Add PDF files to Vista’s search index

Update: I should have mentioned that Adobe has some iFilters of its own. Reader 8 and Acrobat 8 both include their own iFilter that is supposed to index filenames and content. Reader 7 and Acrobat 7 have iFilters that index file names and properties only. I’m researching the effects of having two iFilters installed, but I can say on my working system, with Acrobat 8 installed, installing the Foxit iFilter seemed to improve search results and performance.

I mentioned the free Foxit Software PDF iFilter in the webinar this afternoon and promised to post the link. Here it is: 

Foxit PDF IFilter is designed to help users to index a large amount of PDF documents and then quickly find text within these documents. The PDF documents can be files, email attachments or database records.

This is a great addition to Windows Search. The 32-bit and 64-bit versions are free for use in desktop environments, and it’s nice to be able to do full-text searches of PDF files.

After installing this, you’ll need to go in and rebuild the Vista search index. To do that, open the Indexing Options dialog box from Control Panel (even easier, search for it from the Start menu). Click the Advanced button and then click Rebuild.

10 thoughts on “Add PDF files to Vista’s search index

  1. Additional suggestion: If you have more than one drive, you can use this as an opportunity to relocate the index to a drive that’s not your system drive. (Under Indexing Options | Advanced, click “Select New” under “Index location”, choose the new location, click OK, reboot. Indexing should begin to rebuild automatically.)

  2. Serdar, I tried that a while back on one system and had a lot of problems later when I restored a backup, because the index was missing. It was a mess to fix.

  3. That’s interesting — I would think the index wouldn’t have to be restored along with the rest of the system since it could be regenerated from scratch.

  4. Ed,

    I’m not sure I understand why I need to install this on Vista.
    Without doing anything special, my copy of Vista Home Premium seems
    to index the contents of PDF files just fine.

  5. Chris, I just checked a clean install of Vista, and PDF files are not in the index. Do you by any chance have Adobe Reader 8 installed? It appears to add an iFilter. (Version 7 of Reader or Standard adds support for indexing file names but not contents.) I know plenty of people who prefer earlier versions of Reader or who use third-party PDF solutions, and this is a good choice for them.

  6. Serdar, IIRC, the problem was that the system got confused because it couldn’t find the index, and I couldn’t regenerate it. It just threw up a nasty series of error messages. You might want to try that scenario sometime (but do it on a system you don’t care too much about… ;)).

  7. Ed, I will actually try it sometime — I’ve got a couple of guinea pig machines around that I could inflict such a mess on. 😀 But I’ll keep this in mind as reference to others who might try the same trick and get bollixed.

    BTW, I added the PDF filter – it works great.

  8. Now all you need to do is ditch Adobe’s Reader and install Foxit’s instead. It’s surprising just how bloated Adobe’s Reader is compared to Foxit’s which is doing exactly the same job.

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