Unable to Fix Search Not Working in PDF [Top 5 Methods to Fix it]

A searchable PDF is ideal for business-related documents as it can store vast amounts of data, and you can search for anything without going through the whole file. However, there are various reports of the PDF search not working, which can be caused by multiple factors. It can be due to unrecognizable text font, layout issues, and others, which confuses the search algorithm.

Moreover, having a steady PDF searching feature for extensive data is a crucial step in companies. So, having these types of issues can disturb the company's ability to manage and navigate through non-searchable files. That is why this article will highlight the main reasons for search not working in PDF along with several methods on how to fix the issue.   

Part 1. 5 Reasons Why PDF Search May Not Be Working

Are you curious about the other factors or reasons that might explain why your PDF find not working? The following are some of the causes that stop you from having access to search for the required information on your PDFs:

  1. OCR Limitation: The first reason your PDF search is not working is the limitations of the OCR feature in your program. There are various factors, like poor scan quality, unclear text, etc., that can reduce the overall functionality of the OCR effectiveness.
  2. Formatting Problems: To ensure that your text search is viable, keep constant format settings on the PDF. Having varying formats can greatly impact the search for PDF text, and it is also a reason your PDF search is not working.
  3. Software Compatibility: Sometimes, there are compatibility issues in the software itself, which causes the Search feature not to work with your PDF version. Moreover, having difficulties with the PDF versions heavily reduces the functionality of the Search feature.
  4. Program Error: When you haven’t updated your software for long periods of time, it is bound to face glitches and file errors. The reason your Adobe Search is not workingis due to such glitches, lag, and program errors.
  5. Incorrect Search Terms: People tend to make human errors when adding a search item to a particular text. We know that the search function is case-sensitive and might show "search in PDF not working” if the item is typed incorrectly.

Part 2. How to Fix PDF Search Not Working

Now that we understand why the PDF search does not work let's look for ways to cure or fix it. The following 2 methods are centered around fixing the PDF search not working problem on the Adobe Acrobat software.

Method 1. Using Adobe Acrobat for PDF Search Issues

If you want to turn your scanned document into a searchable PDF, then the Adobe Acrobat OCR feature is for you. This feature expertly recognizes the text and its format, and you’ll get the original text in the editable and searchable form. You can also use this feature to make different file formats editable and searchable after converting them into PDF. Therefore, you can rest assured when we say that the following steps will fix the PDF search not working problem.

Step 1. Open Adobe Acrobat Pro on your computer, and on the main interface, go to the “Tools” bar at the top left-side. Under the “Create & Edit” section, select the “Scan & OCR” option and select the desired PDF file from File Explorer.


tap on scan and ocr feature

Step 2. When the PDF is added to the software, head to the top toolbar and hit the “Recognize Text” bar to open a drop-down menu. From the menu, select the “In This File” option to further extend its settings in the toolbar.


choose in this file option

Step 3. Now, you can change the number of pages and language of your PDF file or click the "Settings" option to open a small separate window. From this "Recognize Text" window, you can change more options like output, downsample, and more. After that, press the "OK" button, head to the top toolbar, and click the "Recognize Text" button to begin the process.


adjust the recognize text settings

Method 2. Converting PDF to Searchable Format

Another method you can try is converting the PDF into another searchable format, such as a Word File. The conversion keeps everything intact, like the format, layout, tables, images, and more, the same as in the PDF file. Read the following instructions to understand how to convert a PDF into Word via Adobe Acrobat:

Step 1. On the main interface window of Adobe Acrobat, under the "Recommended Tools for You" section, click on the "Open File" button. Now, add the desired PDF document you wish to convert into a Word document.


open your pdf document

Step 2. After that, on the top left-side toolbar, click the “File” option, and a drop-down menu will appear. Hover over the “Export To” option to extend its options, and click the “Microsoft Word” format to expand its options further. Afterward, proceed with the “Word Document” option to start the conversion process, and the Word file will automatically open on your screen.      


convert pdf into word document

Part 3. How to Fix Adobe Acrobat Search Not Working?

Sometimes, the Adobe Acrobat software can display the “Adobe PDF search not working” problem. In this case, we can try different approaches to fix the Adobe search problem. We have listened down the best 5 effective methods that you can try.

1. Alternative PDF Editor to Adobe Acrobat - Afirstsoft PDF

As far as we all love the advanced features of Adobe Acrobat, it is also not safe from various glitches and technical problems. Adobe can also face PDF search not working problems, and if you don’t want to spend hours fixing it, consider utilizing an alternative tool. Therefore, we introduce you to the Afirstsoft PDF software, which is equipped with next-level AI PDF editing features.

One of Afirstsoft's innovative features includes the AI OCR feature that turns PDF into a high-quality, editable, and searchable file. Moreover, it can turn any static image into an editable and customizable text to enhance the overall look of the PDF. You can choose to convert and detect your scanned PDF documents in 20+ languages to bring versatility to the file.

