How-To

How to Search in Google Docs

Google Docs document

Google Docs has a Power Search Tool including Find and Replace. Our guide explains how to use basic and advanced search features.

If you know how to use it, the search capabilities of Google Docs are much more powerful than the search and replace features of Microsoft Word. It’s quick but powerful, allowing you to use simple search phrases or complex search criteria to find the content you’re looking for.

In this article, I’m going to dig into the details and cover both the simple and advanced search features. Buckle up, and let’s dive in!

How to Search for Specific Words

If you want to find a specific word or phrase in your document, you can use the search tool to find every instance of that word or phrase within your document. The basic search isn’t case-sensitive, so it will find all instances of the word or phrase, regardless of the capitalization.

To find specific words in Google Docs:

  1. Open the document you want to search.
  2. Press Ctrl + F on Windows or Cmd + F on Mac to open the search box.
    google docs search bar
  3. Type the word or phrase that you want to search for.
    google docs search phrase
  4. The number of results will appear next to your search term.
    google docs search results
  5. Each instance of the word or phrase will be highlighted in your document.
    google docs highlighted text
  6. You can use the search arrows to move to the next or previous instance of the search term in your document.
    google docs search arrows

How to Find and Replace Text in Google Docs

Using the find and replace tool, you can change every instance of a specific word or phrase in your document to a different word or phrase. For example, if you’re writing a novel, you might want to change the name of one of the characters. Using Find and Replace can really make a long and tedious job simple.

  1. Open the document you want to edit.
  2. Press Cmd + F on Mac or Ctrl + F on Windows to open the search box.
    google docs search bar
  3. Enter the word or phrase you want to replace.
    google docs search phrase
  4. Click the More Options icon in the search tool.
    google docs more options
  5. Enter the text you want to replace your phrase within the Replace With field.
    google docs replace with
  6. To replace all instances in your document, click Replace All.
    google docs replace all
  7. If you only want to replace specific instances, use the Previous and Next buttons to navigate through all instances of the search term in your document.
  8. Click Replace for any instances you want to replace.
    google docs replace

How to Find Exact Case Matches in Google Docs

You may have noticed that the Find and Replace tool has some additional options. These options can help you narrow down your search to only those words or phrases that exactly match the capitalization of the search term that you enter.

  1. Open your document.
  2. Press Ctrl + F on Windows or Cmd + F on Mac to open the search tool.
    google docs search bar
  3. Enter the search term in the search bar, ensuring that you use the exact case that you want to search for.
    google docs case sensitive
  4. Click the More Options icon.
    google docs more options
  5. If you want to replace your search term, enter the replacement text. Otherwise, leave this field blank.
  6. Check the Match Case checkbox.
    google docs match case
  7. Using the Previous and Next buttons, you can find any instances that exactly match the case of the search term that you entered.

How to Use Regular Expressions in Google Docs Search

If you want to perform a more complex search, you can search for a match using regular expressions. These are a method of using a specific syntax to search for a wide range of different results, such as a range of characters, a specific number of the same character in a row, words that start with a lowercase letter, and more. You can use a reference of the regular expression syntax to create highly complex searches.

  1. Open your document.
  2. Press Ctrl + F on Windows or Cmd + F on Mac to launch the search tool.
    google docs search phrase
  3. Click the More Options icon.
    google docs more options
  4. Ensure that Match Using Regular Expressions is checked.
    google docs match using regex
  5. Enter your regular expression. In this example, the syntax is searching for any words that have the letter ‘e’ appearing exactly twice in succession.
    google docs regex
  6. Use the Previous and Next buttons to navigate through all of the results.

Examples of Useful Regular Expression Searches

Regular expressions can seem quite daunting, but once you get the hang of them, they’re often not as complex as they first seem. Here are some examples of useful searches that you can amend for your own needs:

  • (?i)(\W|^)(they|their|theirs|its|my)(\W|$): searches for any of the words in the list
  • (\W|^)[\w.\-]{0,25}@(hotmail|gmail|outlook)\.com(\W|$): searches for any email ending with hotmail.com, gmail.com or outlook.com
  • [0-9]%: any single-digit percentage
  • (wa|ha|i)s: searches for ‘was’ and ‘has’ and ‘is’
  • favou?r: searches for both favor and favour
  • \d{5}(-\d{4})?: contains any five- or nine-digit US zip code

Unleash the Power

Learning how to search allows you to quickly find or replace specific words or phrases within your document. Using regular expressions, you can search for almost anything imaginable within your text.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

To Top