• A directory with 1..n ZIP files of random names (all ending with .zip)
    • Each zip file contains 1..n PDF files of random names (all ending with .pdf)
    • All PDFs are from the same source and are to some extend comparable formatted.
    • The PDFs are no prosa text but rather invoices, inventory lists etc. (aka forms and tables; The PDFs are searchable when I open them in an PDF viewer.)
  • A search term i.e. a stock item number or a invoice number


  • A way to find/list all the PDFs that contain the given search term.
  • preferably with existing linux tools.
  • Do the PDFs have text or images of invoices?
    – muru
    Oct 11, 2017 at 5:39
  • They have text. (The PDFs are searchable when I open them in an PDF viewer) added this to the description.
    – KFleischer
    Oct 12, 2017 at 5:09

1 Answer 1


You can convert the PDF to text and then apply grep on that text:

for z in *.zip
  zipinfo -1 "$z" |  # Get the list of filenames in the zip file
    while IFS= read -r f
      unzip -p "$z" "$f" | # Extract each PDF to standard output instead of a file
        pdftotext - - | # Then convert it to text, reading from stdin, writing to stdout
        grep -q 1234 && echo "$z -> $f" # And finally grep the text

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