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March 20, 2014 /How-To's /

How I learned to stop worrying & love Acrobat’s Advanced Search

I lose things all the time. My keys, my cell phone, every pair of sunglasses I’ve ever owned, and (this one happens to me all the time) important documents that I cleverly stash away somewhere, saying to myself “I’ll remember exactly where I put this, because it’s just so clever.” (Cue face-palm.)

Two weeks later, I’m scrambling around at my desk, shuffling “organized” stacks of other important documents, desperately trying to remember just how clever I am. There’s no denying that in the world of paper documents, I am an agent of chaos. Clever chaos, perhaps, but unmitigated, unforgiving, un-document-finding chaos.

This sad state of affairs does not apply to my digital documents, however, because (ta-da!) I’ve got Acrobat. When I need something that I’ve cleverly stashed on my computer somewhere (“I know, I’ll give document this it’s own folder! Tee hee!”), all I need to do is open up Advanced Search in Acrobat – you can find it in the “Edit” menu in Acrobat. I can enter a search term to apply not just to the PDF file I’ve got open, but to any PDF file I’ve got stored on my computer. I can even search through comments or other document attachments in those PDF files. For super big files (and I mean like 5,000-pages-big), there are also some cool tricks you can use to make the search go more quickly. (Since you’re all Acrobat aficionados, I’m sure you’re all already creating searchable PDF files, right? Right. Let’s move on.)

Even better than searching through my documents is the ability to save my search results to a new PDF or CSV file. Once I’ve run a search with the Advanced Search window, I can tell Acrobat to create a new file from those results that will be a hyper-functional summary of the search. Not only will there be automatically-created bookmarks to show me each instance of my search terms, but the results will link to the relevant files on my computer. As long as I’ve got Acrobat doing the searching for me, I’ll never misplace another document.

On a side note: I’ve asked some of the higher-ups on the Acrobat team to consider adding functionality to Acrobat that would find my sunglasses when I misplace those; I haven’t heard back yet, but I’ll post here with any updates.

Categories: How-To's