Searching for PDF contents with Windows 7

Windows 7 can search for programs and documents right from the Start menu. It’s not the fastest search one can get with 3rd party programs, but it’s right here and now. No additional programs to install, no new windows to clutter the desktop, no additional hot-keys to memorize.

You may notice that Windows 7 finds some files only by filename while some others also by file contents. This can be checked by running Indexing Options (press the Windows key, type Indexing and click on Indexing Options in the search results). Click Advanced and then the File Types tab. There you can see, which search method is set for each file extension: index properties only or index properties and file contents.

I have discovered that my 64-bit Windows 7 was missing the iFilter to search inside PDF documents. It turns out that one needs a special Adobe extension to do it. Get it here if the link works or just Google for Adobe iFilter download for your platform. Then install it and rebuild the index (Indexing Options > Advanced > Rebuild).

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