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[5 Fixes] How to Fix PDF Search Not Working?

Almost all PDF tools offer the "PDF search feature" to help users easily search for specific text in the PDF document. However, many users have reported that their PDF search is not working properly. This issue can occasionally occur in any PDF tool, especially Adobe Acrobat Reader, due to issues in the PDF file or tool settings. But don't get frustrated. This guide covers all the fixes that you need to know to fix the PDF search not working issue effectively. So, let's jump right to it.

Part 1. Why is PDF Search Not Working?

There are different situations that can trigger the PDF search not working issue. The two possible situations are as follows:

1. PDFs Are Not Searchable

One of the main reasons why PDFs are not searchable is that they don't include any text. The PDF may be a scanned document or just an image-based document. If that's the case, then there is no searchable text. You can read the text within the image-based document, but the PDF tool cannot.

2. Highlights Different Words When Search Text in PDF with Adobe Acrobat

If the search text function in Adobe Acrobat is highlighting different words, then the possible issue is in the search settings of Adobe Reader. In this case, the PDF file is correct, but you have to fix the internal settings of Adobe Reader to fix the issue.

No matter what is the reason behind why the PDF search not working, it is a fixable issue. The next section details the best possible solutions for this problem. However, UPDF is an ideal solution regardless of the reasons. As a powerful PDF tool, it offers a bug-free search feature and can also convert image-based PDFs to editable PDFs. To learn more about it, read Part 3 or directly download UPDF to search in a PDF.

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Part 2. PDF Search Not Working: How to Fix When It Returns Incorrect Results

Unfortunately, there is not one standard fix to the Adobe Acrobat search not working issue. You have to try out different solutions until you find the one that works for you. So, we have shortlisted the five best fixes that you should follow one by one until you resolve the issue:

Fix 1. Update Adobe Acrobat Reader to the Latest Version

An outdated version of Adobe Acrobat Reader can start malfunctioning. So, the first thing you should do to address the Adobe Acrobat search not working issue is to update the tool as follows:

  1. Launch Adobe Acrobat.
  2. Go to the "Help" tab from the top and select "Check for Updates".
  3. Install the update.
pdf search not working check for updates

After updating Adobe Acrobat, open the PDF and try the search feature. If the issue is still there, proceed with the next fix.

Fix 2. Change the Search Settings of Adobe Acrobat

If Adobe Acrobat highlights different words, the issue is likely in the "Search" settings. So, follow the below steps to fix it:

  1. Launch Adobe Acrobat.
  2. Go to Edit > Preferences > Search or press Ctrl + K.
  3. Tap the "Purge Cache Contents" button. It will purge the cache and make the search functionality work seamlessly.
  4. Uncheck "Enable fast find" to disable caching and avoid the issue in the future.
pdf search not working change search settings

After completing the above steps, the search feature should work perfectly now.

Fix 3. Repair Installation

Maybe the installation process of Adobe Acrobat missed some files, or a few files got corrupted. An incomplete installation can cause the PDF search feature to malfunction. However, the good thing is that Adobe Acrobat provides a built-in feature to repair installation. So, follow the below steps to fix the PDF search not working issue with the repair installation feature:

  1. Launch Adobe Acrobat.
  2. Go to the "Help" tab from the top and select "Repair Installation".
  3. Click "Yes".
pdf search not working repair installation

After Adobe completes the repair process, use the search feature.

Fix 4. Enable the PDF Index via bFallbackOnix32 Registry Key

Another fix recommended by Adobe is to enable the PDF index via bFallbackOnix32 Registry Key. This approach is applicable to Windows, and the steps are as follows:

  1. Close the Adobe Acrobat app.
  2. Press the Windows icon key + R to launch Run.
  3. Type "regedit.exe" and click OK.
  4. Create the below key in the Registry Editor:

For Acrobat Reader:

Path: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\WOW6432Node\Adobe\Acrobat Reader\DC\FeatureState

Key: bFallbackOnix32


Value: 1

For Acrobat:

Path: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\WOW6432Node\Adobe\Adobe Acrobat\DC\FeatureState

Key: bFallbackOnix32


Value: 1

  • Close the Registry Editor.
  • Now launch Adobe Acrobat, open the PDF, and use the search feature.
pdf search not working enble the pdf index

Fix 5. Uninstall and Reinstall Adobe Acrobat

If none of the above four fixes resolve the PDF search not working issue, then you should uninstall and reinstall Adobe Acrobat. This will remove any bugs/glitches in the Adobe tool and possibly resolve the issue. Here are the steps to uninstall and reinstall Adobe Acrobat:

  1. Go to the "Settings" app from the Start menu.
  2. Click Apps > Installed apps.
  3. Search and select "Adobe Acrobat".
  4. Click "Uninstall".
pdf search not working install apps
  1. Go to the Adobe Acrobat official website and download the setup file.
  2. Run the Adobe.exe file and complete the installation.

