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That last part is already in place. The search supports all standard search modifiers (+ for must include, - for must not include, and "quoted phrases" for exact matches). I feel like, with that in mind, the utility of additional filters would be somewhat limited but it's something I'd consider if there's enough demand for it.
I like to open up the topics list and then open up all the topics I want to read in new tabs. Things is, when I click on a topic title to open it up to read it from post one, when I close it I get thrown back to this:

But when I click on the little arrow next to the title to read the latest unread post, I get thrown back to this:

Notice in image 1 the topic I just came from is underlined, because I clicked it. In image 2, because I clicked on the arrow and not the title, it is not. Can you make it so the title also underlines when you hover over the arrow so it's easier to keep track? Or, make the arrow light up or something?
What you're asking for isn't a feature of the software, it's how your browser handles visited links. When you click the arrow, it's doing the same thing as the text but because the underline on the arrow is hidden, you don't see it. It's not feasible to adjust this behavior on our end because it's browser dependent.

That being said, why is this even something you need if you're opening threads in new tabs? I'm not criticizing, just trying to figure out how you're seeing what you're seeing.
Can't you just add a span container holding the arrow and the title equipped with a :hover attribute with text-decoration:underlined?

I like it because when I've been reading a topic and close it, upon returning to the topic list tab I can quickly see where I left of going down the list, because it'd be underlined. I don't need it, it's just a lot faster than checking the name of the topic I'm in before closing the tab and then looking for it in the list.
I understand its utility when opening links in the same page but if you're already opening all threads in different tabs, I don't see how you ever even notice that underline. Unless you're obly opening one thread at a time? If that's the case, wouldn't it be easier to just open in the same tab and let the read/undead indicator do its job instead?

Either way, that manually set CSS hover wouldn't do anything for you as you won't be hovering over the link when you return to the page. Like I said, this is a browser feature, and an inconsistent one at that.
Doing the one thread at a time thing, yes. It's faster than using one tab, because I only have to load the topic list once, and not every time I go back after having read a thread.

Actually, in Chrome, it doesn't reset the hover thing until your mouse touches the page again. When closing a tab, the cursor is at the top of the window with all the other tabs, and therefore the underline won't reset. I've actually tested it through Chrome's Inspect Element thingy (where you can edit the html of a page) and it works just as I would've imagined.
Now that I understand what you're trying to do, what you're saying makes sense. It's not a browser thing - just an artifact of your mouse never un-hovering after a click. That being said, underlines on images are ugly and hidden intentionally. JavaScript events could be bound to the arrows to activate the underline on the link but that's a lot of work for very little gain.
Well, I'm not asking for an underline on the image of the arrow. I'm asking if you could underline the title of the topic when hovering over the arrow (which is possible with a span).
Adding a span to surround both will produce an underline on the image as well.
But the underline on the image would be hidden, no? Like you said?
Borders are disabled on images specifically. Wrapping an image and a link with a span that has an underline on hover would cause it to show, at least partly. It doesn't seem to appear under the image itself but it does fill the space between the arrow and the link in my extremely brief testing. text-decoration should, in theory, only apply to text but some browsers don't follow the standards too well.
So is that a yes? No?
It's a maybe. Template edits for such minor gain, especially when there is already a built-in solution (albeit with one extra click per thread), just aren't high on my priority list at the moment. My theory is that I can whip up some CSS to select just the link text when activating the hover underline and prevent the space from being included but that's a side project for another day.
I have a question.
Do you plan on bringing back Spamhaul?

There was a lot of discussion about and related to this when we did the forum wipe. I'd recommend looking through that for details.