Search does not work inside PDFs

Testing version: Version 2.0 (9652)

What were you doing: I searched through the notes to find a word that occurred inside a PDF stored in a anote

What feature did you use: Search all notes

What happened: It didn’t return the note with the PDF, when I changed the note’s tag so the tag only held that one note, it still reported no notes had the search term

What did you expect to happen: Returning the note with the PDF at the very least.

This one is not a bug but feature yet implemented.

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Will it ever be possible search inside a PDF or other attachment? If not, can you explain a little more about why it’s onerous to enable this? Apps like Keep It manage it extremely well and it’s extremely helpful. For a notes app, I would’ve thought that this is an essential feature?

Thank you

Unless the devs say otherwise and I’m wrong, I’d say it’s already available in the Mac version of Bear 2. I tried it out only recently and it worked. You search your notes, when a note has a PDF that includes the search term, the PDF “image” will pulse…

Hello Justin,

search inside PDF and images is already in the current beta, you can try it by using the global search of the in-note search :slight_smile:


Thanks, Matteo! I just tried this and couldn’t get it to work. I uploaded a 153 page pdf. The global search shows that the search term is in the pdf (which is great) but not where in the pdf. Is that right? So I can’t see my search term highlighted throughout the document, just that it’s in there somewhere

That’s the current behavior, Bear is not a PDF reader (and doesn’t aim to be one) so it’ll show you which notes and PDFs contain what you have searched for.

As you’ve found the PDF you were looking for, you can double-click the PDF to open it with your favorite reader to continue.

We’re always looking to improve the app, if you have a specific use case in mind feel free to suggest it to us :slight_smile:

Am curious as to why have OCR search functionality at all. I don’t want Bear to be a pdf reader but as a note taking app handling a variety of formats - pdfs, images and so on, it’d make sense that those supported file formats can be used effectively (even in the most basic ways). What’s the point in being able to upload a pdf if you can’t search what’s in the pdf. D’you see what I mean? If you can help me understand why you support pdfs at all if, as you say, you don’t want to be a pdf reader then that’d be really helpful.

What use case do you see where a user would want to attach a pdf but not be able to search it? Why would a user attach it in Bear at all?

With all due respect for your view of the matter, but I think you’re confusing a note taking app with a full-blown knowledge manager like DEVONthink Pro.

I don’t think so. I"m just asking why be able to upload a file if I can’t search the file. I don’t want a PKM system! Am genuinely curious as to what use case there’d be to upload a pdf to Bear if I can’t actually search that file in a meaningful way

OK, if you are clear on not wanting a PKM app, what is wrong then with right-clicking and selecting “Open With…” from the ensuing pop-up? I mean, you can even leave Preview running in the background on my skinny mid-2017 iMac without performance penalty, so opening that PDF in a dedicated PDF reader is instantaneous on any machine.

Also keep in mind that Bear is a note taking app, not a PDF reader. I don’t think adding in-PDF search capabilities is as simple as you might think. For example, some PDFs are password-protected; others have DRM locks in place, etc.

The ability to upload PDFs has been added because users want to store them in notes they have about that specific topic.

I think you’re misunderstanding me - you can read a pdf in Bear but just not search it very well. Am curious as to the choice behind this. Why add one and not the other. I’m jut wondering how these decisions are made and the rationale behind them that’s all. Understanding these rationales and so on help to understand the vision behind the product. This vision then informs the future development and so on - this, in turn, helps to manage expectations.

I ask because if the app isn’t about PKM (which I genuinely don’t mind) then why does it have backlinks? Backlinks are there precisely for PKM.

So, there are some tensions between some features existing and some not. Hopefully I’m making sense!

I think you’ll find that development decisions are driven very often, if not always, by what customers ask. Backlinks is an excellent example.

I am a journalist and I’ve been doing software reviews (full-scale analyses when I still wrote about enterprise-scale systems) for the past 28 years. Practically always I see an app developer starting out with a vision – which, in the case of Bear, I think was to deliver a better and more beautifully designed note taking experience than what was available – then, when that vision catches on, there’s an ambition to improve and as desktop software is a customer-driven market, they end up asking what the customers think they should add or improve.

After a while, you can’t recognize the original app in the evolved product anymore. Take iA Writer. They started out offering a puristic writing experience. The latest version adds… guess what? Wikilinks !!! They’ve announced plans to incorporate backlinks in a soon to be released update/upgrade.

The sad truth is that to survive, most smaller dev teams need to incorporate whatever the customer demands. They are constantly swinging between their own vision, what most customers demand and what a smaller group asks for in addition. When products that could be seen as competing with theirs offers what the smaller group demands, they will try to accommodate these wishes because they can’t afford to lose too many customers.

From what I see from the Bear team, they are more inclined to stick with their original vision and not to draw away of the notes idea too much. They read everything here, so they can correct me if they feel the need.

As for your question about allowing you to read PDFs from within Bear and not offer in-PDF search as well, it’s perhaps because search is harder to implement when a PDF is embedded? What I know is that DEVONthink does offer search, but it has a fully featured reader built-in and the PDF lives in the database, which is actually nothing else than a package (right-click and you can locate all the files) and the PDFs are stored inside folders inside that package. Bear’s notes are structured differently; maybe that’s the reason…

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That is your wrong assumption: the one doesn’t make the other necessary. The search helps to find those pdfs that hold the search terms. But for further reading you would have to take another app. It is OK if that is limited for you so that you don’t have a real usage for that feature. Many others on the other side may appreciate not to open a dozen of pdfs just to find the right one

May I hijack this thread to ask if it will be possible to use Spotlight to find Bear notes that have PDF attachments containing a search term typed into Spotlight?

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