After completing the installation process, open the PDF and test the search feature.

Part 3. PDF Search Not Working: What to Do When a PDF is Not Searchable

If the main issue behind the PDF search not working is that the PDF is not searchable, then you have to convert the scanned document into a searchable format. This is where UPDF comes into action.

UPDF is a powerful PDF editor tool that offers built-in and advanced OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology to make PDF searchable. Its OCR can intelligently scan through an image-based or scanned PDF and convert it into an editable PDF. Once done, you can easily search in PDF, even directly through UPDF.

pdf search not working updf

If your PDFs are already in a searchable format, then you can also use UPDF to search specific words, sentences, and paragraphs. It provides Case Sensitive and Whole Words Only filters for you to choose from. After entering the word and pressing the Enter button, all the results will be displayed on the interface with a highlighting color.

Search in PDF with UPDF

Follow the below steps to learn how to search in a scanned PDF with UPDF's OCR:

Step 1. Install UPDF on Windows or Mac and launch the tool. Click the "Open File" button to open the unsearchable PDF.

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pdf search not working open file

Step 2. Click the "Recognize Text Using OCR" button from the right sidebar.

Step 3. Select the "Searchable PDF" option and customize the other settings, such as layout, language, image resolution, page range, etc.

Step 4. Once the settings are customized, click "Perform OCR". Afterward, wait till the scan and conversion are completed.

pdf search not working ocr

That's it! This way, you can easily and quickly convert a PDF that is not searchable to a PDF that is searchable and editable. Now you can use the UPDF search feature and search for the specific text seamlessly.

pdf search not working search in scanned pdf

So, why struggle more? Download UPDF and quickly turn an image-based PDF into a searchable PDF.

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UPDF features are not limited to OCR. It is the ultimate PDF editor tool that offers the following additional features:

  • View/Read PDFs: It provides different page layouts, scrolling options, and light/dark modes for enhanced PDF viewing and reading.
  • Edit PDFs: It allows you to make edits to PDFs, such as add/edit text, links, images, backgrounds, etc.
  • Annotate PDFs: It can highlight, underline, draw, mark, add stickers/stamps, and insert other annotations.
  • Create PDFs: It can create PDFs from scratch or other document types, such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel, image, etc.
  • Compress PDFs: If the PDF size is large, it can shrink the size with one click.
  • Convert PDFs: It can convert PDFs to formats like Word, RTF, image, Excel, PowerPoint, text, etc.
  • AI Assistant: It provides UPDF AI, which is an AI chat box that allows you to interact with PDFs and ask about summarizations, explanations, translations, etc.
  • Organize PDFs: It can add, remove, replace, extract, split, rotate, crop, and rearrange PDF pages.
  • Batch PDFs: It can handle insertion, conversion, encryption, printing, and combining of multiple PDFs simultaneously.
  • Secure PDFs: It can password-protect PDFs and perform redaction for enhanced security.
  • Compatibility: It is compatible with Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android devices.
pdf search not working updf

In short, UPDF is an all-in-one PDF tool that you need to read, search, edit, annotate, and do other essential activities with PDFs. So, if you want to give UPDF a try, then this is the best time. UPDF is offering a massive discount, so download and purchase UPDF and start using a complete and feature-rich PDF tool.

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The PDF search not working issue can occur at any time. Therefore, you should look at what is causing the issue, whether it's an image-based PDF or some malfunctions in the tool. Afterward, pick the relevant fix from the above list and resolve the issue. However, if you want to experience a seamless way to search PDFs or do edits/annotations, then UPDF is the best tool for you. Its AI-driven powerful capabilities and intuitive interface promise an efficient PDF management experience. Therefore, download UPDF and have a full-fledged PDF tool at your disposal.

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