Step-by-Step Guide for Using the AI-Powered OCR Function of Afirstsoft PDF

We now have a good idea of the Afirstsoft PDF’s OCR feature and how powerful it is because of its integration with artificial intelligence. To learn how to use this AI tool, we will provide you with the comprehensive steps below to help you fix the problem of the Adobe Acrobat search not working.

Step 1. First, download and install the Afirstsoft PDF from its official website on your computer. Then, locate and click on the "Open" icon in the left-side panel of the main screen. This will lead you to a new window from which you have to search for the required PDF file to add to this tool.

Try It Free

* Moblie version is coming soon

Step 2. Once the PDF file opens on the main editing interface, access the “Home” tab from the top toolbar. From here, press the “OCR” option to get access to its different settings. Now, you can choose to set the number of pages, language, text recognition option, etc., and click “OK” to apply the OCR feature.

2. Update Acrobat

It is a known fact that when software has not been updated for a long time, it can glitch or display different technical difficulties. Similarly, Adobe Acrobat can also get corrupted or glitched out if you don't update it. Therefore, learn how to keep your Adobe updated with the following steps so that you won't face the problem of the search not working in PDF:

Step 1. Access the Adobe Acrobat Pro on your desktop and head over to the top toolbar options. Now, click on the “Help” tab to access its drop-down menu from where you need to select the “Check for Updates…” option.


choose check for updates option

Step 2. This will lead to a new “Adobe Acrobat Updater” window, which will scan for the latest updates. Now, you can choose the updates you want to make, and Adobe will automatically update its PDF application.


check for adobe acrobat updates

3. Repair Installation

Another method to repair the "Adobe search not working" problem is by using the Repair Installation feature. This basically means that your Adobe software will be reinstalled and will fix any corrupted or missing files as well. Fortunately, you can fix this problem with your Adobe Acrobat app by following the given instructions:

Step 1. Launch the Adobe Acrobat application on your desktop, and from the top toolbar option, click the "Help" tab. This will open a drop-down menu, and now, select the "Repair Installation" option.


tap on the repair installation option

Step 2. You’ll be presented with a small pop-up dialogue box that will ask you to confirm before reinstalling the software. Click the “Yes” button to begin the reinstallation process of Adobe Acrobat.


hit the ok button

4. Check and Configure Preferences

In any PDF editor, checking the preference can unlock various reviews, convert, search, and other options that enhance your PDF editing experience. Furthermore, these options let you create a steady workflow and customize multiple options according to your needs. So, go through the following step-by-step guide to learn how to check and configure the preferences options:

Step 1. Start by opening Adobe Acrobat on your device, and from the main screen, go to the top toolbar options. Here, click the “Edit” tab to open a drop-down menu and select the “Preferences” option or simply press the “Ctrl + K” buttons on your keyboard.


tap on the preferences option

Step 2. Click the "Search" option under the "Categories" section from the left-side panel on the new screen. In the "Search" section, tick the ones you deem necessary to enhance your search options. Also, under the "Fast Find" section, uncheck the "Enable Fast Find" button and hit the "Purge Cache Contents" button. Afterward, to confirm all the new Preferences settings, tap the "OK" button.


adjust the search settings

5. Using bFallbackOnix32 Registry Key

The registry key plays a crucial role in enabling text search functionality within your PDF files. Other than that, you can also fix the issue of the PDF search not working in Adobe with this registration key. Read the following step-by-step instructions to learn how to modify this registry key for enabling PDF indexing:

Step 1. Without opening Adobe, press the “Window + R” keys on your keyboard. A new dialog box will appear in your left-side corner. Now, enter “regedit.exe” in the “Open” text box and press the “OK” button to access the registry window.  

Step 2. When the “Registry Editor” window opens, carefully follow the given path to reach the “Feature State” directory.

“Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\WOW6432Node\Adobe\Adobe Acrobat\DC\FeatureState”

Step 3. Upon reaching a new dialogue box, write "bFallbackOnix32" in the key text box. Moreover, fill in the type space with "REG_DWORD" and set the value box to 1. Once you filled in these details, close the registry editor and try the search function.


This article has discussed how you can fix the PDF search not working problem with various effective methods and techniques. Moreover, we learned how Acrobat can fix this issue with its OCR feature or convert a broken PDF into another searchable format.

In case you face the Adobe Acrobat search not working problem, then we listed down 5 methods for you. Out of all the five methods, the most recommended technique is using the Afirstsoft PDF. It turns your scanned PDFs or images into editable and searchable files with its advanced OCR feature.

Emily Davis


Emily Davis is one of the staff editors of Afirstsoft PDF Editor team. She is a dedicated staff editor with a keen eye for detail and a passion for refining content.

View all Articles >