PDF Search (App)

I couldn’t find any mention of this app here in the forum, which is odd considering that it is part of the Setapp package. Has anyone tried it? If so, do you see any advantage in it versus spotlight or DEVONthink?

I have it but honestly haven’t put it to work. It’s likely redundant if you have DT

If you already have a Setapp subscription it might be helpful to download PDF Search and try it. DEVONthink would only be a replacement for PDF Search if the PDFs are stored or indexed in a DEVONthink database. But,

Me too. I already downloaded it but only used it once. Most of the time, I just use my qualitative data analysis software (also a paper management software) MAXQDA to search particular string in a mountain of papers.

As a matter of fact, I use DEVONthink a lot. But I was curious about this app. A couple of days ago I moved some 800 pdf files to an indexed folder which, in turn, I also indexed with PDF Search. I couldn’t see any obvious advantage in this, but I will keep giving it a try for a week or so.

MAXQDA is interesting, but the price is off-putting. I spent quite a bit of money to get a temporary license which doesn’t even allow me to use the latest version. So I still have an active license, but I seldom use it (as I probably won’t be renewing it).

Keep us updated on your experience of PDF Search.

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One obvious advantage of PDF Search is that it’s available on iOS while DTTG doesn’t do PDF indexing.

I am a little late to the game.

I was seeking a good way to search inside my iCloud folder on iOS. I, recently moved from Dropbox to iCloud (to save money as I was already paying for iCloud).

I found that searching through the files app on my iPad was terrible. Yes it picks up file names but not content inside PDFs etc.

This is when I found PDF Search. I have over 10,000 files indexed and downloaded (also a benefit because iCloud doesnt seem to download all files)

For iOS, this is the best I have found for this purpose. I am considering buying the lifetime version of the iOS app.

If anyone is using this app, please share your experience. Is there an alternative?

This is not true in my experience - I can search and find results in the content of PDFs in DTTG.

BTW I would never use MaxQDA for general PDF search - it doesn’t use Mac native PDF display and annotation tools, and it’s thus practically impossible to import and export annotations (not impossible - I actually wrote a MaxQDA->Skim exporter but it required reading MaxQDA’s SQLite database directly, not using built-in features).


DTTG definitely does PDF indexing, I use it every day.

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I’m not sure. In my experience, it only works seldomly and unreliably. I just tried a few searches it only worked once, definitely not on the same level as PDF Search.

Do you also use DEVONthink on Mac? It could be syncing index data from mac to DTTG. I use DTTG without Mac version though.

Edit: I found this paragraph in DTTG manual saying some documents can only be indexed by the Mac version. But I couldn’t find out exactly which documents.

reindex: Marks all items in all databases for full reindexing. Use this command, e.g., when searching does not find items by their content. Attention: Some documents that only DEVONthink for Mac can index might not be searchable after reindexing.


Yes, I use DT for Mac. I do a lot of professional research and use it a lot on my iPad and in years of use it has never failed to index a PDF. I have never used DTTG to import or index documents, only as a viewer and to search, so this must be why it works for me.