How To Fix PDF Search In Windows 7 and Windows 8 64-Bit

How To Fix PDF Search In Windows 7 and Windows 8 64-Bit

One of the best things about modern operating systems like Mac OS X and Windows 7 and 8 is that search, particularly PDF search, is built right in. You don’t need to have a third party tool to search the contents of a searchable PDF – the OS will do it for you.

That is, unless you are running the 64-bit version of Windows 7 or Windows 8.

It is fairly common for DocumentSnap readers to write in with questions/problems, but it is pretty handy when a reader writes in with both the problem and the solution, which is exactly what superstar DocumentSnap reader Matt did recently.

Matt had a problem: He was scanning all these OCR’ed PDFs, but Windows Search was not finding them when he typed a keyword in the document. It would only find it if he typed in the name of a file, which pretty much defeats the purpose of Optical Character Recognition. Not having a Windows machine at the time I was flying blind, but we went back and forth and eventually he figured out what the issue was: an iFilter (but I am getting ahead of myself here).

What Is 64 Bit Windows And Do I Have It?

There are basically two types of Windows: 32-bit and 64-bit. I’ll let Microsoft describe the difference:

The terms 32-bit and 64-bit refer to the way a computer’s processor (also called a CPU), handles information. The 64-bit version of Windows handles large amounts of random access memory (RAM) more effectively than a 32-bit system.

It used to be that only high-end computers were 64-bit, but that has changed. This cheap Acer laptop I am writing this on is 64-bit, for example. How can you tell which kind of Windows you have?

On Windows 7:

  • Click the Start button.
  • Right-click on Computer, choose Properties.
  • You will see an entry for System Type which will give you the information that you need.

windows 7 properties

On Windows 8:

  • Open the Control Panel.
  • Click/Tap System/Security
  • Click/Tab System
  • There’ll be an entry for System type that will say 64 or 32 bits

If you are having problems with PDF search and your System type says 32-bit, you can probably stop reading. This post likely won’t help you.

What Is The Problem?

Windows 7 and 8’s search capabilities are pretty good, but for some reason the 64-bit has a problem indexing PDF files. Windows Search uses something called an iFilter to help it index files, and the PDF iFilter for 64-bit Windows is missing. (This probably applies to 64-bit Vista and 64-bit XP too).

Here is how to tell if you have the problem:

  • Click on the Start Menu and choose Control Panel
  • Change View By to Small Icons and click on Indexing Options
  • Click on the Advanced button
  • Click on the File Types tab
  • Scroll way down to pdf and you will probably see Registered IFilter Is Not Found

Registered IFilter Is Not Found

If you see that message, you have the iFilter problem.

As an additional test, download or scan a searchable PDF. You can see here that I am searching for the word “Westminster” in Acrobat Reader and it is finding it. When I search using the search box under the Start menu, it doesn’t find it.

Westminster

Replace The Missing IFilter

To fix the problem, you need to download the missing iFilter.

Download Adobe PDF iFilter 9 for 64-bit platforms here

Once you download it, unzip it and run the installer.

When the installer completes, go back and look at the file types list from above. It should now say “PDF Filter” instead of the “Registered IFilter Is Not Found” message. Yeah!

Test The New iFilter

Download or scan a new searchable PDF and find a word that is in the text and search on it in Acrobat Reader. For example, here I searched for the word “idyll”.

Idyll

Now I will search for it in Windows Search, and it looks like it found it. Double Yeah!

Idyll

Now lets search for Westminster again:

Westminster

Looks like it still didn’t find it. No!

It turns out that fixing the iFilter will only fix new documents, not the one that Windows Search has already indexed.

Do A Re-Index

In order to fix this problem, we’ll need to tell Windows 7 or Windows 8 to do a re-index. If you have a large hard drive, this could take a long time, so do it before you are going to bed or something.

  • Click on the Start Menu and choose Control Panel
  • Change View By to Small Icons and click on Indexing Options
  • Click the Advanced button
  • On the Indexing Settings tab, hit Rebuild

Once this is done, let’s try searching for Westminster again. Hopefully third time’s the charm?

Westminster

It’s there!

I’m On Windows 8 And This Still Doesn’t Work

Believe it or not, in some cases there is a bug with Adobe Acrobat that breaks search in Windows 8. These guys.

