Searching, Finding and Replacing Text

September 29, 2011, By Christian Cawley

You probably know how to use a search engine, but do you know how to really find things on web pages or within documents on your computer?

After all, using Google or Bing is just one side of searching. Once the web page has downloaded you might wish to look for a specific phrase. Thanks to your browser search function this is possible, but how do you activate it?

Similarly, searching for a document on your computer is one thing, but if you haven’t specified a phrase in your search then you will need to start looking very carefully. In the case of Microsoft Word or one of the many plain text editors that are available, you will be able to use the find tool to quickly jump to the word or phrase you’re looking for. If you wish to make changes, the find and replace tool can also be employed…

Searching, Finding and Replacing Text

Finding Text in a Web Page

Assume that you have just visited DeviceMAG and are looking for a particular word or phrase in an article. You might have used the devicemag.com: honeycomb search in Google to find all mentions of Honeycomb on this website.

Sadly, you won’t find any useful highlighting to accompany this once you have selected a page to check in the search engine results, so the only way to find the text is to use the browser text search facility.

This is activated by pressing CTRL+F, or is available via the browser’s main menu. When the search box is open, simply type the word you are looking for and the browser should jump down to where it appears, highlighting each instance.

Finding Text in Microsoft Word

Word documents can tend to be pretty long, so finding particular words and phrases often tends to be quite difficult. However you can easily find the text you’re looking for by using the built in Find tool.

Press CTRL+F to open the Microsoft Word Find tool. In Word 2010, this will display as a side panel on the left of the document, so simply type the word you are looking for and the results will appear below the text entry box. You can then select the instance that you wish to look at.

If your reasons for finding text is to make some changes, meanwhile, then this can be done by pressing CTRL+H to open the Replace menu. Using this tool you simply need to specify a word that you wish to replace, and the word you wish to switch to. It doesn’t have to be just a word, either. You may have typed “Edgar?” when the correct text should have been “Edgar!”

Finding and Replacing in Text Editors

Whether you use text editors for coding HTML or some other script, the find and replace tool is vital for making changes on a massive scale. For instance, you might have a particular statement that you decide is now extraneous. As a result, you might wish to remove or replace it. (A good developer won’t remove it of course; they will simply comment it out.)

Using the Find and Replace tool in this situation (again, typically CTRL+F) can save a lot of time and messing about with the scroll bar, and is a highly recommended approach.

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