How to Search PDF on Google (or any Searchable File types Indexed by Google)


Looking for a specific document on the Internet can be difficult sometimes. Many search keywords will return hundreds of Web pages, especially in popular subject areas. Google labels all PDF (Adobe Portable Document Format) files in the search results under each title. However, going through many pages to find the PDF files can be time-consuming and exhausting. Save time by restricting Google search to return PDF documents.

List of Searchable File Types Indexed by Google

Most types of pages and files can be indexed by Google. The following are the most common indexed file types:

  • Adobe Portable Document Format (.pdf)
  • Adobe Flash (.swf)
  • Adobe PostScript (.ps)
  • Autodesk Design Web Format (.dwf)
  • Google Earth (.kml, .kmz)
  • GPS eXchange Format (.gpx)
  • Hancom Hanword (.hwp)
  • HTML (.htm, .html, other file extensions)
  • Microsoft Excel (.xls, .xlsx)
  • Microsoft PowerPoint (.ppt, .pptx)
  • Microsoft Word (.doc, .docx)
  • OpenOffice presentation (.odp)
  • OpenOffice spreadsheet (.ods)
  • OpenOffice text (.odt)
  • Rich Text Format (.rtf)
  • Scalable Vector Graphics (.svg)
  • TeX/LaTeX (.tex)
  • Text (.txt, .text, other file extensions), including source code in common programming languages:
    • Basic source code (.bas)
    • C/C++ source code (.c, .cc, .cpp, .cxx, .h, .hpp)
    • C# source code (.cs)
    • Java source code (.java)
    • Perl source code (.pl)
    • Python source code (.py)
  • Wireless Markup Language (.wml, .wap)
  • XML (.xml)

How to Search PDF files on Google?

If you’re looking for only PDF files on Google (or XLS, or DOC, or any other format), you’ll need to understand how to use Google’s specific search commands (Google Search Operators).

Google advanced search operator filetype: restricts the search to a specific file type. Placing search terms or keywords on either side of the operator brings nearly the same search results.

Assume you’re looking for a PDF of the CIRS Certification Syllabus. How do you use Google?

As illustrated in the figure below, you can see PDF files for CIRS Certification Syllabus.

CIRS Certification Syllabus

How to Search two search terms and only one within quotes?

With two search phrases in quotes and without, the term inside the quote is prioritized. If the term inside quotations is not found for whatever reason, the search will default to pages containing terms outside of quotes.

search terms

How to Search PDF files on Google within a given website domain? (or any other filetype)

To find PDF files on a specific website (or any other type of file), you’ll use another special command with the filetype operator.

Let’s try this out: Let’s say you want to look for a PDF about the Certified Internet Research Specialist on the website. What are you going to do?

Want to learn more advanced search queries to find any PDF from the large index of google? The CIRS Certification course covers advanced search methods and techniques, as well as how to use Advanced Search Operators and Effective Search Phrases to build complex web search queries in a range of situations and search requirements.

Certified Internet Research

How to Search for XLS Format?

This searches for Excel Formula Sheets in XLS format.

  • Go to GOOGLE
  • Type the following query into the search bar filetype:xls Excel Formula Sheet Then, press ENTER.
  • You will see all the xls results.

XLS Format

Other file types Indexable by Google

PDFs are simply one of several file types that Google can index. Google can index the content of almost any form of page or file, including Adobe Flash, Microsoft documents such as Excel and Docs, Rich Text Format, OpenOffice documents, PowerPoint, and various programming languages.

You can use the filetype: operator in Google Search. For example, filetype:rtf galway will search for RTF files with the term “galway” in them and do the same for other file types.

You can find a complete list of indexable files here.


How to Search for Words or Phrases in a PDF Document?

Use any PDF viewer to perform a word search on a PDF document or open any PDF with your default PDF viewer. CMD+F (Mac) or CTRL+F (Windows). In the text field, type your search term. The first match will be highlighted. To switch between results, use Enter or the right arrow.


Is there a Google PDF viewer available?

Google PDF Viewer is a free application designed for use on the Android mobile platform as part of Google’s Android for Work program. The program is almost entirely contained on a single screen and loads instantly whenever you open a PDF, whether from your Downloads folder or another app.

How can I perform a PDF search on my iPhone?

Open the PDF viewer and then the PDF file you wish to search on your iPhone. In the upper right corner of your screen, you’ll find a magnifying glass. Simply press the magnifying glass and begin typing the text you’re looking for. Use the pop-up window to navigate through the search results.

How can I search for PDFs that are not searchable?

When a PDF is made from an image rather than a typed document, the PDF file does not contain searchable text by default. If the source image has a resolution of at least 72 dpi, you can use Adobe Acrobat’s built-in Optical Character Recognition (OCR) capabilities to convert the PDF.

How can I use the find feature on a scanned PDF?

After using the Paper Capture plug-in to process the pages of your PDF document, use the Find tool (Ctrl+F on Windows and Command key+F on Mac) to search for specific terms or phrases in the text to confirm it is searchable.

How can I open a PDF file saved in Google Drive?

Go to your Google Drive account and sign in. Once inside, click the “Upload” button to upload files to your account. This allows you to view the PDF file on your computer. After you’ve uploaded the file, right-click it and choose “Open With > Google Docs.”

How can I search for text within a PDF image?

Simply open your PDF in Adobe Acrobat and select the “Edit PDF” option from the right-side menu. The converting procedure may take several minutes, depending on the size of your file; when you’re finished, press Ctrl+F to search the text.


Finally, We hope you found this guide on Searching PDFs on Google helpful. We have created a list of the best PDF search engines that are available on the web. These search engines will assist you in locating all of the numerous free e-books, tutorials, magazines, and other PDF files published on the Internet for free viewing and non-commercial reasons.


[Source: This article was first published in Association of Internet Research]


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