The fix involves changing the Registry, so only do this if you know what you are doing. I don’t have Windows 8 so I have not tried this myself, but here are the Windows 8 Adobe Acrobat fix instructions.

This Should Get You Going

Thanks again to Matt for doing the detective work on this one. Hopefully it will help one of you if you find that your 64-bit Windows isn’t finding your documents.

This article was originally written in December 2010, but was updated in September 2014 for Windows 8.

About the Author

Brooks Duncan helps individuals and small businesses go paperless. He's been an accountant, a software developer, a manager in a very large corporation, and has run DocumentSnap since 2008. You can find Brooks on Twitter at @documentsnap or @brooksduncan. Thanks for stopping by.

Leave a Reply 123 comments

richard - August 7, 2015 Reply

Windows 10 – can’t find any pdf files when I search for them :-(

Anyone have a fix?

Anders - August 5, 2015 Reply

Fixed my problem – thank you very much for the help! :) (Windows 8, 64bit)

Seth - June 26, 2015 Reply

Still a problem on Windows 8.1. I have been frustrated for a long time, wondering why my searchable PDFs weren’t returning in Windows search. I finally checked the PDF file type in the advanced options of the indexing options window and found the error, which via Google led me here. Thanks for the information on fixing the error.

Joshua Rios - June 18, 2015 Reply

Thank you so much! This fix worked perfectly.

Tim Tafoya - April 16, 2015 Reply

AWESOME!!! Saved by this solution….Thanks!

Colin - April 8, 2015 Reply

And of course if the Acrobat Reader update doesn’t solve the indexing problem and the user is reluctant to edit the registry then simply:-
Empty your wast bin (trash can)
go to the top level user directory normally c:\User.
in the search box type *.pdf
give the system a few moments to find them all
select them all [ctrl + A]
delete them all [right click] and [delete] or pick them all up and bin them
Go to the waste bin
Select them all – that’s why you emptied it first :)
and [right click] RESTORE
Job done – the Windows search indexer will then just re-index the recoveries instead of the entire user partition.

Prashant Serai - March 30, 2015 Reply

Thanks..this works!

5T3F4N - March 15, 2015 Reply

Thanks . You did a great job, fix one worked almost instantly. Currently I can use the win search without third party software. A tool which is called lookeen has bridged the time between the start of the weak performance and your problem solving.

Bruce - March 11, 2015 Reply

Thank you for the solution and clear instructions.

Andrew - February 25, 2015 Reply

Brilliant – so useful. Many thanks for publishing this. Nearly five years on and users are still having to fix this!

Marcos - February 15, 2015 Reply

Thank you for the tip. It is really useful.
However, I would like to clarify that the PDF search issue in 64-bit Windows is not a problem in Windows due to some reason. Adobe clearly states in the iFilter download page that “Adobe currently bundles a 32-bit PDF iFilter with Adobe Acrobat® 11 as well as the free Adobe Reader® 11 software. It uses the Microsoft iFilter interface and allows third-party indexing tools to extract text from Adobe PDF files.”.
So, the problem is that Adobe does not bundle iFilter in 64-bit Adobe Reader, so it is required to download iFilter manually.

B - February 14, 2015 Reply

Thanks so much! Would never have found this otherwise.

Liz - February 11, 2015 Reply

Thank you! Simple and it worked :)

Jon - January 14, 2015 Reply

Thanks so much. Brilliantly clear solution.

Filip - January 3, 2015 Reply

Great! Thank you very much!
Excellent tutorial, too!

jcy - December 31, 2014 Reply

OMG THANK YOU.

Martyh - December 29, 2014 Reply

I followed your steps to the letter, including re-indexing (over 20K files!), but my problem persists. When I do a search, it pulls up the first instance immediately, and then after scanning the entire document, that very same instance is repeated, in this example, about 70 some times: it actually finds one instance for **every single character (including spaces!)** in the phrase I am searching for. I can run the exact same search on my Win7 32-bit laptop and the search function works perfectly. On my new Win7 64-bit desktop, it sucks big time. I use my desktop for all of my publishing work, and not having the ability to search properly in PDFs is a real hazard in my line of work.

Thanks for your detailed step-by-step fix, I just wish it had worked in my case.
Cheers.

