Full text search in PDFs



PDF search is one critical feature that prevents me from switching from Mendeley completely. I assume this is somewhere in the works, right? I thought I add this to the forum to get a feeling whether other users think it is a critical feature too.

Add keyword to PDF titles to allow filtering out of Google Drive Search
[TIP] Work around lack of offline support, limited capabilities of mobile app, lack of PDF search
Search annotations

Google Drive is usually pretty good indexing PDFs so you could use their drive app to search your PDFs. We have some ideas how to integrate that directly into Paperpile but no concrete plans yet.

We thought about it a lot initially because we assume that this is a core feature but suprisingly we only had a handful of users asking for.


Well, talking about workarounds, I can also “just” use Acrobat and search all the files in my local Paperpile folder. But this is not integrated/user-friendly approach to handle search.

Note that in Google Drive it does not seem to be possible to specify a folder to search. It would also be nice to have a context of the search result, which you do not get in google drive.

But I agree with you - if users don’t ask for it, why bother. Speaking for myself, I do think this is an important functionality.

You don’t happen to have a list of features under development that you do consider important, do you?


I also consider full-text pdf search an important feature and miss it somehow often. The fact that Paperpile fetches abstracts automatically very well helps a lot on searches, but having only the title to search is not enough, sometimes.


From what I’ve read in the forums, this feature seems to be on the to-do list already, but I wanted to also express my interest in it. This is a feature I use very often and integrating it into Paperpile search would be extremely helpful when searching for a specific paper read several weeks/months ago.


I just wanted to bump this feature request. I just realized how extremely helpful it would be.

Google drive does a good job indexing pdfs, and searching google drive for a paper as a substitute is ok but there is one key flaw - you can’t search within only one folder in Drive! I backup everything in Drive and use it for more than just science, so I end up with a lot of irrelevant results.

If you could just search within the paperpile folder then maybe having full text search in paperpile wouldn’t be necessary, but you can’t, so I think this should definitely stay on the developer’s to-do list


I am having this problem as well, and find it very cumbersome to search for text or phrases within my google drive with so many other unrelated documents/pdfs/note pages popping up in my searches.

The main complaints I’ve heard from those who I tried to convert to PaperPile are: (1) Word integration, and (2) Searchable text. Essentially, those are the two main features available on other ref managers that they really can’t go without.

I know that a plugin is in the works for MS Word integration, but a full text search integrated into paperpile would really go a long way to courting more users (at least in my experience).


We have implemented most of PDF full text search already. It’s in the release pipeline but it has to wait after the Word plugin and Mobile betas are released next month.

Interestingly, our user data is quite different from your experience. While the Word plugin is indeed a showstopper for many, PDF search hardly ever comes up as a requested feature or is cited as a showstopper.


Wow, that looks really great! Thanks for the preview, very exciting. I will admit, my pool of user feedback is most likely far smaller than yours hah. Nonetheless, thank you for including this. Can’t wait to see everything in the release next month.


Wahoo!! Word implementation AND searchable in pdfs…
oh hang on… next month… but my PhD will (please god) be done by then… :confounded:

bugger! oh well it’ll come in handy for the post doc.


Great - this should be super useful. On machines where I have my Google Drive sync’d I can of course use desktop full search, but for machines when I’m mainly working from a web browser full-text search from the app would be invaluable!


+1 for full text PDF search.


Any word on this, guys?


Not at this time. We will announce it once it’s available.


Just adding my 2 cents; the lack of PDF text search really is a showstopper for me. In particular, I would like to clarify that both the lack of full text search and having to switch to the “basic” PDF viewer every time I want to search through a document is irritating. I understand that this is not something the broader userbase is clamoring for, but I figured I should make my opinion known in that case! Excited to see that it might be coming soon, as this is the one thing that will make me hesitate in renewing my otherwise fantastic Paperpile subscription.


I completely agree with you on the importance of full text search, but for searching the content of the individual PDFs you should be able to use MetaPDF, not just the basic viewer. Does that not work for you?


I agree that full-text search would be useful, but I’d also add that it will be important to keep the option of not searching the full text sometimes. For example, I often open Paperpile and type an author’s name into the search box in order to get a list of that author’s papers. If the search automatically included the full text of PDFs, then the search results would include all papers that refer to that author - which would often be much less useful.


Yes, you are right, that’s one reason why we will keep the full-text search separate.


I guess this is redundant now, but +1 for (optional) full text search. This is currently one of the reasons I still switch back to Zotero - my library is too large, and my memory too poor, to always find results by title or author, and doing such searches globally is useful to ensure I’m not relying on my filing of papers! I’m looking forward to this feature, and being able to fully switch to Paperpile!


Same for me. Not being able to search PDFs and annotate/highlight them is a major problem. look forward to see a swift resolution