Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Complex Searches for Documents.

Complex Searches for Documents

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 19, 2020)

Nick's legal department has lots of Word documents in specific subfolders of a directory and would like to search those subfolders for documents containing a name or phrase within the document itself. According to Nick, their options appear to be two-fold. First, they can use Windows Search, but that does not appear to allow the searcher to specify multiple subfolders to use in the search. Second, they can use the Search feature in the Open dialog box, but that doesn't seem to provide much power in searching at all. Nick wonders if there is an easy way to do the type of document searching they need to do.

Nick is right; the two apparent approaches are not the best for those trying to do complex searches. One option is to, within Word, develop your own search capability using VBA. This can be a difficult route to go, but it can provide specific, focused results. If you choose to go this route, then here is a good place to start:

http://gregmaxey.mvps.org/word_tip_pages/vba_find_and_replace.html

If you don't want to go the build-it-yourself route (and, honestly, I couldn't blame you in this circumstance), then there are any number of third-party Windows tools that you can use to do your searching. Here are just a few suggested by WordTips readers, in no particular order:

X1 Search – https://www.x1.com/products/x1-search/
Copernic - http://www.copernic.com/en/products/desktop-search/
FileSeek - http://www.fileseek.ca/
Total Commander - http://www.ghisler.com

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (7978) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Complex Searches for Documents.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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