Tips & Tricks

Searching for PDFs on the web

June 19, 2011

Advertisement, a website offering resources for entrepreneurs and small business owners, has just launched a new feature: a PDF-specific search engine. The PDF Search Engine is essentially a meta-search engine that combines PDF results from a range of general search engines.

Given the sheer amount of content on the web these days, it can be useful to filter results based on, for example, file format. Now, I feel like I should point out that it is possible to apply this sort of filter using good ol' Google. All you need to do is include "filetype:pdf" in your search query if you only want to see PDF-based search results. For example, if you wanted to search for the PDF version of News Corp's annual report, you could go to Google and enter "News Corp annual report filetype:PDF". To search for other file formats, you just need to replace the "PDF" with the appropriate file extension (e.g., "filetype:doc" for Word documents).

You can also use this technique to exclude certain file types by adding a minus-sign before the "filetype:" (e.g., "-filetype:pdf"). Not that you'd ever want to exclude PDFs from your searches, of course!

Now, I should clarify, I think that tools like Noobpreneur's search engine are a great idea. There is certanily a place for tools that make tasks that are already possible simpler. After some quick testing with's PDF Search Engine, I have to say that I like it, but the results are slightly less impressive than Google's. When I searched for News Corp annual reports, the top few results from both search engines were News Corp annual reports, but only Google included the most recent report (2010).

Overall, I'd suggest that Noobpreneur's search engine is quick, convenient, and a good fit for people who, as the site's title suggests, are a tad less tech-savvy. For the most up-to-date results, however, it's hard to beat Google, which remains the 300-lb gorilla of search.

You can find the new PDF Search Engine on the Noobpreneur website.

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