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How to search in Google Docs.

When you are searching for specific content within a document that contains a lot of text, it can be difficult to find what you are looking for. Fortunately, Google Docs provides a feature for faster text search on desktop and mobile.

Search for words in Google Docs on the desktop.

Text search, as the name implies, allows you to quickly find text within a document. Google Docs takes it one step further and even lets you change this text to another text using the find and change feature.

Related: How to find text in a word.

First, launch any browser on your desktop and then open the Google Docs document containing the text. Just search for text, press Ctrl + F (Command + F on Mac), and the search box will appear in the upper right corner of the window.

Type the word or phrase you want to search for in the search box. Note that search is not case sensitive. The number of times this word or phrase appears in the document appears on the right.

Find a word in the search box.

If the document contains more than one instance of the word, Google Docs will highlight which instance of the word you are in the order in which it appears in the document. The current example of the word you are on is highlighted in dark green, while other examples of the word are highlighted in light green.

Featured words in Google Docs.

You can click the up or down arrow to the right of the search box to navigate between events that appear in the word or phrase in the document.

Click the up and down arrows.

Now if you want to replace one word with another, you have to open the Find and Replace tool. You can do this by clicking on the three dots to the right of the search box, going to Edit> Search and Replace, or by pressing Ctrl + H (Command + H on Mac).

Search the menu and click Change.

In the Find and Replace window, type the word you want to find in the text box next to “Search” and then type the word you want to change in the “Change” text box. ۔

Type the word you want to find and change.

You can change each instance of this word in the document by clicking the “Change All” button at the bottom of the window. Or, you can change the currently selected word by clicking “Change”. You can navigate between each instance of the word in Google Docs by clicking the “Previous” or “Next” buttons.

Change and navigation buttons.

Find & Replace also has some options to further narrow your search:

  • Match case: This makes the word or phrase entered in the Findbox case sensitive. For example, if you type a bear, it will not find any examples of bears.
  • Match using regular expressions: This allows you to use RegEx in addition to common words or phrases in your search.
  • Ignore Latin dialectics: It ignores Latin diacritics in your search. For example, if you search for a resume, if this option is selected, it will still be resumé.

Click on the box next to each option to select them.

Select additional search options.

A note on regular expression (RegEx)

A regular expression, often called a RegEx, is a series of letters, numbers, and special characters that represent a specific search query. At first glance, using RegEx may seem overly complicated when you can just type the word, but RegEx opens up a whole new world of search capabilities.

Related: How do you actually use Regex?

For example, using RegEx you can not only search for specific words or phrases, but you can also search for grammar rules, such as passive sounds. So, for example, if you are a teacher and want students to use active sounds instead of passive sounds, you can use this RegEx pattern to find every instance of inactive sounds in a document:

b((be(en)?)|(w(as|ere))|(is)|(a(er|m)))(.+(en|ed))([s]|.)

In our document, we have three examples of inactive sound.

Find inactive voice in Google Docs.

Google will highlight every instance of inactive sound in the document.

Inactive voice highlighted in Google Docs.

Although this particular RegEx pattern is clearly complex, this example is only to highlight RegEx’s capabilities. If you want to know more about the different RegEx patterns, a simple Google search for “Regex cheat sheet” will yield valuable results.

Related: How to use regular expressions (regexes) on Linux.

Search text in Google Docs on mobile.

You can also search text in Google Docs using the mobile app on iOS or Android. The only downside is that some of the features you get on the desktop version are missing from the mobile, such as searching using the RegEx pattern.

To get started, launch the app and then tap the document in which you want to search the text.

Select the document in the app.

Next, tap the three dots in the upper right corner of the screen.

In the menu that appears on the right side of the screen, tap on the “Search and Modify” option.

Find and tap Change.

Use the on-screen keyboard to type the search term in the text box at the top of the next screen. You can use up or down arrows to navigate between each instance of this word in the document.

Find a term.

Just above the on-screen keyboard, you’ll find the Replace With box. Type the term you want to change the search term for, and then “change” to change the instance of the term you are on, or to change each instance of that word in the document. Tap all.

Change the term searched.

Note that, although the search case is not sensitive, replace it with the feature. So if you search for “bear” and replace it with “cat”, you will find something like “cat ate fish”. The results are not always what you expect, so be sure to double check everything.

Using the Text Search, or Search and Edit feature, is one of the basic features offered in Google Docs that you will need to know in order to run the application more fluently. Keep learning these basic functions and you will become a master in no time.

Related: An early guide to Google Docs