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Home / Blog / [Solved] PDF Search Not Working Properly in Windows 10/11

[Solved] PDF Search Not Working Properly in Windows 10/11

By Lena | Follow twitter | Updated on March 12, 2024
We can use the search function to find a specific text in a PDF file. However, you realize that the search function is not working properly. Why? Don't worry! This article will tell you why PDF search not working and how to fix it.

Why Is PDF Search Not Working?

Let's start by looking at what can cause the “PDF search not working properly” problem. Understanding why problems occur can help us solve them faster.

❌ Non-Searchable Text. Text search is unavailable when the PDF is a scanned text image. That is, the document does not contain the actual searchable text. In this case, you should convert it to a searchable document.

❌ Software Bugs. The PDF search not working issue might be due to a bug or glitch in the PDF reader. Your reader version may be low, or the installation file may be corrupted.

❌ Incorrect Search Terms. The search functions are usually case-sensitive. Perhaps your search terms were not spelled correctly and therefore did not match the content in the PDF.

Next, I’ll show you how to fix this PDF search not working problem. If you want to search words in PDF as soon as possible, click the download button below to get SwifDoo PDF. This PDF tool allows you to search words in standard and scanned PDF files.

How to Fix PDF Search Not Working

You can try these methods to troubleshoot the PDF search not working properly issue. If you don't want to spend time troubleshooting Adobe Acrobat, use another reader to do a quick search.

Fix 1. Try Another PDF Tool

When Adobe PDF search not working, you can use a different viewer. Adobe Acrobat is not the only tool that supports text search functions. Download and install a different reader like SwifDoo PDF to see if it resolves the issue.

SwifDoo PDF is a popular Adobe Acrobat alternative for Windows users. This tool allows you to search and replace text in a PDF file easily. With the Advanced Search, you can define the search range and enable case sensitive & search words in bookmarks and annotations.

You can follow the steps below to search words with SwifDoo PDF:

1. Launch SwifDoo PDF and open the PDF file.

2. Click View and go to Search. You can press Ctrl + F as a workaround.

SwifDoo Search

3. Enter the words and hit Enter. When SwifDoo finds the term, it will be highlighted!

Find Text in SwifDoo PDF

If you want to replace the text, please click Replace to make it.


Fix 2. Convert Scanned PDF

As mentioned earlier, the PDF search not working problem will occur when the PDF is not a searchable file. In this case, you can convert the scanned or image-based PDF to a searchable format. The OCR feature of SwifDoo PDF can do you a favor.

OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition. It converts images or scans to editable files. After the conversion, you can effortlessly search and replace text in the file. See how to use SwifDoo PDF to OCR a PDF and search text.

1. Run SwifDoo PDF and open the PDF you want to convert.

2. Click Edit and select OCR.


3. Adjust the language, output, and page range.

4. Finally, click OK.

OCR Settings

After the conversion, you will see the edit box. Now, you can press Ctrl + F to search text.

OCR Completed

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Extract Text from Scanned PDF Online & Offline | 4 Ways

Extract Text from Scanned PDF Online & Offline | 4 Ways

This guide will tell you how to extract text from scanned PDF. Whether you want to make it online or offline, you will find a way to do it here.


Fix 3. Update Adobe Acrobat

The bugs and glitches of Adobe Acrobat can lead to PDF search not working properly problem. You can update the reader to fix it.

1. Click Help from the menu bar.

2. Choose Check for Updates.

3. Follow the prompts to install the update.

Update Adobe Acrobat

Fix 4. Repair Adobe Acrobat

Another way to fix Adobe PDF search not working issue is to repair the installation. Adobe Acrobat may have missed some essential files during the installation, so it cannot work properly. Fortunately, there’s one option to repair the installation.

1. Click Help from the menu bar.

2. Choose Repair Installation.

3. Click Yes and wait for the process to complete.

Repair Adobe Acrobat

Fix 5. Use bFallbackOnix32 Registry Key

If updates and “repair installation” don't work, enable PDF index via bFallbackOnix32 registry key. The specific steps are as follows.

1. Close Adobe Acrobat Reader.

2. Press Windows + R to open Run box > Type regedit.exe and press Enter.

Registry Editor

3. Go to the path and create the key.

For Acrobat:

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

Key: bFallbackOnix32


Value: 1

For Acrobat Reader:

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

Key: bFallbackOnix32


Value: 1

4. Close the Registry Editor and try the search function.


That’s all about how to fix PDF search not working. Generally speaking, there are two main reasons for this problem: the error of the PDF reader or PDF is a scanned/image-based document. Therefore, you can fix the reader and convert the PDF to a standard searchable file. Hope this guide is helpful.

PDF Search Not Working FAQs

Q:Why is my PDF file not searchable?

The most common reason a PDF isn't searchable is that it's a scanned image. Scanned PDFs contain images of text, not selectable or searchable text layers.

Q:Why does my PDF search return no results, even though the text is there?

The text might be part of an image or using a non-standard font that the PDF reader cannot recognize. Converting the PDF through OCR or ensuring fonts are correctly embedded during PDF creation can help.

Lena has been in the editing industry for 8 years. She is familiar with a variety of products that can make things easier, such as PDF tools, video recording software, iOS location changer, etc. She enjoys sharing her knowledge with users to help them solve problems in their work and life. In her spare time, she likes to play with her cat.

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