    Martyh - December 31, 2014 Reply

    Follow-up comment: Your step-by-step, I believe, is for Adobe 9. We’re now up to version 11 — and I’m guessing somewhere between the 10 through 11 update something else changed such that your step-by-step doesn’t work for Win 7 64-bit machines. Ah, well…

    I have, however, found a free-use application: FoxIt Reader — which does exactly the type of search that I need (and that Adobe Reader use to do). So my problem is solved, so to speak. It would just be nice if the Adobe search functioned correctly.

      June L - January 2, 2015 Reply

      Foxit is no longer free for network users. They require an upgrade that costs around $800 to enable content search.

        Martyh - January 2, 2015 Reply

        I can’t speak to network users — but, I’m *not* using FoxIt Editor, just the Reader, which so far is free to install and there doesn’t even seem to be a trial period. Regardless, I desperately need a PDF search tool that works, and FoxIt does, so I guess I’ll see what happens going forward.

Name - November 28, 2014 Reply

Fantastic work. Three cheers to the Auther.

Chief Minnechuk - November 24, 2014 Reply

Excellent article. Solved my problem. Complete and comprehensive right down to the rebuild step. Good work sir.

erkme73 - November 17, 2014 Reply

None of these steps worked for me UNTIL I deleted the c:\index folder. Of course, you can’t do that unless you’re in safe mode.

Once it’s gone, and you reboot into normal mode, the “file types” menu is completely blank. It causes a bit of panic, but after it gets done rebuilding the index (over 600k items in my case), they all return. And, from then on every PDF is searchable.

StefanS - November 6, 2014 Reply

Sounds like a good solution but i use annother alternative which is called Lookeen. I use it daily and in my opinion the add-on is faster than the built-in version. U can try it on http://www.lookeen.com

best regards
Rear: I work for the company which developed Lookeen.

Sola - October 8, 2014 Reply

Thanks a lot. i wish i found this tutorial earlier. Good job!

Murali - September 10, 2014 Reply

Awesome. Thanks!

peter - September 6, 2014 Reply

Thanks. Great tip. This worked for me.

Jerry - August 28, 2014 Reply

The link for the iFilter download is broken. Even if go to Adobe’s website and use the search function, it lists it in the results but if you click on it the site returns http://www.adobe.com/downloads.html?notFoundID=null

Kurt - July 23, 2014 Reply

Thanks! Life saver….

James - July 18, 2014 Reply

Wow, this is magical!

I have to sort out couple hundred thousand PDFs based on content, was going to dig in writing a scraper.

Glad there is a MUCH easier way to do it!

Cheers!

François - June 8, 2014 Reply

Thank you very much ! Was seaching seaching for 3 days (on and off) the reason why was not able to find text in pdf created with Ocr an my new S1300i scanner… Finally it is working.

Harris - May 22, 2014 Reply

Wow, awesome – you solved my problem too, thanks a ton!

Peter Andersen - May 12, 2014 Reply

Super advice. I am disappointed that neither Microsoft nor Adobe could ease this trouble shooting. Thank you.

Donna - May 5, 2014 Reply

This worked great for solving the problem of searching my local drive for OCR based PDF files. I was having trouble with searching on a network drive and found the solution:
http://community.spiceworks.com/topic/405741-windows-7-having-trouble-with-search-feature-on-mapped-drive

To summarize: Go to my computer then go to organize on the top left and select folder and search options. The only option I needed to change was the top one “Always search file name and contents” and I could then searched network drives.

Eric Weimer - May 1, 2014 Reply

Just search adobe.com for IFilter

There is an version 11.0.01 ifilter for 64-bit windows at:

http://ardownload.adobe.com/pub/adobe/acrobat/win/11.x/PDFFilter64Setup.msi

Adam - March 27, 2014 Reply

Thanks a ton. This was one of the many annoyances switching to Win 7 from XP. Works like it should now!

shaggy7up - March 2, 2014 Reply

I found a solution to this problem, just install the iFilter from this link.

http://blogs.adobe.com/acrobat/adobe-pdf-ifilter-9-for-64-bit-platforms-now-available/

    Geno - March 2, 2014 Reply

    Thanks, but tried that previously and it did not solve my problem. :(

Debbie - February 24, 2014 Reply

Thank you so much–I never would have figured this out on my own and it worked perfectly!

