Searching in PDFs with It used to be that i could search for a phrase in a PDF file by enclosing the phrase in quotes in Preview’s “Find” search box. That functionality does not seem to work anymore. I thought it might only fail in some PDFs, but now I think it fails in all PDFs.

Is there a way to search for a phrase in a PDF using Preview?

I just checked on my M2 MBA running Sonoma 14.1. I can still search for words in PDF files in Preview.

Thanks Doug. I don’t have trouble searching for individual words either, just phrases.

If i use quotes i won’t find a phrase that i know is in the PDF. if i search two words without putting them in quotes, i find all the instances of each word including the ones where they are adjacent, but if the words are common and the document long that is no way to find the phrase i’m looking for.

i’m running MacOS 13.5.2 on a macbook pro.

Ok, I see. On Sonoma in the search box - if you click the magnifying glass, you can change the search to “exact phrase”. Unfortunately that doesn’t help if there are mixed-case instances, but, if that’s not an issue, that seems to work for me.

I just checked on a Ventura machine - that “exact phrase” seems to be available there, too.


The current version of Take Control of Preview (1.3) says that should work:

To search for a phrase, surround the words with double quotation marks, as in “siri remote”. Preview then looks for all instances of those words together.

Perhaps the authors, @ace and @jcenters, have some suggestions.

For example, the example uses curly quotes; perhaps straight quotes don’t work?

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ieee! of course! i missed that and it is precisely what i needed! thanks so much and pardon my asking a question with an obvious answer!!!

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No need to apologize; I’m a veteran user of Preview, and I learned something new from this discussion.


Thanks Alan. the thing that confused me is that using quotes to search a phrase in Preview used to work. then it stopped. didn’t think to look for a different UI. :frowning:

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