How to Fix the Desktop Search PDF Problem

One of the tasks that should come easy in this modern age of technology is to be able to find exactly what you need on your computer—a desktop search should be simple. Yet there are a few programs that have been introduced over the years that make the default Windows search seem as if it is really lacking as a search tool. Especially when it comes to searching for PDF content. Although the native desktop search should bring up PDF content in Windows 7 and Windows 8, you are going to run into some problems if you are running Windows 64-bit.


Need a way to easily search through PDFs? See what your options are!

Desktop Search PDF Problems

Before facing the desktop search PDF problem head on, you should know what the 64-bit term actually refers to. Whether you are running a 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows, these terms just refer to the way your PC’s processor handles all of the information and data. In this case the 64-bit version of Windows will be able to handle larger amounts of RAM (Random Access Memory) way more effectively than the 32-bit version. It’s simple to check which version you are currently using.

For Windows 7 Users:

  • Click the Start Button
  • Now right click on Computer, select Properties.
  • Under the System heading, the System type will tell you if you’re running 32 or 64 bit.

For Windows 8 Users:

  • First open the Control Panel
  • Select System/Security
  • Select System
  • This is where you find what version of Windows you are running.

Now that you know which version of Windows you are running, we can tackle the desktop search PDF issue, but this article focuses on the known issues with the 64-bit versions so if you are running the 32-bit versions and are having some issues, it may be an indexing problem. This article won’t help you though. The reason for this is that in the 64-bit versions of Windows 7 and 8, desktop search seems to have a problem indexing PDFs. Search tools use what is called an iFilter to index files, and for some reason this filter is completely missing for PDFs in this version.

The solution is to download the missing iFilter. You can check if it is missing, and then later check if it has been installed by using the following steps. (Please Note: You need admin permissions to do this)

  • Go to the Start Menu and select Control Panel.
  • Change the View by option to ‘Small icons’ and select the Indexing Options
  • In the pop-up window, click Advanced
  • Next select the File Types tab
  • Scroll down to find “pdf”. If the iFilter isn’t installed it will say “Registered filter is not found”. Once you have the correct iFilter installed it should say “PDF Filter”.


Search PDF Content Windows 7

As stated above, you will need to have an iFilter installed if you want to have Windows 7 search pdf content. Once again, check if you have a 32-bit or 64-bit system. You should check if you have the PDF iFilter installed and to do so you need to go to Control Panel > Indexing Options > Advanced Options > File Types and then check what it says next to PDF extension, if you see that it says “PDF Filter” then it means you have the filter already installed. If not, then you need to install it to be able to have Windows 7 Search PDF content. This is where to find it:

  • 32-Bit Windows. The iFilter comes bundled with Adobe Acrobat Reader, and that is available as a free download.
  • 64-Bit Windows. You will have to download and install the 64-bit Version of the PDF Filter from Adobe.

Once you have it installed, you can enable PDF content indexing. To do so, go to Control Panel > Indexing Options > Advanced Options > File Types now the “PDF Filter” should show up next to the PDF extension. Select “Index Properties and Files Contents” under where it says, “How should this file be indexed?” and then click OK.

Now you will have Windows 7 search PDF content, which is an important feature to have set up as PDFs are one of the most common file types used today.

The desktop search PDF problem should no longer affect your searches and you will be able to find content within PDFs. If you find that you still need better search results, then you will need an alternative to Windows desktop search, but installing the filter for the 64-bit version of Windows is a great start.

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