09 May in  How-to tutorials

How to Search PDFs for Keywords and Increase Your Efficiency


How to Search pdfs

You receive a Skype message from a colleague letting you know you need to update an article. The version listed is last years model and we need this document up to date… yesterday. It’s a 324-page file. You can give up a day reading through this monster, or you can learn how to search PDFs for keywords.


The search tool in every app has helped many people avoid reading boring things they don’t care about. Why do all that … when the words you care about can be highlighted with a few clicks. 


Why Write an Article on How to Search PDFs?


This isn’t a ground breaking revelation. We’re even certain most grandmothers know that if you hold down the CTRL key and click F you can search. That’s why we’re going to cover all the functionality surrounding searching a PDF file.


Soda PDF has a few search options available. We’ll go through each of them so you can find out the best option for you. 


Option 1 – Quick Search


You’ll find a quick search option located at the bottom left corner of the Soda PDF window.


Quick Option How to Search PDFs


  1. Click into the search bar.
  2. Type the word you are looking for.
  3. Click Enter.

Every instance of the word will be highlighted in your document.


quick highlight keyword how to search pdfs


  1. Click the up or down arrows to cycle through the results.


cycle through results how to search pdfs


Option 2 – Standard Search 


The next option is your more standard search. The bread and butter when thinking of how to search PDFs.

  1. You can open it by selecting the CTRL key and then pressing or you can click on the search option.
  2. Type your search term into the box.
  3. Then click the magnifying glass icon (or the Enter key).


standard option how to search pdfs


You’ll see a list of any time this term appears in your document.

  1. Clicking on any of the words in the list will bring you directly to it in your PDF.


standard results how to search pdfs


You do make any changes to your PDF, you will need to search again.


There are a couple of search options available.

  1. Click arrow next to the magnifying glass.
    1. Check the box next to Case-sensitive to get the search bar to consider whether capital letters are used.
    2. By default, the search tool will consider if your term partially matches a term. (It will show all instances of Lorem if you search for Orem). Check the box next to Whole words only to make the search look only for an exact match of your term.


standard settings how to search pdfs


Search and Replace


We are moving into the advanced side of how to search PDFs for keywords. While in the search tool, you can easily switch to Search and Replace mode.


This will look for any instance of your search term and swap it for your new one.

  1. Click into Search and Replace mode.
  2. Type the existing term into the Search box.
  3. Click on the magnifying glass icon or click the Enter key.


replace term how to search pdfs


You’ll see a familiar list of all the search terms in your document. Clicking on any will bring you right to that term so you can verify where this instance of the term appears in your document.


This version of the list has check boxes next to them. When you continue to replace the word, it will swap any term with a checked box.

  1. Type the new term into the Replace box.
  2. Check/uncheck the boxes next to the terms as needed.
  3. Click Replace at the bottom to make the swap.


choose to replace how to search pdfs


You’ll see how all the terms are now updated.


replaced terms how to search pdfs


Search and Redact


The last feature in our how to search PDFs guide is the search and redact tool. For more information on redacting PDFs, you can click here.


This feature behaves almost exactly like the search and replace tool.

  1. Choose the Search and Redact option.
  2. Enter the term you want to redact.
  3. Click the Enter key or the magnifying glass.


redact how to search pdfs


You’ll see a familiar list of terms with the check boxes. This time checking a box will mark it for redaction.

  1. Click the term to verify where it is in your file.
  2. Check the box to tell Soda PDF to redact the term.
  3. Click Create to proceed to the next step.
    1. At this step you are not redacting.


mark for redaction how to search pdfs


You can now verify all the right terms are marked correctly.

  1. Click Apply to redact your search terms.


apply redaction how to search pdfs


Well that’s that. That’s how to search PDFs for keywords. Feel free to download Soda PDF and try out searching your documents.



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