Search by patterns and masks

In addition to searching for one or more text strings, searching can be done using pre-defined patterns or custom patterns, also known as masks.

  • Search icon Click Search on the right of the Home ribbon, To search by pattern or mask, select Search Multiple in the drop-down list and select Looks Like Search (TM) Pattern for pre-defined patterns or Looks Like Search (TM) Custom Pattern for patterns you design yourself. See About Searching and Search in multiple documents.
  • Search and Markup icon Click Search and Markup at Comments > Markup for searching by custom patterns to be combined with mark-up so that found items are highlighted, crossed out or underlined – make this choice in the drop-down list. See Search and markup text for details.
  • From Scanner icon Click From Scanner at Home > Create and select Scan and Markup from its drop-down list to apply patterns when scanning. See Creating PDF Files from a Scanner.
  • Search and Redact icon Click Search and Redact in Power PDF Advanced, for searching by custom patterns to be combined with redacting so that found items are marked for redaction, as described in Searching and Redacting Text. Find this tool at Security > Redaction.

Search by custom pattern (mask)

Use a mask if the pre-defined patterns to not meet your needs, for instance if telephone numbers in your documents follow a different pattern, or you want to search items with a fixed structure not covered by a supplied pattern, for example car license plates, flight numbers or document identifiers in your own filing system.

  1. Select Looks Like Search™ Custom Pattern under Search for, in the relevant Search dialog box. See step 3 in Search in multiple documents for details.
  2. Under What would you like to search for, enter a mask.

    Your mask defines the number of searched characters and whether they will be numbers, letters, punctuation or a mixture. A static text lists the acceptable characters in greater detail than this summary:

    • A = English alphabet letter only, upper or lower case (A-Z, a-z)

    • 9 = Digit only (0-9)

    • O = Letter or digit

    • X = Letter, digit or punctuation (but not accented letters)

    Tip Be sure the mask is suitable, particularly if you are searching and redacting.
  3. Proceed with step 4 on in Search in multiple documents.