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This question already has an answer here:

Here is my scenario and system:

System: Win-7, 64-bit.

Scenario: Very simply, I have a folder on my Dropbox account, titled \Papers. Within this folder, I have a lot of PDF files, and I have even more sub-folders of various names, also with PDF files.

What I want to do, is simply enter a search word, and have something return all the PDFs starting in the \Papers root directory that have that keyword.

Is there something that does this seamlessly and nicely? My only other option is to go through my hundreds of PDFs one by one and attempt to sort them like that. I would rather not do that.

P.S. I am open to moving all my PDFs to a cloud storage service that might in fact have such nice search capabilities. If that is easier to do, feel free to bring my attention to it. I am currently only aware of Dropbox and Google Drive.

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marked as duplicate by Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, Scott, Brad Patton, Tog, 8088 Apr 18 '13 at 16:13

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

Are you looking for something to search through the content of your PDF files, or just the filenames? – Satoh Apr 18 '13 at 0:53
@Satoh Search through the content of each PDF file yes, not just filenames. – Manchine Apr 18 '13 at 1:09
@Satoh For example, suppose I am in my directory \Papers. So I input the word 'ducks' into this magic blackbox, and it will return a list of all PDF files from root directory \Papers and any subdirectory underneath it, that have the word 'ducks' anywhere in the PDF file. – Manchine Apr 18 '13 at 1:10
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Foxit Reader is a great PDF viewer that has a very useful, fast search engine. I have used it many times when looking for a keyword through hundreds of PDF documents. It is also free.

It is simple to search for a string of characters in multiple documents as follows:

  1. Click "Search" on the left side in the Find ribbon. Then a search bar will pop up on the right side.
  2. Type what you want to search for in the top text box and state which directory to search in.
  3. Click "Search".
  4. Done!
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This is very nice... already downloaded and tried - looks like it does what I am looking for very nicely! – Manchine Apr 18 '13 at 1:25
Awesome! I'm glad my answer was able to assist you. If you wouldn't mind, click the check mark to the left of my answer to accept it so others can see this answer was what helped you. I don't know if you can do this now since it is only one hour after you asked the questions, but when you can, it would be much appreciated. – David Apr 18 '13 at 1:51
Yes, I was simply waiting for any other possible answers before accepting yours. – Manchine Apr 18 '13 at 3:23
@Manchine; Ahh, I see... You can always change the accepted answer, but I am sure you already know that since you have higher rep on other stack exchange sites... – David Apr 18 '13 at 3:57
yes I know that, however in my experience, accepting an answer has a psychological affect of dampening others' motivations to post an answer, so I didnt want to discourage anyone else prematurely. :-) – Manchine Apr 18 '13 at 15:39

Use the native Windows-Search with a special "Filter" for PDFs, eg



There "should" be an IFilter for PDFs as part of Adobe Reader 9 and Adobe Reader XI:


Include your Dropbox- or GoogleDrive-Folder into the search-index and done. This allows you to search directly from within Windows-Explorer. Read more about the options for the indexer:

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This would be my preferred solution if it weren't very expensive ($450 shareware). – MikeFHay Apr 18 '13 at 10:21
there was a desktop-version not long ago, i bought it 2 months ago for 17€. that part is now bundled with foxit-phantom-pdf-6, retail price: 89$ – akira Apr 18 '13 at 11:27
Akira, I might be boneheading something, because I did install the iFilter for PDFs, but... nothing comes up. (I added everything to path, restarted, etc), but how to search within PDFs escaped me using it. – Manchine Apr 18 '13 at 14:44
you have to tell the windows-search-indexer to use the ifilter. see… and… – akira Apr 18 '13 at 14:53

You may need to consider a reference manager like Mendeley.

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Hmm, watched the video and seems good... would you recommend it? I have everything on my dropbox. When they organize it for me, how/where would the papers be? – Manchine Apr 18 '13 at 1:25

Below are some solutions which can search inside not just PDFs but files of all types (plus inside address books, local emails, etc.):

  • Copernic Desktop Search
  • The Search box at the bottom when you click on Windows 7's Start button
  • Google Desktop Search

I think Copernic is better than Windows 7 Search, which in my testing found some but not all files. Google Desktop Search did not miss anything, but since 2011 it's no longer supported.

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