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How To Search Multiple PDF Files at the Same Time (better than Adobe)

This guide shows you how to search multiple PDF files at the same time (better than Adobe) with PDF X-change (an advanced and free PDF reader and editor).

How many times did you want to search for a specific keyword or phrase in multiple PDF files? You probably had to open the files one by one, and had to manually search by using the Ctrl+F function on each file.

This guide shows you how to search on multiple PDF files without having to open them one by one. This solution will make your search fast and easy, and you will likely save several hours of work.

In a previous guide, we explained how to search multiple PDF files at the same time with Adobe. You can refer to such guide if you have Adobe and do not want to install additional software.

Instead, this guide uses the PDF-XChange Editor software, which has many more advanced features and is a free software.

PDF-XChange Editor is a free software which allows reading, creating, editing (and more) PDF files.

First, you need to install PDF-XChange Editor. Let’s see how to do so.

  • Go to this web-link and directly download the file, click here
  • Once downloaded, extract the content of the “.zip” file in a folder, and open the file “PDFXEdit.exe”. The home page will open and you will see a window like the below

Now that you have installed the software, let’s see the next steps for searching in multiple PDF files at once.

  • Drag all the PDF files you want to search in into the main window you just opened. Each file will be opened in a separate Tab inside PDF-Xchange (basically similar to Chrome). The number of files you can drag at the same time depends on your computer features (RAM, CPU etc) but you can generally drag more than hundreds of files at once
  • Open the search panel, by clicking on the top left on the dropdown button “Find”, then click on “Search…”. An easier way to open the search panel is by pressing Ctrl+Shift+F
  • Now you will see the Search panel opening on the right, like the below
  • Type your keyword or phrase in the box “What would you like to search?”. We typed “Revenue” for our search
  • Now click on “Where would you like to search?” dropdown menu, and select “In All Open Documents”. This option will search for you keyword in all the PDF files you have dragged into the main window (in this instance in the 11 PDF files, as shown in parenthesis)
  • Alternatively, if you want to search in a specific folder instead, you can click the “Browse for folder…” option and select your desired folder
  • We are now ready to start our search, click on “Search…” and your results will appear on the panel below. You can see that the software shows you also the sentence in which the keyword was found, so that you can quickly understand the context
  • Click on the search results and the PDF page will open automatically. You can use arrow keys (up / down on the keyboard) to move through the results quickly
  • If you want to make your search more advanced, you can do so by clicking on the “Advanced Criteria” box. Here you can see different criteria:
    • Search for “all of these words” will search for all of your keywords in a PDF
    • Search for “any of these words” will search for any of the keywords in a PDF
    • Search for “none of these words”
  • Additionally, you can select additional searching filters by clicking on the “Options…” button. Here you can select different search options (Whole words, Case sensitive and other)
  • Another useful feature is the Proximity one. Here you can search for a set of keywords which are Adjacent, from the Same paragraph, or the Same page. These search options need to be combined with the “all of these words” advanced search feature previously mentioned above

Now you know how to search multiple PDF files at the same time, and a new way to perform your research in a quick and more efficient way, and hopefully this will save you hours and optimise your work!


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