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macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 21, 2018
I could swear I did this before, but now it appears to not work. I have over 100 MS Word files, and I don't want to have to open each one individually to look for various phrases or words. Can't I just search at the folder level, and have it look inside each of those documents without having to open them? When I open a particular Word file, I can clearly see the word "automation" for example in it, used repeatedly. But, if I just go into the folder search or spotlight, and use that word, nothing comes up.

Please tell me how to search inside Word files without having to actually open them all up?


macrumors Penryn
Feb 20, 2009
Try DevonThink -- the small, "personal" edition.
It has a free "demo mode" that may do what you need.
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macrumors 68000
May 8, 2008
Ithaca, NY
HoudahSpot isn't free, but it works very well.

I use it regularly for exactly the kind of thing you're asking about.

I set my search word or phrase and then I choose (in the case of Word) "document" as "Content Kind," and off I go.

There may well be others as good (and free) but HoudahSpot has become one of my essential apps.
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macrumors Penryn
Feb 20, 2009
As a followup to my reply 2 above:
I created a small WP ("doc") file in MS Word and saved it.
Then I tried searching for some text "within" the Word file using DevonThink.
DevonThink -found- the text, and identified the file it was in.
So... it works.
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macrumors 6502a
Aug 8, 2016
Three free methods...

1. Use the built-in Terminal command find:
sudo find / -name "*.doc" -exec grep "SEARCHSTRING" '{}' \; -print

2. Use Devonthink's Freeware EasyFind.
Download from Developer:
Download from MAS:
In options, add to search for doc files and search for file contents.

3. Use the Open Source app DocFetcher (depends on Java)
After setting up correctly and indexing a file repository a content search will be quite fast.
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