Searching PDF's on 64-bit Windows

Office for Mere Mortals
Your beginners guide to the secrets of Microsoft Office
Invalid email address
Tips and help for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook from Microsoft Office experts.  Give it a try. You can unsubscribe at any time.  Office for Mere Mortals has been running for over 20 years, we've never, ever revealed or sold subscriber details.  Privacy policy

To search PDF’s on a 64-bit machine you need a separate download.

The Adobe PDF Reader software isn’t enough on 64-bit Windows computers.

If you’re running a 64-bit version of Windows (any release) you’ll probably find that Windows Search doesn’t find text inside PDF’s. Only file names are searched but not the contents.

That’s seems strange because the free Adobe Reader is supposed to include the iFilter plug-in needed to index inside documents and let them be searched.

Unfortunately, the free download is entirely 32-bit software. A PDF iFilter is installed but it’s the 32-bit one which won’t work on a 64-bit computer.

You need to install a separate 64-bit iFilter from here – the v9 release is the most recent at the time of writing.

To see the status of the PDF iFilter go to Control Panel | Indexing Options | Advanced Options | File Types. Scroll down to the PDF extension. Ideally the PDF extension has ‘PDF Filter’ as the Filter Description and the option ‘Index Properties and File Contents’ is selected.

Windows PDF iFilter image from Searching PDF

After installing any new iFilter, remember to Rebuild the index (Control Panel | Indexing Options | Advanced Options | Index Settings) otherwise it will only index new or modified PDF’s not the ones already on your computer.

Not sure if you’re running 64-bit Windows? There was a time when 64-bit software was a specialty item for computer nerds but now 64-bit Windows 7 and soon Windows 8 is supplied with computers and low-cost laptops.

Go to Control Panel | System and look under System for System Type:

Windows system type 32 or 64 bit image from Searching PDF

This works for Windows 7 and, as you can see, Windows 8.

Latest news & secrets of Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office experts give you tips and help for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook.

Give it a try. You can unsubscribe at any time.  Office Watch has been running for over 20 years, we've never, ever revealed or sold subscriber details.  Privacy policy
Invalid email address