David - February 8, 2014 Reply

Brooks – thanks!! This fixed it. Awesome!

AC - January 28, 2014 Reply

This worked perfectly, thanks so much!!!

Geno - January 22, 2014 Reply

Hi, hope someone has a solution for me.

iX500… got the windows search in organizer to finally work with Fujitsu tech. Windows 7, had to reindex etc etc.

What we could not get to work is if I pick Adobe instead of Windows Search in the organizer. When I use that option in the search, adobe acrobat/reader opens, then quickly closes and I get (0) search results.

Anyone know whats up? I do have the iFilter v9 installed. I also have Acrobat X Pro and Reader 11 installed.

Thanks.

    Brooks Duncan
    Brooks Duncan - January 24, 2014 Reply

    Interesting. Does search work from within Acrobat X?

      Geno - January 24, 2014 Reply

      YES

        Geno - January 24, 2014 Reply

        I reinstalled scansnap, I reinstalled acrobat X pro, no diff. Then uninstalled X and installed XI which came with the scanner. No dif. Fujitsu tech has no answer at this time.

        I figure, this must have happened to someone else…

saidijack - January 9, 2014 Reply

Your PDF Search fix for Windows 7 64-bit is great! However, I have another issue. I have PDF files that were created with keywords in file properties and I need to search for those keywords using Explorer. Open .pdf file and select File > Properties ‘Keywords’. Can you help?

Jeffry - December 29, 2013 Reply

I had the same problem on windows 8 – 64 bit. Spent a lot of frustrating time coming to the same conclusions as I see here – Went through all the normal troubleshooting attempts as well. I just installed version 11 of the ifilter, changed the patch statement and after a reboot and the reindex all my tests work!! Brooks had sent me the link to this post – it was right on the money! I wish that it was mentioned somewhere it the installation instructions for scansnap. Thanks again Brooks!

Jeffry

    Brooks Duncan
    Brooks Duncan - December 29, 2013 Reply

    Glad it helped Jeffry! Interesting that Windows 8 has it too.

VMD - December 22, 2013 Reply

You are great. Thank you much!

Heather - December 17, 2013 Reply

Worked like a charm. Thanks

    Brooks Duncan
    Brooks Duncan - December 17, 2013 Reply

    Great Heather, glad it helped!

Synthelectric - December 9, 2013 Reply

Just what I needed! Thank you!

Fine Scotch - December 2, 2013 Reply

You are a gentleman and a scholar!

Esteban - September 26, 2013 Reply

Thanks!! you saved my life

Jason - September 19, 2013 Reply

Thanks Very helpful with Windows 8

WinAP - August 28, 2013 Reply

thanks for the guidance- simple and accurate

@zarchasmpgmr - July 30, 2013 Reply

Thank you! And Adobe now marks the PDF iFilter as tested for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008.

Dave - July 24, 2013 Reply

Brilliant! Thank you for such a well explained direct solution. Worked perfectly.

andy - June 14, 2013 Reply

Worked great. Today, I put it on 2 macs in the Windows partition, and worked great. Thanks!

Gill - May 29, 2013 Reply

Finally a solution that works! It was driving me insane.
Thanks a million!!! :)

Gabriel Avăcăriţei - May 14, 2013 Reply

Many Thanks!

Charis - April 2, 2013 Reply

Thank you, that is a lifesaver. I'm currently working on my literature review for my dissertation proposal and have been going nuts trying to find PDF files using the search feature on my new computer, which is Windows 7. I could search and find them on the old computer using XP but it is slow and clunky and doesn't have all the resources.

By the way there is a iFilter for Acrobat Pro XI available. http://www.adobe.com/support/downloads/detail.jsp….

lost - March 27, 2013 Reply

didn't work for me – I DON'T have the message " registered ifilter is not found" under filter description. downloaded anyway. changed path in systems control panel.

Stuart - March 15, 2013 Reply

Thanks for helping me fix a problem I didn't know I had!

When I downloaded the Adobe file the operating environments listed now include:

"Windows Search on Microsoft Windows 7® x64"

Calvin - March 8, 2013 Reply

This worked, thanks!

