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With ample hard disk capacities at disposal, its only natural if one gets complacent about deleting older documents. However, such a habit requires efficient management so that you can find the file you are looking for quickly and don’t have to go through pile of unneeded files to find out what you were looking for.

It is very common to forget the file name of the document you require but you almost always have a good idea about the contents.

Docfetcher is one such software that lets you peek and search documents for words to find exactly what you are looking for.

You can get DocFetcher here. It works with Windows and Linux. DEB packages are available for users on Debian or Debian-based distros. For Windows users, there is a choice between installer and portable versions of the software. Running DocFetcher the first time, you will be presented with a screen that looks like this:

search documents for words


First off, you need to create an Index of files that you want to be searchable. Click the file types that you want to be included in the index, then right-click inside the search scope and choose Create Index. Choose the folder you want to index and DocFetcher will create an index for all the documents inside that folder.

Keep in mind that index creation may take some time depending upon the number of files in the chosen folder and size of files. Index creation is a necessary step as it allows DocFetcher to know the contents of the files so that it can search documents for words and give you almost instant results.

search documents for words

With the index ready, you can now search for text inside your files. Just type the term in the search box and hit Enter; you will be presented with the results instantaneously. The results section display the relevance, file size and filename of each result returned. Clicking on any results opens up a preview of the file with the search terms highlighted. Double click on any result and the corresponding file is launched for you to work with.

searching in documents

DocFetcher automatically keeps track of additions and modifications to the folders you have configured it to watch. You don’t have to create/rebuild index again, it will automatically update the index if it is running or the next time it is run.

You can use operators in your search query to fine tune the results. An important point to note about DocFetcher queries is that by default, a search for “web development” will return documents that contain the word “web” or documents that contain the word “development”. This is in contrary to what you might expect (being used to Google search). So to search for documents that have both the words you need to search for “web AND development“. Frankly speaking, this requires a little getting used to and could have easily been fixed by the developer. Nevertheless, there are other operators that work as expected:

  • You can use “” to indicate a term that should not be present in the document
  • +” indicates a required word.
  • You can also search document metadata, eg “author:varun” will search in documents created by me (as mentioned in properties)
  • Last but not the least, you can also use the ubiquitous wildcards – the “?” and the “*” (with their obvious meanings)

DocFetcher also lets you specify file extensions that you want to be treated as plain text files. This can be especially useful if you do a bit of coding. As an example, you can tell DocFetcher to treat .php and .java files as text, this would make the source code inside these files searchable via DocFetcher as well. This can be specified via the preferences dialog, or while creating/rebuilding index.

DocFetcher is a great alternative to Google Desktop. Sure, it doesn’t index image files and may lack Google Desktop’s bells and whistles, but that is precisely what makes it worth trying. It’s lightweight, you can invoke it on individual folders, intricately specify what to index, share repositories and index, and has all the options you may need from such a software.

What is your preferred desktop search tool to search documents for words?

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