Microsoft Word is the world’s most widely-used document creation and processing program, with a market share of 42%, followed by Google Docs and Microsoft PowerPoint. The main file formats of Word documents are docx and doc.
When you work with a large number of Word documents, finding specific text among them becomes quite difficult, unless you use special software. In Windows 10, you can use the capabilities of File Explorer, but searching with tool has a lot of inconveniences.
Let’s look at the top 5 options for searching text in multiple Word documents.
The easiest and most convenient tool for searching text in multiple Word files is SeekFast. With this tool, you can quickly and efficiently search for a combination of words or phrases in your documents, and the results are sorted by relevance, similar to search on Google, Bing, and other search engines.
SeekFast has a free and paid version. With the free version you can search in up to 50 files, and with the paid version up to 20,000 files at a time. The personal license for the paid version of SeekFast costs $47.
Downloading and installing SeekFast from the Download page takes only a few seconds.
You can see how to use SeekFast directly from File Explorer from the screenshot below.
The biggest advantages of the program are:
- You can search thousands of documents in just seconds.
- You can search for combinations of words that are not next to each other in the text, similar to search engines.
- The most relevant results are displayed first.
- You can see all documents and sentences that contain the searched words.
- You can view the text of the document without opening the file itself by clicking on the sentence in the results list.
- You can open the document with one click.
- You can start SeekFast directly from File Explorer
- It supports all widely used document types, including MS Word, Excel, PDF, OpenOffice, LibreOffice, LaTeX, RTF, and text files.
Disadvantages of SeekFast:
- In the free version you can search in up to 50 files at a time (up to 20,000 files in the paid version).
2. File Explorer
File Explorer is the built-in Windows program for working with files. The File Explorer search engine is primarily designed to search in file and folder names, and the search in texts of the documents is limited to certain file types and must be set up in the settings.
To make the necessary settings to search in the text of the files, follow these steps:
1. Open the folder you want to search in File Explorer, select the View menu and click the Options button
2. In the window that opens, click on the Search tab, select “Always search file names and contents” and click “OK”
After adjusting this setting, Windows will start indexing the texts of the documents in the folder you selected and its subfolders. When the indexing is complete, you will be able to search by typing the search words in the upper right corner of File Explorer.
Keep in mind that searching the contents of your Word documents with File Explorer is at a very basic level and has some drawbacks:
- You do not see the text found.
- You cannot search for combinations of words.
- You cannot sort the results by relevance.
- The search is very slow when you have a large number of files.
PowerGrep is a popular document search program developed by the Thai company Just Great Software. As the name of the program itself suggests, it has features similar to the grep command in Linux. This means that along with searching by words and phrases, you can also use regular expressions. PowerGrep supports various document types such as Word, Excel, PDF, OpenOffice, and more.
PowerGrep does not have a free version. A license to use the program costs about $170 (139 EUR).
The most significant advantages of the program are:
- You can use regular expressions.
- You see the sentences containing the searched words.
- Wide range of search options.
Disadvantages of the program include:
- No free version.
- You cannot search for combinations of words.
- Complex interface.
- Slow search in folders with large number of files.
- You cannot open the files directly from the results screen.
- You cannot see the context of the sentences found.
4. Agent Ransack
One of the oldest tools for searching text in documents is Agent Ransack, created in 2000 by the British company Mythicsoft. The program supports office documents such as Word, Excel, and OpenOffice. There is a free Lite version with limited functionality and a paid version. A standard license for the paid version costs $60.
Advantages of Agent Ransack:
- Simple and easy to use interface.
- There is a free version.
- Supports regular and Boolean expressions.
- Displays sentences containing the searched words.
The main disadvantages are:
- Does not support word combinations – you can only search for single words.
- Searching is slow and time consuming for folders with many files.
- You must click on each file in the result windows to see the sentences containing the searched words.
The last alternative we will introduce is DocFetcher – a free open source program that also has a paid version – DocFetcher Pro. This tool also has different filters – you can search by file format, maximum or minimum document size, and location.
Although it has a large set of customizations, DocFetcher is similar to File Explorer.
In this article, we presented the best software tools for searching Word files in Windows. Many of these tools are not available for Linux and Mac OS, so we have prepared a separate article for each of these operating systems.
Linux users can view our article describing how to search in files on Linux, where you can see the appropriate search tools, some of which can search in Word files.
If you’re a Mac user, you’ll find a practical guide to the best text search tools in your Word documents in the How to Search Text in Your Documents on Mac article.
I hope this article has been helpful to you. Which of these tools works best for you? Is there anything I forgot to mention?
Your opinion is very important to me, so I will be happy if you post even a quick comment in the section below.