Searching for text in Research PDF


Relative newbie to Scrivener iOS here. It’s working very nicely but I have a number of pdf’s in my Research folder and I’m wanting to search them (either the open one in my editor or all of them) for a text string. When I use the search box I just get results from my own Scrivener text files.

Is there any way I can do a search in associated Research files in scrivener for iOS, or do I need to do my searching outside Scrivener?


The simple PDF facilities on iOS do not provide a basic way to index text from PDF files, so their contents will be invisible to the search engine if the PDF is imported on iOS. Here are the conditions where it would be indexed:

  • If imported on the Mac, then its contents will be indexed and will be found in searches while using the iOS version.
  • When opening a project with pending iOS modifications in the Mac version, part of that process is to rebuild the search indexes—and in doing so, scouring any text from PDF files you imported on iOS that were not yet indexed. So they should work going forward once you do that.

Thank you AmberV. I only have my iPad with me at present and have a workaround (searching in Dropbox where the pdfs also exist) but I will bear this in mind in the future to import as much as possible using the Mac itself in the first place.


If you’re on the go and can’t use a Mac, I had an idea for how you could add your own “index”:

  1. Find a PDF tool that will let you copy or somehow export all of the text out of it (you should be able to do this right from Scrivener, with “Select All” and then “Copy” when tapping on text in the viewer).
  2. In Scrivener, load the PDF and click the “i” button to open the Inspector.
  3. Tap the button to add notes, and paste.

It’s not an ideal solution since you end up with the text duplicate into a field you might find useful otherwise—but in my testing it looks like a way to make PDFs searchable, while on the road.