I was discussing with a colleague the option of using Google Docs as a wiki system. I quickly tested adding several docs with dummy text in it. However when I searched for that text in the overall Google Drive search bar. I got 0 results back. Is there a way to fix this?

I tried the quotes option and the advanced search option. Both fail. Here is the actual text I'm searching for

text being searched for shown in document

and here is the search:

search results

advanced search doesn't change much: advanced search results

  • 1
    I expect it takes a little time for the index to be populated with the text from the documents. I'd be very surprised if it was immediately available. How long did you wait between adding the document and searching for terms?
    – ale
    Aug 13, 2016 at 11:28
  • 1
    i thought of that as well.. but i also searched for text in docs we created months ago.. that don't show up either..
    – abbood
    Aug 13, 2016 at 11:52
  • Same here. It finds SOME stuff (old and new), but most stuff is not found, ever. Pretty terrible from a so-called search giant. Apr 21, 2018 at 19:46

4 Answers 4


While Google does index the contents of Google Docs to make them searchable, they do not index partial search terms. I suspect this would require a lot more resources on their part.

It looks like you searched for an incomplete term and expected a match with the complete term. Including "fail" as part of your search won't match when the term in your document is "failed".

I've run into this issue while searching in other Google Apps (Gmail, Sites, etc.) as well and gotten this answer from Google Apps Support.


By default, the search bar looks for filenames. There are two methods to search for specific text:

  1. Use quotes in the search bar. Example: "dummy text I'm searching for".
  2. Use the "Has the words" feature in advanced search. Click the arrow in the search bar, and then type in the phrase in the "has the words" input box. A picture is below. enter image description here

Source: Find Files in Google Drive

  • doesn't work.. see question update
    – abbood
    Aug 14, 2016 at 9:25

Another way to searching within Google Docs files

enter Google Docs folder

click down arrow by folder name

select "search within folder name"

Just searched within .TXT files stored on Google Docs and when opening the file, Google displays it with a text viewer.

In FF (and I assume other browsers) I could then search for strings using FF's find within page (Ctrl-F, Ctrl-G).


I'm working on transcriptions of baptisms and grouping by family. I need to search for names to see if I already have a family listed. I used to be able to do the regular "search" from Google Chrome and search the document for even one word. It stopped working in the last couple of weeks.

So just now I tried the search and replace - I put in Timothy. It found all instances of the name. I just never clicked the "replace" .. only used it for the search and it worked perfectly. Not as easy as when the Chrome search worked but better than nothing.

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