How to Search for a Word in Google Docs [Quick Guide]

When working with long and complex documents in Google Docs, it can be a challenge to locate specific words or phrases. However,  this program comes with a built-in search function that allows you to quickly find and replace words within your documents.

To search for a word in Google Docs, simply press “Ctrl + F” on your keyboard. Then, type in the word you want to search for and hit “Enter.” Google Docs will highlight all instances of the word within your document.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to search for a word in Google Docs. By the end of this post, you’ll have the knowledge you need to find the words you’re looking for in no time.

Why Do I Need to Search for a Word in Google Docs?

A key feature of any word processor is the ability to search for specific words or phrases within a document. Whether you’re working on a project, conducting research, or collaborating with a team, this feature saves time and effort during the editing process.

Rather than scrolling through a lengthy document, it’s particularly useful when you need to locate a specific text section. Moreover, a Google Docs word search is an excellent way to ensure accuracy (e.g., information, figures) while ensuring more consistent language throughout your document.

Note: We’ve also put together a guide to searching in Google Sheets.  

How to Look up Words on Google Docs (Desktop)

If you’re using your desktop, you can search for a specific word in Google Docs quickly:

  1. Open the Google Docs document you want to search.
  2. Press the Ctrl + F keys (Windows) or ⌘ Command + F (Mac) on your keyboard. This will open the “Find in document” search box on the top right corner of the screen.
Google Docs search for a word

 

  1. Type the word or phrase you want to search for in the “Find” search field. Google Docs will highlight all the instances of the word or phrase in your document.
typing text into Google Docs search bar

 

  1. Click on the arrows next to the search box to navigate through each instance, or press the “Enter” key.
close up view of Google Docs word search bar

 

  1. If you want to access the advanced find option, click the three-dot icon next to the up and down arrows.
Google Docs word search advanced options

 

6. After clicking it, the “Find and Replace” menu will appear.

Google Docs find and replace advanced options

7. Once you’re done with the search, click on the “X” button to close the search box.

How to Do a Word Search in Google Docs on Your Smartphone

If you’re on the go and need to search for a word in a GDoc, you can do so using your smartphone:

  1. Open the Google Docs app on your smartphone (be sure to sign in to your Google account).
  2. Open the document.
  3. Tap the three-dot menu icon in the top right corner of the screen.
where to find GDocs word search on mobile
  1. Select “Find and replace” from the drop-down menu.
find and replace option GDocs mobile
  1. In the “Find” field, type the word or phrase you want to search for.
how to search for words on GDocs mobile
  1. When search results appear, use the arrows to navigate through the results.
how to navigate GDocs word search on mobile

7. Once done, tap the check icon on the left of the search box.

clicking checkmark GDocs word finder on mobile

How to Find and Replace Words in Google Docs

To find and replace words in Google Docs, use the following steps:

  1. Open the document in Google Docs.
  2. Click on “Edit” from the top menu bar and select “Find and Replace.” Otherwise, press “Ctrl+H” (Windows) or “Command+Shift+H” (Mac). This will open the “Find and replace” dialog box.
Google Docs find and replace on mobile

 

  1. In the “Find” field, type the word or phrase you want to find in the document.
how to find and replace words in mobile GDocs

 

  1. In the “Replace with” field, type the word or phrase you want to replace the searched word or phrase with.
  2. Click on “Find” to locate the first occurrence of the word or phrase in the document. You can also use the Previous and Next button to navigate.
how to use find and replace GDocs
  1. Once you’ve located the word or phrase, you can choose to replace it by clicking on the “Replace” button. Otherwise, you can click on “Replace all” to replace all occurrences of the word or phrase in the document.
replace and replace all words Google Docs

 

7. If you want to find and replace words/phrases in specific areas of the document, you can use the “Match case” or “Match whole word” options to refine your search.

how to use match case in Google Docs

 

8. Once you’ve finished making your changes, click on the X icon in the top-right corner to close the dialog box. Your changes will be automatically saved in the document.

