Is this possible in principle?

It seems to me that search tools like gnome-search-tool, Catfish and Searchmonkey can search within text files, but not within other more complex documents like pdf or with extensions handled by LibreOffice. Am I missing something here?

Are there programs that could achieve that?

  • 1
    This answer may help, askubuntu.com/questions/31869/…
    – Sabacon
    Aug 2, 2012 at 4:11
  • Thnx - recoll is very complex. Could you create a simple answer on how to search with recoll for a pdf or odf file based on a word within it, including how to set the directory of the search (if there's such an option) and so on. I mean a description of this kind of limited search, given the fact that the program can do a lot more
    – user47206
    Aug 3, 2012 at 11:25
  • I'd say it is definitely possible in principle, because Google's search results frequently bring up PDF files amongst the traditional HTML pages. They are clearly searching & indexing PDFs. Would uploading your PDFs (and other file type documents) to Google Docs for searching be an option? It's not elegant but you could do this and start using it right now. Aug 25, 2012 at 21:33
  • what i meant was searching in tens and hundreds of documents for a certain title, while creating a bibliography.
    – user47206
    Aug 25, 2012 at 21:39

3 Answers 3


recoll is the answer - suggestion from comment: here


Sorry for the late reply!

From Searchmonkey 0.8.3 onwards, we now support complex text files such as PDF, DOCX, and DOC.

The latest code can be found on Sourceforge:-


Kind regards, Adam - Searchmonkey founder

  • I cannot install 0.8.3 in a 16.04-based system: Dependency not satisfiable: libzip2 (>=0.10), while I have libzip4 installed on my system. What should I do?
    – user47206
    Feb 19, 2018 at 10:46
  • There are three versions of Searchmonkey. The JAVA version does not have a dependency on LibZip2 and runs easily on Linux. I will look into the libzip4 issue, and get back to you. You can also contact me on Twitter @JSearchmonkey to discuss further.
    – Adam
    Mar 22, 2018 at 9:30

I don't have a GUI app suggestion, but yes it is possible. A command line tool for this is pdfgrep.

  • could you add details?
    – user47206
    Aug 3, 2012 at 10:24

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