Advanced Search in Foxit PhantomPDF

by Wim Temmerman, Vice President Sales EMEA

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The PDF format’s flexibility gives you the easy ability to search the content of one or more documents. And Foxit PhantomPDF is designed to support this advanced search function.

With Foxit you can search a string in a single file, multiple files under a specified folder, files in a PDF portfolio, or a PDF index. Your search results appear in a tree view for previewing the context and jumping to specific locations. You can make your life easier by saving your text and pattern search results as a PDF or CSV. Here’s how.

Searching for text and patterns

Advanced search begins with specifying search preferences: File Preferences Search. Define your search field by responding to the “Where would you like to search?” prompt with one of these options:

  • In the current PDF document is available when a document is open. Otherwise this option is grayed out.
  • All PDF documents in lets you search all text within a specific folder or disk. Foxit PhantomPDF shows the path of the currently opened document to help you locate it.
  • Selected PDFs in portfolio is available for selecting documents when a portfolio is opened.
  • All PDFs in portfolio is available for searching text when a PDF portfolio is opened.
  • Select Index lets you quickly search the index of an entire document set if your individual or collected PDF documents include a full-text index. If you’ve already added indexes in Foxit PhantomPDF, you can also choose Currently Selected Indexes.

Matching words, phrases, and patterns

Select one of these search criteria from the dropdown list under File Location:

  • Match exact word or phrase (including spaces) in the text search box.
  • Match any of the words in your search.
  • Looks like search pattern finds specific phone numbers, social security numbers, or email addresses within PDF files (but not PDF indexes).
  • Match all of the words in the search box (but not necessarily in the order you typed them). If the document doesn’t contain all of these words, then no matched results will be found. This option searches only full-text PDF indexes.
  • You can also use the What word or phrase would you like to search for box, the Select your pattern dropdown list, and the Country/Region dropdown list.

Additional search criteria

Foxit PhantomPDF provides these search options in a series of checkboxes, collapsed by default. Click More to show all the options.

For text search only:

  • Whole Words Only: If you search for “read”, you won’t get “reader”.
  • Case-Sensitive: If you search for “text”, you won’t get “Text” and “TEXT.”
  • Selecting Include Comments, Include Bookmarks, Include Attachments will search these peripheral areas as well as the main text.

For wider use:

  • Proximity searches for two or more words separated by </= the number of words you specify. Available when Match of All of the Words is selected in index search.
  • Stemming: If you search for “opening”, you’ll also get “open”, “opened”, and “opens”. For text and index searches; unavailable if either Whole Words Only or Case-Sensitive is selected.
  • Highlight All Text
  • Use these additional criteria offers options like author, date created, subject, and other document properties and metadata. Available only for advanced text searches in multiple PDFs.

Saving search results

Click Save in the searchpanel and choose Save results to PDF or Save results to CSV. To start a new search task, click New Search.

General tips

When you click Search, each item listed on the search panel includes a few words of context and an icon indicating the type of occurrence. Check search results with the following steps:

  • The plus (+) expands search results.
  • Sort By, a drop-down list, offers advanced search by date modified, filename, or location in multiple PDFs or portfolios.
  • Collapse File Path offers a quick view of relevant file names.
  • Click on a search result to view it in the PDF file.

Each search automatically includes layers, form fields, and digital signatures in the document. If any results occur on a hidden layer, you can make it visible by responding to a Search panel prompt when selecting desired results.

To find or edit text in a scanned or image-based PDF, you must convert the content into searchable or editable text using the OCR feature.

With Foxit PhantomPDF, you’ll always find what you’re searching for.


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