re: I have tried various shortcodes but nothing seems to affect the category search.
How specifically do you want it affected? If this is all you mean; “I would like only category 47 and its children to appear in the dropdown. is this possible?” Change the shortcode to this:
[connections category=47 exclude_category='4' parent_category='47' template='circled' enable_category_select=true .....more stuff...]
You may or maynot need to remove the
exclude_category='4' option. That really depends on what you are doing with it.
Also, make sure all plugins are up to date, Connections, Form and Gridder.
re: Also is there a way for the category select to say select a category instead of being blank?