Miz Lola - February 27, 2013 Reply

THANK YOU SO MUCH!

smith - February 11, 2013 Reply

i have the new ix500 which came with the adobe x to work with my windows 7 64 bit laptop. i do not have the iFilter yet.

do i download the one for adobe 9? will there be any issues? there is no update iFilter for adobe x that i could find.

thanks

    smith - February 11, 2013 Reply

    oh! i found Adobe PDF iFilter 11 for 64-bit platforms. it seems to be for the adobe 11 vs 10 ( i have the 10) which one is better for the adobe 10?

Mike - February 4, 2013 Reply

Thanks!

sophia - October 11, 2012 Reply

Many thanks for this extremely helpful and clear post. Have great days!

Kevin - October 4, 2012 Reply

Fantastic Guide! Thank you so much.

    Brooks Duncan
    Brooks Duncan - October 4, 2012 Reply

    Thanks Kevin! Glad it helped.

huz_akh - September 16, 2012 Reply

Worked Perfect, Thanks !

    Brooks Duncan
    Brooks Duncan - September 16, 2012 Reply

    Great! Glad it helped!

Jeff - August 10, 2012 Reply

Thanks a million!

Avinash Hirekerur - August 5, 2012 Reply

Thank you… perfect solution to the problem.

Supabitra - July 3, 2012 Reply

Great! the problem in my computer has been resolved. Thanks a lot.

Kazan interpreter - March 23, 2012 Reply

Awesomely explained! Thank you so much, I did in 10 minutes what I needed to do already three weeks!

Micah Jamison - March 20, 2012 Reply

Hey there, are you able to recommend any good free pdfhosting services? Best of luck

airportjohn - March 12, 2012 Reply

Wow. That indexing problem drove me crazy yesterday. Spent hours trying to fix it. Thanks to Brooks and Matt, it took 3 minutes to fix today. I'm sold. Thanks, guys. I thought it was a ScanSnap issue. Turned out to be a Windows 64 bit problem.

Bobbie - February 28, 2012 Reply

Thanks for the solution to searching pdf files. Works great now!

Now my problem is that I also can't search vsd files. These are my visio drawings and, since graphics is my main function, I need this desperately. Have you come across this problem before? Thanks for any help you can offer.

Joshua - February 8, 2012 Reply

Sounds like a great solution. Seems very simple. Problem now is that any and all links to the Adobe download all lead to the same URL (http://www.adobe.com/support/downloads/detail.jsp?ftpID=4025). However, that URL goes only to a blank page. Even navigating to it through the Adobe website leads to the same blank page. Any suggestions?

Kit - December 27, 2011 Reply

Thank you. I'd already found the 'Registered Ifilter not found' problem and was about to tear my hair out. I've just finished writing a PhD thesis. I have thousands of references and had been remiss in storing some (OK a lot) of them in EndNote. The thought of wading through each pdf file was enough to make me walk away from the whole thing. I couldn't believe it when I googled the problem and there you were with the solution. So thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    Brooks Duncan
    Brooks Duncan - December 27, 2011 Reply

    Thanks Kit, you made my day!

Chee - December 14, 2011 Reply

well done guys. Worked for me like a treat.

David - October 25, 2011 Reply

Another alternative I've been using for a year or two on my Win7 64 setup is Foxit iFilter. I was reluctant to go back to Acrobat for pdf (I use NitroPDF Reader) so was pleased when I found Foxit had an iFilter. The server version costs several hundred dollars but you can sign up for the Basic Desktop Version via the free trial page. Its more like free than free trial. http://www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/ifilter/register

    Brooks Duncan
    Brooks Duncan - October 25, 2011 Reply

    Thanks for the tip David.

Ronen - October 25, 2011 Reply

Works like a charm, thanks a lot, BrooksD!

    Brooks Duncan
    Brooks Duncan - October 25, 2011 Reply

    Great, thanks for letting me now Ronen!

Tony - July 7, 2011 Reply

Just great, ty.
There is, however, a problem I'm facing with it. When I search for a all (complete) word, windows search does find it inside the pdf file…but it misses it when a search for, lets say, just part of that same word…like the last 6 chars …or the first 5…or some 4 chars in the middle of the word.
And I'm sure that those same searchs did work fine in the past, before I got my W7 box.
Any tips about how to fix this?
Thank you in advance :)

    Brooks Duncan
    Brooks Duncan - July 7, 2011 Reply

    Hmm. What happens if you use wildcards? Like search for Mac* to find both Mac and MacBook. Does that work?

marc - April 1, 2011 Reply

and is there also a solution for 32-bit ?

