I need something that can quickly search through many .txt, .pdf, and .doc files (.djvu also preferable). Can anyone here name or recommend such a tool (Windows platform) ?

  • Just to clarify: you need something that can search through only those kinds of files? – Isxek Aug 18 '09 at 22:27
  • 2
    @Isxek - well, I need those files. Ability to search through some other as well won't hurt. – Rook Aug 18 '09 at 22:38

13 Answers 13


PowerGREP is another suggestion.

From their website:

PowerGREP is a powerful Windows grep tool. Quickly search through large numbers of files on your PC or network, including text and binary files, compressed archives, MS Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PDF files, OpenOffice files, etc. Find the information you want with powerful text patterns (regular expressions) specifying the form of what you want, instead of literal text.

It's not free, (it costs $149) but it appears to be the best fit for what you're looking for (except the DJVU one - I haven't found anything that can search through them yet.)

  • Heh, just before I saw this answer I stumbled upon it, and it indeed looks to be able to search through pdf's without the gibberish. – Rook Aug 19 '09 at 0:51

agent ransack. ( just google it)

has the advantage that it searches pretty fast on networked drives too.

  • When I use it to search for a word in a directory full of pdf's, it gives me gibberish in the preview window. Is it supposed to work like that ? – Rook Aug 18 '09 at 23:22
  • haven't used it on pdf recently so may well do. commercial version has additional support ( may do better on pdf) – Tim Williscroft Aug 19 '09 at 4:58
  • Make sure you have the 'PDF format' option checked in the Options tab – snowdude Jan 25 '12 at 11:10

I use WinGrep for this purpose. Free, small, works really good.


Agent Ransack 2010

  • I just tried this one out today since I still had the older version installed - it's able to find text within PDFs. – Isxek Sep 9 '10 at 18:48



I used the Copernic Desktop Search for a while. It even manages to search through email attachments.

  • I recommend Copernic too... Being using it for few months and its the best i've come across. Used Google Desktop and Blinkx but Copernic is free and really useful. Indexes all the contents of pdf,doc,docx, cs, vb (programming too!) + much more. The best feature is it shows when you search, the exact location where the text you search is... – Ranhiru Jude Cooray Aug 17 '10 at 15:42

I use Agent Ransack at work. It works pretty awesome and tries to search through binary files as well. It will find text in FLA's and has the ability to use regular expressions.


I use AstroGrep:

AstroGrep is a Microsoft Windows grep utility. Grep is a UNIX command-line program which searches within files for keywords. AstroGrep supports regular expressions, versatile printing options, stores most recently used paths and has a "context" feature which is very nice for looking at source code.

.. and the best: it's free.


  • Not bad, but it still has problems going through pdf files. Gibberish and not finding all matches. – Rook Aug 19 '09 at 2:25
  • it doesn't search inside pdf (I just tried it) – JinSnow Nov 13 '15 at 7:32

I'd suggest you look at File Content Finder (disclaimer - I'm its developer). It's specifically designed for searching file contents without indexing. It supports all major file formats - pdf, doc(x), xls(x), pptx, rtf, and others.

Its filtering lets you optimise and refine your search by multiple criteria - file type, creation/modification dates, etc.

You can get it from the Mac App Store or the Microsoft Store.

Agent Ransack is a similar app, but only works on Windows and supports fewer file formats (doesn't support doc files!).


Google Desktop Search and DjVu plugin.


I have your answer!!! You need to install cygwin for windows. This will let you use *Unix commands in a windows environment and it is totally free. Once you get it installed you can use the regular 'grep' function to search anything you want.

Here is the download link: http://www.cygwin.com/setup.exe

  • afaik, grep doesn't do pdf and doc files. – Rook Aug 19 '09 at 2:21

Windows Search 4.0 for Windows XP (KB940157) will bring the Vista/7 searching experience to XP. ;-)


I use windows power shell. It works when searching for strings in txt and doc. Not sure about pdf files though.

The command I use is as follow:

Get-ChildItem -Recurse | Select-String "find this string"

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