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How To Search In A PDF

The PDF is everyone's favorite document format for sharing files. That's because it retains its formatting and graphics faithfully on all devices. However, everything has a downside, and PDFs aren't an exception. One of the significant downsides of PDFs is that they don’t allow you to search for text as conveniently as other file formats such as Microsoft Word… until you read this guide.


Suppose you're dealing with a document with hundreds of pages, and you've got to find a specific sentence in it. When you're drowning in paperwork, you can't manually look for that text on your document. Sounds like a headache, right? Well, fortunately, searching for a piece of text in a PDF is possible.

Whether you’re a student, you’re working for a company, or you simply need to look through a document, knowing how to look through a document is essential. With this in mind, in this post, we'll explain the easiest ways that you can use to search for words in PDFs. So, let's go!

How To Search In A PDF

Anyone looking for a simple way to search PDFs should definitely try a good PDF reader, such as Adobe Reader. It's a tool that lets you find words in PDFs. Not just that, the program even lets you display, print, and share PDFs. Isn't it amazing?

Here are the steps to follow to look for a word in PDFs using Adobe Reader:

  1. Open the file in Reader.
  2. Press CMD + F (for Mac) or CTRL + F (for Windows).
  3. Once you've pressed the shortcut keys, a text box will appear. Type in the search term here.
  4. The first match will be emphasized, and you can press "Enter" or press the right arrow key to navigate to the next match. Similarly, you can press the left arrow key to go back.

Once you're done, you can edit your file using an online PDF editor.

Search in PDF

What You Need To Know About Searching In A PDF

These are some useful points to keep in mind while looking for words in PDFs:

  • You can choose whether to make your search case sensitive or not. If you don't, then all instances of the word or phrase will be found, regardless of whether they're in upper or lower cases. However, if you make your search case sensitive, then the software will take into account the capital letters you use (or don't use).
  • Of course, it's vital to enter the correct spelling, or else the program won't show the expected results.
  • Remember to search with the right spacing. For instance, if the sentence you want has one space but you've put two spaces, you won’t find the text you’re after.
  • Also, remember to use grammar correctly, such as commas and full stops, if these form part of the text fragment you’re looking for.

Which Programs Allow You To Search In A PDF

An online tool is undoubtedly the best option to look through PDFs. However, if you're looking for alternatives, please find some below. We've found options for a number of different devices from PCs and Macs to smartphones.

Search In A PDF On A Computer

In general, this task is a lot easier when you do it on a computer (Linux, Mac, or Windows). So, let's look at how to search in PDFs on different computer operating systems.

Windows 10 And Prior Versions Of Windows

If you're a Windows user, then as we explain above, you can use Adobe Acrobat Reader to look for text in a PDF file. This is as simple as opening your document in Reader, searching for the text, then letting the software identify it. If the program doesn't identify any results, try to adjust your search, or maybe the text just isn't there.


Looking for a word in a PDF is simple with a Mac operating system. That's because Macs come with an in-built app called "Preview," which enables you to search PDFs quickly and easily. That way, you don't have to install any new programs on your device.


If you're a Linux user, searching in a PDF can be difficult. However, there are ways to do it. You can use the command "pdfgrep" to carry out this particular task. It's the most used command that Linux users employ to do so.

Search In A PDF On A Smartphone Or Tablet

If you're looking for ways to search in a PDF file on your smartphone or tablet, you're in the right place. In this section, we'll talk about the best ways to do so.


For users trying to look through a PDF file on an Android device, Adobe Reader is one of the best tools in the market. It's a subscription-based program that allows you to find words in PDFs, among many other functions. The best part is that Reader is easy to use, so you can quickly carry out this task.

iPhone (iOS) Or iPad

If you want to search in a PDF on iPhone (iOS) or iPad, numerous applications in the Apple App Store can help you carry out this task. You only need to search for "PDF searcher" and you'll see tons of programs. You can use applications like Adobe Acrobat Reader or iAnnotate PDF.

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Husain has been around the internet ever since the dial-up days and loves writing about everything across the technosphere. He loves taking tech apart and see what makes them tick, without necessarily putting it all back together.
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