How To Fix PDF Search In Windows 7 64-Bit

One of the best things about modern operating systems like Mac OSX and Windows 7 is that search is built right in, specifically PDF search. 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.

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 in the last year or two. This cheap Acer laptop I am writing this on is 64-bit, for example. How can you tell which kind of Windows you have?

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

windows 7 properties

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′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

Note: You may notice that it does not list Windows 7 in the list of supported Operating Systems. While it worked fine for Matt and I, you need to make your own decision if you want to risk installing it.

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 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!

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.

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73 Responses to “How To Fix PDF Search In Windows 7 64-Bit”

  1. smallbizdoer December 7, 2010 at 12:25 pm #

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

  2. Tom Murin December 7, 2010 at 6:53 pm #

    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.

  3. BrooksD December 7, 2010 at 7:05 pm #

    @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.

  4. Aroaldo Veneu January 29, 2011 at 9:27 pm #

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

    Thanks a lot guys!

    • BrooksD January 30, 2011 at 7:13 am #

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

  5. BrooksD February 22, 2011 at 2:43 pm #

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

  6. Nate March 27, 2011 at 8:36 am #

    Awesome job!!!

    • BrooksD March 30, 2011 at 9:08 am #

      No problem Name, glad it helped.

  7. marc April 1, 2011 at 7:05 am #

    and is there also a solution for 32-bit ?

    • BrooksD April 1, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

      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?

  8. Tony July 7, 2011 at 6:18 am #

    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 :)

    • BrooksD July 7, 2011 at 6:23 am #

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

  9. Ronen October 25, 2011 at 11:14 am #

    Works like a charm, thanks a lot, BrooksD!

    • BrooksD October 25, 2011 at 11:57 am #

      Great, thanks for letting me now Ronen!

  10. David October 25, 2011 at 2:21 pm #

    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

    • BrooksD October 25, 2011 at 2:52 pm #

      Thanks for the tip David.

  11. Chee December 14, 2011 at 5:08 am #

    well done guys. Worked for me like a treat.

  12. Kit December 27, 2011 at 6:28 pm #

    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.

    • BrooksD December 27, 2011 at 6:32 pm #

      Thanks Kit, you made my day!

  13. Joshua February 8, 2012 at 3:05 am #

    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?

  14. Bobbie February 28, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

    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.

  15. airportjohn March 12, 2012 at 6:25 am #

    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.

  16. Micah Jamison March 20, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

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

  17. Kazan interpreter March 23, 2012 at 3:53 am #

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

  18. Supabitra July 3, 2012 at 9:00 pm #

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

  19. Avinash Hirekerur August 5, 2012 at 12:52 am #

    Thank you… perfect solution to the problem.

  20. Jeff August 10, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    Thanks a million!

  21. huz_akh September 16, 2012 at 3:32 am #

    Worked Perfect, Thanks !

    • BrooksD September 16, 2012 at 11:46 am #

      Great! Glad it helped!

  22. Kevin October 4, 2012 at 10:28 am #

    Fantastic Guide! Thank you so much.

    • BrooksD October 4, 2012 at 10:33 am #

      Thanks Kevin! Glad it helped.

  23. sophia October 11, 2012 at 6:30 am #

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

  24. Mike February 4, 2013 at 7:15 am #

    Thanks!

  25. smith February 11, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

    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 at 4:08 pm #

      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?

  26. Miz Lola February 27, 2013 at 9:31 am #

    THANK YOU SO MUCH!

  27. Calvin March 8, 2013 at 11:08 am #

    This worked, thanks!

  28. Stuart March 15, 2013 at 10:38 am #

    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"

  29. lost March 27, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

    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.

  30. Charis April 2, 2013 at 9:48 pm #

    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….

  31. Gabriel Avăcăriţei May 14, 2013 at 11:32 am #

    Many Thanks!

  32. Gill May 29, 2013 at 2:43 am #

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

  33. andy June 14, 2013 at 1:45 pm #

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

  34. Dave July 24, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

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

  35. @zarchasmpgmr July 30, 2013 at 8:33 am #

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

  36. WinAP August 28, 2013 at 10:26 pm #

    thanks for the guidance- simple and accurate

  37. Jason September 19, 2013 at 10:51 am #

    Thanks Very helpful with Windows 8

  38. Esteban September 26, 2013 at 6:55 am #

    Thanks!! you saved my life

  39. Fine Scotch December 2, 2013 at 7:02 am #

    You are a gentleman and a scholar!

  40. Synthelectric December 9, 2013 at 6:12 am #

    Just what I needed! Thank you!

  41. Heather December 17, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

    Worked like a charm. Thanks

    • BrooksD December 17, 2013 at 1:40 pm #

      Great Heather, glad it helped!

  42. VMD December 22, 2013 at 8:06 am #

    You are great. Thank you much!

  43. Jeffry December 29, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

    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

    • BrooksD December 29, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

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

  44. saidijack January 9, 2014 at 9:24 am #

    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?

  45. Geno January 22, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

    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.

    • BrooksD January 24, 2014 at 11:01 am #

      Interesting. Does search work from within Acrobat X?

      • Geno January 24, 2014 at 12:23 pm #

        YES

        • Geno January 24, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

          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…

  46. AC January 28, 2014 at 9:50 am #

    This worked perfectly, thanks so much!!!

  47. David February 8, 2014 at 8:43 am #

    Brooks – thanks!! This fixed it. Awesome!

  48. Debbie February 24, 2014 at 1:21 pm #

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

  49. shaggy7up March 2, 2014 at 9:22 am #

    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 at 9:35 am #

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

  50. Adam March 27, 2014 at 12:01 pm #

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

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