query operators. For instance, querying for books by several authors and published in a range of years:

const findBooksByAuthorsAndYears = async (authorList, startYear, endYear) => {
    return await Book.find({ 
        author: { $in: authorList },
        publishedYear: { $gte: startYear, $lte: endYear } 

Note the usage of $gte (greater than or equal) and $lte (less than or equal) operators for numeric range queries.


For advanced querying, you can combine $in with additional aggregation features, text searches, or even geospatial queries, allowing for even more robustness and flexibility in your applications.

Optimization is crucial for the performance of database operations. Properly indexing your MongoDB collection will accelerate the $in queries. Mongoose queries can similarly be chained with .lean() if you only need the raw JSON objects without Mongoose documents wrapping, which can yield a performance benefit.

Encountering issues when running queries is normal. The usual debugging practices of checking the syntax, ensuring the database connection is healthy, verifying collection and document structures, and confirming indexes apply here as anywhere else.


In this guide, we traversed the details of using the $in operator with Mongoose to query for documents close to real-world use cases. With this basis, you should be comfortable implementing your tailored queries, improving their performance, and troubleshooting common issues.

Note that this tutorial intended to focus on queries using the $in operator with Mongoose, thus providing a partial yet crucial view into querying with Mongoose.
Please ensure your familiarity with the Mongoose documentation to expand on the patterns and methods discussed herein.