New in Acrobat X: Saved Search Results

One frequent request I’ve received over the six years I’ve had this blog is:

Can I save a report of Search Results with Acrobat?

In the past, I’ve always had to sheepishly say "no", but not any longer!

With Acrobat X, you can save search results to either an interactive PDF or to a spreadsheet file.

Creating a Search Report for a Single Document

  1. Open the document you wish to search
  2. Choose Edit—>Search

    —or type—

    Windows: Control-Shift-F
    Macintosh: Command-Shift-F

    Acrobat will split your screen between the Search window and the Document window.

  3. Type your search term in to the window. Here, I typed in "california"
  4. Click the Search button.
  5. The Search Results window will display.
    Click the disk icon to save your search as either a PDF or CSV file

Creating a Search Report for Multiple Documents

  1. Place the files you wish to search in a single directory.
  2. Choose Edit—>Search

    —or type—

    Windows: Control-Shift-F
    Macintosh: Command-Shift-F

    Acrobat will split your screen between the Search window and the Document window.

  3. In the Search window . . .
    A) Choose "All PDF Documents in"
    B) Choose the Browse for Location option and navigate to the folder you wish to search
    Setting up multi-document Search in Acrobat X
  4. Type in the word you wish to search for
  5. Click the Search button.
  6. The Search Results window will display.
    Click the disk icon to save your search as either a PDF or CSV file

Looking at the PDF Report

If you choose the PDF format to save the report, Acrobat will create a hyperlinked report document you can use to analyze the search results.

If you searched across multiple documents, Acrobat will provide a bookmark to each document report.

The Search Report document contains an extract for each instance found of your search term and a link to the source document.

Looking at the CSV File

CSV (Comma Separated Value) files may be opened in a spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Excel.

If you have installed Microsoft Office (Mac or Windows), you should be able to double-click on a CSV file to open it in Excel.

Once in Excel, you can manipulate the columns or cut and paste cells any way you want.

31 Responses to New in Acrobat X: Saved Search Results

  1. Jim Reed says:


    I searched high and low for an email address without success so I am resorting to a Comment to pose a question: I am loving Acrobat X but I was REALLY hoping it would have a way to print an Index of Bookmarks with the relevant page #’s for each bookmark. This function would be a boon but thus far I have not found a way to do this with X. Short of continuing to use IntelliPDF Print Bookmarks utility (which I am not even sure will work with X), is there a way to do this in X? Please say Yes!

    Thanks for any help you can provide,

    Jim Reed
    NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer

  2. Kim says:

    Is there a way to easily save my search report AND the hyperlinked documents to a portable device (such as a memory stick) or for emailing? Saving the search results is fine, but the hyperlinks only work on the computer on which the search is conducted. I could go through the hyperlinked document list and open/save each document individually, but some of my searches involve dozens (or hundreds) of documents, so that’s too labor intensive. Advice?
    — Rick’s Reply —
    We haven’t had this request before. I will look into it.

    • Penny Krawczyk says:

      I am very interested in performing the same procedure. I receive very large PDF documents that must be broken down into small groups and to now, we have printed and mailed paper to the recipients. I purchased this software as I was under the impression the search report feature would segregate the search results and allow me to save them to a new document. That way I could upload them to a secure portal for retrieval. It would be more secure than mail.

      Now I have realized all the search feature does is create a document identifying which pages contain my search results. I am still directed back to the main document and will have to go back to the methods in the last version.

      I’m very disappointed.

  3. Richard says:

    Which version… Standard or Pro… allows the saving of search results?
    —– Rick’s Reply —-
    Both Acrobat X Standard and Pro.

  4. Susan Terry says:

    I just finished combining several thousand produced documents into several packages in Acrobat 8.1 based on the request for production number. I embedded indexes to help w/ search speed. It was working fine for me, but my attorney tried to search yesterday to prepare for depositions and he has Reader 9. He doesn’t have the same nice Advanced Search screen with the option to “Match Any Word” as opposed to the horrible little search option that pops up. I’m not even sure it’s searching all the bookmarks I laboriously added to describe all the handwritten notes that of course couldn’t be ocr’d. Help!! I’m heading to work today, and my only option is to have him sit at my desk to do all these searches. He wants to do searches like “Susan Terry president” and find all instances where “ANY” of those terms exist. In Reader 9, it will return “O Hits” because there is no exact phrase “Susan Terry president” in his documents.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Acrobat doesn’t support that kind of search. Have your colleague use full text search (Shift-Ctrl-F, not just search.

  5. Susan Terry says:

    My other problem is that I have several thousand scanned and bates stamped pdfs produced which I can’t ocr in Acrobat 8.1 because it keeps telling me there is renderable text. I tried deleting all the bates numbers at the bottom, but it keeps telling me they weren’t added by Acrobat so it can’t delete them — I was going to “Remove” them, ocr the documents in batch, then just renumber them correctly. Is my only option to save each individual file as separate tif files, combine the tif files, then ocr the documents? If that’s my only option, can it be done in batch mode?

    I have several thousand handwritten notes. I’ve been using “Bookmarks” to list the people’s names mentioned in the notes. Is that the best option? I’m used to litigation support databases — so I’m not sure where to put my descriptions “2004-03-01 Handwritten meeting minutes by Susan Terry re: having to get another job if she can’t find a viable way to use Acrobat to search the 35,000 scanned documents she has packaged in Acrobat 8.1.”

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Make sure you update your Acrobat 8 to the latest version. Renderable text means that there is vector text beyond the page margins which is causing OCR to fail. An update to Acrobat 8 fixed that issue.

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  7. K Perez says:

    I saved a search and sent the report to my team and the links worked fine. I did another search, saved that one and now it seems they cannot use the links in the reports. Is this because the search was done on my computer? I created a catalog/index and that is on a shared drive that we all have access to and that is what the reports are from. Do you think there is a fix? Also, I am using X and the rest of the team has 9 Pro. Thanks.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Yes, the links are relative. If you want it to work, put all the files in a folder, complete your search, then send everything to your team members.

  8. Alain says:

    Interestig article, but the problem I have is that the Results box is way too small, can only see 3 to 4 results at a time. Maximising the search window helps show a few more, but I would like to see results in groups of about 10 or more to make searching easier. Is there any way this can be done?

  9. jURGE says:


  10. mary says:

    I’m new at Acrobat. What is the best article i can read to learn this?

  11. Jody says:

    How can I increase the length of text being returned when I’m using the advanced search?

  12. Nathan says:

    RE the above question on increasing the length of text returned in advanced search (and especially on saved search results), what would it take to reconfigure the software to return more text?

    • Nathan says:

      Also, when viewing the summary pdf of search results, is there a way to open right to the search term or phrase when you click on the hyperlink?

    • Rick Borstein says:

      That feature is not configurable. There may be other desktop search tools that support PDF that might work better for you like Copernicus, etc.

  13. JIP says:

    Does anyone know if this action wizard exists for Acrobat XI (Mac)? tx

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Actions created in AX aren’t editable in AXI, unfortunately. However, it is pretty easy to recreate anything using the standard steps. I hope to recreate my custom JS actions for AXI sometime.