Find text inside Microsoft Office, LibreOffice, RTF and plain-text files with Office Search

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 30, 2020
Microsoft Office, Software

Office Search is a specialized open source search tool for Microsoft Windows devices that is designed to find text that you specify in Office and text documents.

The program requires the Microsoft .NET Framework 4.7 and does not need to be installed. Just run it after you have downloaded and extracted the latest version to the local system.

The program interface displays just a few options at the top. You may run searches for individual words, phrases, and also separate words; use a semicolon to separate different search strings from one another.

Use the browse button to specify a root directory for the search, and select whether to include sub-folders in the search.

You may change the "all files" file patter to another, e.g. to only search .doc files or .css files.

Lastly, select whether you want the program to find all words that you selected, any word, and whether the case needs to match.

Hit the search button once you are done and wait for the program to run through the list of files in the selected root folder. The program comes with a set of known file types that it processes right away. These include all major Office formats from Microsoft Office and LibreOffice, as well as RTF, TXT, CSV, HTML, and others.

Known binary files such as exe or jpg are skipped automatically. All other file types are checked using fuzzy logic to determine whether they are binary or text.

Advanced users may edit the config file of the program to add file types to the list of text file types or binary file types. The latter is useful to speed up the skipping of files if lots of files of a specific type are stored in the selected folder.

Any text file is parsed to find the selected string or strings, and any match is returned in the results listing.

Previews are not provided and the only option that is available when it comes to search results is to double-click on a file to open it. It would be useful to get other options, e.g. to open the containing folder or getting an option to specify the program that the file should be opened in.

Comparison to Everything's file content search

You may wonder how well Office Search fares against search tools like Everything that also come with options to search inside files.

Office Search's main advantage is that it limits searches to specific text file types, and that speeds up the searching. Everything searches across all files, and while you can specify exclusions, it is not as straightforward as using Office Search for that.

Test searches were faster in Office Search but not by much. Another advantage of Office Search is that it may produce less hits because of its focus on text files.

When I ran a search across a PCs downloads folder, Everything Search returned more than 230 results whereas Office Search only one. Everything Search was more thorough however as it found the string in file types that were plain text; Office Search did not return these.

You may get a better result by adding these file types to the config of Office Search though.

If you do run Everything Search already, you may not need Office Search as it provides all the functionality for you to find text inside files. However, if you want a streamlined Office and text search experience, one that you may need to configure to include all file types that you need to search, then you could give Office Search a try to see if it speeds up these processes for you.

Closing Words

Office Search is a handy Office and text file finder that has a few usability issues. Apart from the lack of interaction options with results, searches do break if you run into folder or file access issues.

Now You: Which program do you use to find text inside files?

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  1. noel sebit said on December 1, 2020 at 9:47 am

    this is Microsoft office a best in the 2020

  2. Paul(us) said on November 30, 2020 at 10:10 pm

    PowerGREP is a powerful Windows grep tool. Quickly search through large numbers of files on your PC or network, including text and binary files, compressed archives, MS Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PDF files, OpenOffice files, etc.

    Find the information you want with powerful text patterns (regular expressions) specifying the form of what you want, instead of literal text. Search and replace with one or many regular expressions to comprehensively maintain web sites, source code, reports, etc.
    Extract statistics and knowledge from logs files and large data sets.

  3. webfork said on November 30, 2020 at 8:59 pm

    You mentioned the program Everything in the way of a fast file search without a function to search internally, but that’s just what UltraSearch has managed to combine: a detailed file search with an internal content scan that covers Office formats.

    More on UltraSearch:

    That might be the ideal alternative tool, though I do like Office Search’s simplicity.

  4. Maarten said on November 30, 2020 at 3:30 pm

    I like the straightforward simplicity of Office Search.

    After a quick scan, it looks like it has it’s own “engine” to scan file contents (instead of using Windows’ iFilter interface).
    That would be rather impressive for a program with a size of roughly half a megabyte!
    Pity that it doesn’t scan PDF files.

    Some alternatives: AstroGrep, dngrep, searchmyfiles

    You can improve the speed of Everything by telling it to serach only documents:
    Enable the documents filter (Menu: Search => Document or add doc: to your search query.
    To see or change what are considered documents: Menu: Search => Organize Filters and double-click Document.

  5. Zelanium said on November 30, 2020 at 7:36 am

    “Which program do you use to find text inside files?”

    %windir%\explorer.exe search-ms:

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