Looking for ways to find and replace text in Google Sheets? We’ve got you covered.

Using Advanced Search Options in Google Docs

While the basic search function in Google Docs helps find a specific word or phrase, there are more efficient ways to search through a large document.

Advanced search options allow you to search for words or phrases within specific document sections, such as headers or footers. You can also use advanced search options for words or phrases similar to your search term (using the “Match similar words” option) or for words or phrases in a specific font or color.

To access advanced search options, you can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+H (on Windows) or Command+Shift+H (on Mac).

Fill out the relevant fields in the search box and click “Find.” Google Docs will then display all instances of the word or phrase that match your search criteria.

Match Case

If a word or phrase needs to be case-sensitive, choosing the “Match case” option in the “Find and replace” dialog box lets you search for words that match the text case.

For example, if you’re searching for the word “Apple,” enabling “Match case” will only find instances of the word that start with a capital letter.

using match case for word search in GDocs

Match Using Regular Expression

Enabling the “Match using regular expression” option in the “Find and replace” dialog box can help you find specific or complex (such as a phone numbers or email addresses). In addition, this option enables you to search for text patterns that follow specific rules.

match using regular expression in Google Docs


Ignore Latin Diacritics

In the “Find and replace” dialog box, clicking the “Ignore Latin diacritics” option allows you to search for words without considering diacritical marks. This feature is handy when searching for words that contain multiple languages or accents. For example, if you’re searching for the word “resume,” enabling this option will also find instances of the word with accents, such as “résumé.

using latin diacritics in GDocs

Using Keyboard Shortcuts to Search for Words in Google Docs

If you’re a Google Docs power user, you’ll know that keyboard shortcuts can significantly speed up your search process. Here are some of the most helpful keyboard shortcuts for searching in Google Docs:

  • Ctrl+F (Windows) or Command+F (Mac): Opens the basic search bar
  • Ctrl+H (Windows) or Command+Shift+H (Mac): Opens advanced search options
  • Ctrl+G (Windows) or Command+G (Mac): Jumps to the next instance of the search term
  • Ctrl+Shift+G (Windows) or Command+Shift+G (Mac): Jumps to the previous instance of the search term

You can also customize your keyboard shortcuts to suit your specific needs. To do this:

  1. Click on the “Tools” menu.
  2. Scroll down and select “Preferences.”
  3. Click on the “Keyboard shortcuts” tab.

From there, you can customize existing keyboard shortcuts or create new ones.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Search for a Word in Google Docs If It Has a Specific Format?

Google Docs has a feature that allows you to search for words in a specific format. This is particularly useful when looking for a word in a specific font, size, or color:

  1. Open the Google Doc you want to search.
  2. Click on the “Edit” menu and select “Find and replace.”
  3. In the search box, type the word that you want to find.
  4. Click on the “More” button to expand the search options.
  5. Check the “Match using regular expressions” box.
  6. Select the formatting options you want to search for.
  7. Click on the “Find” button to start the search.

Once you click the “Find” button, Google Docs will highlight all the words in the document that match your search criteria. Then, you can use the arrows next to the search box to navigate through the results.

Is There a Word Search Shortcut for Google Docs?

For a quicker way to look for certain words in Google Docs, you can use the keyboard shortcut:

  1. Open the Google Doc you want to search.
  2. Press “Ctrl” + “F” (on a PC) or “Command” + “F” (on a Mac).
  3. In the search box, type the word that you want to find.
  4. Use the arrows next to the search box to navigate the results.

Wrapping Up

Learning how to search for a word in Google Docs is a simple, effective way to find specific information. These skills are invaluable for anyone working with long or complex documents — and they help ensure accuracy and efficiency.

Google Docs provides a robust and user-friendly platform, and the search features are just one example of the many tools available to help you work smarter (not harder).

To learn more about the various features and functions of Google Suite, check out some of Udemy’s GSuite courses today!

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