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How to Search the Contents of Multiple PDF Files

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It is easy to search the contents of one PDF file or a few PDF files. You simply open whichever PDF reader software you like most, press Ctrl+F and search for your keyword. But what if you need to search the contents of hundreds of PDF files and you don’t have the time and will-power to open and search them all one by one.

There are many solutions available to this problem. The solutions listed in a previous post of mine are not applicable to PDF files because these are not plain-text files.

Adobe Reader

Adobe Reader is probably the most used and most well-known PDF reader out there. You can download it from here.

To search in multiple PDF files, launch Adobe Reader and press Ctrl+Shift+F.

adobe-reader-search

Adobe Reader Search

The Search window appears where you can enter the keyword and browse to the folder where you would like the search to be performed.

After clicking on the Search button a Security Warning will pop up, asking you whether you want to allow Adobe Reader read access to your drives. Click Allow.

The results of the search will appear in the same window.

adobe-reader-search-results

Adobe Reader Search Results

At the bottom of the Search window, untick the Collapse file paths box to see the full path names to the files in the results.

If you click on a PDF file’s name in the results, that file will automatically open in an Adobe Reader window. The search keyword will be highlighted within the document.

Foxit Reader

Foxit Reader is a small PDF reading software that has all the capabilities of Adobe Reader. You can download it from here.

The steps required are exactly the same as with Adobe Reader. You launch Foxit Reader, press Ctrl+Shift+F, type the search keyword, select the folder where the PDF files you wish to search are located, and click on the Search button.

foxit-reader-search-results

Foxit Reader Search Results

The only difference is that the results will show up much faster in Foxit Reader than in Adobe Reader.

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