    Brooks Duncan
    Brooks Duncan - April 1, 2011 Reply

    Hi Marc,

    I believe that the iFilter for 32 bit is supplied in the latest Adobe Reader. Do you have the same "Registered IFilter is not found" in the File Types tab?

Nate - March 27, 2011 Reply

Awesome job!!!

    Brooks Duncan
    Brooks Duncan - March 30, 2011 Reply

    No problem Name, glad it helped.

Brooks Duncan
Brooks Duncan - February 22, 2011 Reply

Glad it helped. Good tip about using Locate though if someone just can't get Windows Search working.

Aroaldo Veneu - January 29, 2011 Reply

This tip worked perfectly and got me out of serious search troubles! :))

Thanks a lot guys!

    Brooks Duncan
    Brooks Duncan - January 30, 2011 Reply

    Glad it helped Aroaldo. It's a pretty annoying and widespread problem.

Brooks Duncan
Brooks Duncan - December 7, 2010 Reply

@smallbizdoer @Tom Glad it helped and I'm glad Matt let me know about a problem I didn't even know I had yet. I have a feeling this is pretty widespread now that 64-bit Windows 7 is all over the place. Hope this post spreads far and wide to help people.

Tom Murin - December 7, 2010 Reply

I'm re-indexing as I type this…..I just started going paperless this week (with a scansnap S1300 I got on eBay for just over $200) and was puzzled by the inability of search to function the way I expected it to. Well, problem solved! I am glad I subscribed to the RSS feed.

smallbizdoer - December 7, 2010 Reply

Awesome! That was my problem. I was getting quite disappointed that it wouldn't work for me. Great find, worked like a charm!

    Colin - April 8, 2015 Reply

    Sorry for “hijacking” your post but I thought the following tip would be useful and doubt too many people will read all the way to the end to read my original. Hope you’re not offended.
    And of course if the Acrobat Reader update doesn’t solve the indexing problem and the user is reluctant to edit the registry then simply:-
    Empty your wast bin (trash can)
    go to the top level user directory normally c:\User.
    in the search box type *.pdf
    give the system a few moments to find them all
    select them all [ctrl + A]
    delete them all [right click] and [delete] or pick them all up and bin them
    Go to the waste bin
    Select them all – that’s why you emptied it first :)
    and [right click] RESTORE
    Job done – the Windows search indexer will then just re-index the recoveries instead of the entire user partition.

      Tracy - April 29, 2015 Reply

      One word of warning about this trick: Don’t do that if you are working off a company server. I just did, forgetting momentarily that items deleted off the server do not go into my recycle bin! Our IT techs are restoring it, but ouch. I have determined, however, that copying the files from the server to your local c drive will accomplish the same end. Thanks for the tip!

        Ebat - May 11, 2015 Reply

        No kidding! Doesn’t anyone else see a potential problem with DELETING hundreds of files, and then depending on a system’s stability to restore them from a trash bin successfully?
        I would expect perhaps MOVING all the file to another folder/flash drive/backup drive, then copying them back to the usual place, would effect the same result without this sort of risk, but hey, I’m just paranoid and distrustful of computers, which is why I’ve not lost important things for quite a few years. Re-indexing seems like a far safer concept, and likely exactly the same time involved either way for the system to re-scan. Don’t make things more risky or complicated than necessary, please.

          Colin - May 12, 2015 Reply

          Ebat, If a system can’t recover 100s of files from the waste bin ( probably at least half a million files on a modern computer) you have more than just an indexing problem. If you doubt the speed advantages of simply re-indexing the 100s of recovered or copied files you might want to try googling “my computer has spent 2 days rebuilding the search index” then you may realise why re-indexing everything is not such a good idea.
          I accept that moving the files to an alternate location is a feasible alternative but can anybody put their hand on their heart and say ” My CD,DVD,Memory Stick, Smart Card is more reliable than my computer’s hard disk”? If they can, then they probably have inferior hard disks in the first place. Simply check the manufacturers’ figures for MTBF (mean time between failures) for any storage device and compare the results.

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