I had a user who needed to search for a keyword within a bunch of different PDF documents. There were about 150 files from the past three years and they needed to sort out the ones that included a receipt from a certain company. She had tried using Windows Search and the “search for text within” feature but wasn’t getting any results. The issue there is that the files aren’t just text files or other formats of plain text, they’re PDFs. So, we’ll need something that understands how to read .pdf files. Fortunately, Adobe Reader X has a tool built into it that will do exactly what we need.
What we’re looking for is the Advanced Search feature. You’ll find it under the Edit menu near the bottom.
When you click on that, a new window will pop up as a column running along your Adobe Reader window. If you had a PDF open, you could use the top option to search within the current document but we’re looking to search a folder of PDF files, so we choose the second option ‘All PDF Documents in’. You then use the drop-down to browse to your folder. You can enter your search and configure some further parameters to narrow down your search results to exactly what you’re looking for.
While the browse directory can see mapped drives, I had the search feature lock up on me when I tried to search across the network. Since the user only needed results from the current year, I copied all of those files to a local, temporary directory and searched there. That was productive anyways to reduce the number of results.
Conducting the search, the results will be shown in a little pane below the search options and you can click on a matching file and it will open to the right for your quick inspection if it’s what you’re looking for. This solved the problem for my user and she went from having to manually open and inspect each file to filtering down the few files she needed in a matter of seconds.