©2021 Donald R. Snow - Last updated 2021-02-06
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ABSTRACT: This class will discuss finding files on your computer that contain the text you specify.  This is Part 2 of a series about searching for files on your computer.  Tools to find the files will be discussed and illustrated.  Other classes will discuss finding duplicate files, including image and non-image files, to clean up your hard drives. 
The notes for this class and related articles, all with active internet links, are on Don's webpage .


  1. Instructor is Donald R. Snow ( ) of Provo and St. George, Utah.
  2. These notes, with active internet links and other related articles, are on Don's website .
  3. Tips:  (1)  Easy to put an icon on your desktop for these notes or any other webpage; just drag the icon from in front of the address in your browser to your desktop.  (2)  To open a link from here in another tab, but keep your place in these notes, hold down the Control key while clicking the link.
  4. The problem for today:  How to find files containing text that you specify.

  6. Part 1 of this class series discussed finding files with specified words in the file names That helps find "lost" files, if you remember anything in the title.
  7. This class will discuss finding files that contain the text you specify, since you may remember something in the text, but not the file name. 
  8. See the notes for Part 1 on how to have your computer show the file extensions, e.g. .odt, .doc, docx, .txt, .jpg, etc.

  10. Below are several programs that will search for files containing specified text.  The easiest for me is FILELOCATOR LITE, but you may find another one better for your use and computer; for Macs there must be something similar, but I don't use a Mac, so I don't know those programs.
  11. The program EVERYTHING that we discussed in Part 1 of this Search series does NOT search inside of files, only in file names.
  12. Searching inside of files takes much longer than searching for file names, since there is so much more to search through. 
  13. FILELOCATOR LITE -- -- the "lite" version, free for everyone, works well for what most of us need and is easy to use; you select the folder and type of files to search and the search terms; *.* searches all files there), *.odt | *.docx searches .odt and .docx files (The | character is the pipe and on my keyboard is on the backslash key); the htis are shown in left panel and lines with text highlighted in hits are shown in the right panel; the list of hits can be sorted by name, location, file type, date, etc.; allows Boolean searches (using AND, OR, NOT, etc); does search and replace, but most of us family historians just need the search feature; highlighting a hit in left panel shows the numbered lines containing the highlighted search term in the right pane; across the bottom is an information line showing the number of files it has searched and the time taken; this program is the easiest for me to use and doesn't require very much instruction; I've found that it will also search in genealogy databases such as PAF and Ancestral Quest files; the searches can be saved and results can be exported   
  14. INFORAPID SEARCH AND REPLACE --  with home page -- free for private use (old program, but seems to work OK); I have to run it as Administrator to get it to work correctly; includes find and replace across multiple files in many file formats, but you may need to download a "plug-in" for pdfs; select folders and type of files to search (*.* searches all files in that folder); search results show file names in blue with search terms highlighted in the line where they occur, allows Boolean searches with  AND, OR, NOT; clicking on the highlighted search term takes you to the document where you can edit it; right clicking takes you back to the results screen or to start another search; can also start a new search by clicking on the Show Search Dialog bar at bottom or clicking on File > New; past searches are saved and shown in tabs at top so you can go back to any one; includes a replace function, but works well just for finding; has keyboard shortcuts to go between resulting files 
  15. TEXT CRAWLER FREE 3.0 -- -- freeware, but with commercial versions; finds and replace across multiple files; you set the folder and/or subfolders and tell it what kind of files to examine, e.g. *.doc, or *.txt, or *.html, or *.* to search all files in that location; to find text, set it for Standard; Regular Expressions is computer jargon for things like line breaks, empty lines, etc.; enter the search terms and check if you want Case Sensitive, etc., and click Find; you see the progress bar going across and files begin to show in the panel; clicking on a file shows the lines in the panel below that contain the text, plus a few words around the search terms; it also shows the line number in the file; the program can also replace all occurrence of the search terms by entering the replacement terms and clicking Replace; most of us don't need the replace feature
  16. WINDOWS SEARCH -- this is built into Windows 10 and works, but is very slow to find files containing specified text and there is no way to have it search only certain drives or folders, but keep it in mind -- more details are in the notes for the Part 1 class  
  17. For pdf files most search programs need the text layer, in addition to the image layer, to make them searchable -- freeware program PDF-XCHANGE EDITOR has OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to generate the text layer on pdfs -- 

    2. Other classes discuss other types of file searches, for example, finding files by file name and finding duplicate files.
    3. More information on these topics is in other notes and articles on my webpage.

    Return to the  Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group Home Page  or  Don's Class Listings Page .