How to Search for a Word in Google Docs

How to Search for a Word in Google Docs

Google Docs lets you do much more than search for a word. Whether you need to filter for variations of a word or bulk-correct its spelling, Google Docs has a tool for it. This guide shows how to find a word in Google Docs on the Web and in the mobile app.

How to Search in Google Docs on the Web

There are a couple of ways to open the Find tool in Google Docs. The one you use may depend on whether you want to perform a quick word search or filter the search results immediately.

Perform a Quick Search

To do a fast search, such as a basic word, where the letter case doesn’t matter, you can use a simple Google Docs keyboard shortcut to open the Find tool.

Use Ctrl + F on Windows or Command + F on Mac to bring up the search box in the top-right corner of your document.

Find tool in Google Docs on the web

Enter the word you want to locate in the “Find in document” field, and press Enter or Return. The number of instances of the word will be shown in the Find box.

Number of results in the Find tool in Google Docs on the web

Use the arrows in the tool to move up or down to highlight each occurrence of the word.

Arrows to view results in the Find tool in Google Docs on the web

If you want to use a filter after you see the results, do so by clicking the “More options” icon (three dots).

More Options icon in the Find tool

Filter the Search Results

If you have a lengthy document, want to find the word using a particular letter case, or check out additional filters, you can narrow the search results immediately.

Select “Edit -> Find and replace.”

Find and Replace in the Google Docs Edit menu

Enter the search term in the “Find” field. If you want to replace the found word with another, enter the replacement in the “Replace with” field.

Find and Replace box in Google Docs on the web

Check the boxes for the filters you want to use, as described below.

Match Case

Mark this option to find words using the same letter case. For example, you want to find all instances of “THE,” and not those written as “The,” “the,” or “tHe.”

Find and Replace Match Case filter

Use Regular Expressions

Mark this option to enter a regular expression in the “Find” field rather than a basic word. Google uses RE2 for regular expressions, which allows you to enter a particular syntax for what you want to find.

For instance, you can use a period as a wildcard. Enter “jo.n” to receive the results “john,” “johnson,” and “join.”

Find and Replace Regular Expression use a period

As another example, you can use “[a-z],” “[A-Z],” and “[0-9]” to represent a character or number set. You could enter “b[a-z]l” to receive the results “bill,” “below,” and “bellow.”

Find and Replace Regular Expression using a character set

Ignore Latin Diacritics

Mark this option to ignore diacritics, such as letters that contain an accent, acute, or grave symbol above the letter.

Find and Replace Ignore Diacritics option

Once you apply the filters, you’ll see the number of results in the “Find” field. Use the “Previous” and “Next” buttons to move to each result.

Find and Replace arrows and buttons

How to Search in the Google Docs Mobile App

If you’re using Google Docs on your mobile device, you can again use the Find tool to search for a word in your document. Although the options are more limited – for instance, you cannot filter your search results – you can still find a word quickly on Android and iPhone.

With your Google Doc open in the mobile app, tap the “More” icon (three dots) on the top right, and choose “Find and replace.”

Find and Replace in the More menu in Google Docs on mobile

Enter the word you want to locate in the “Find” field, and tap the “Search” icon on Android or Search key on iPhone. If you want to replace the found word, enter the replacement in the “Replace with” field near the bottom.

Find and Replace in the Google Docs mobile app
  • You’ll see a brief message letting you know how many matches were found. Use the arrows to the right of the search term to move to each instance of the found word.
Find results and arrows in the Google Docs mobile app
  • Use the checkmark on Android or “X” on iPhone to close the Find tool.
Close Find and Replace in the Google Docs mobile app

Find What You Need Fast

The Find tool in Google Docs is easy to access and simple to use, letting you search for a word quickly. Whether you opt to search in Google Docs on the Web with handy filters, or do a quick and simple search on your mobile device, you can find what you need fast.

Now that you know how to search for a word in Google Docs, take a look at how to use find and replace in Google Chrome and Firefox.

Image credit: Pixabay. All screenshots by Sandy Writtenhouse.

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