Making it Possible to Search for PDF Files in SharePoint using a PDF iFilter

August 21, 2009

1 minute read

There are 2 issues with the way SharePoint 2007 handles PDF files out of the box that significantly reduces the value and usability of PDF files which are stored there.  Fortunately, both of these problems are easily solved, and the solution is readily available and documented on the web.

Let’s say that you have finished setting up a document transformation process in SharePoint to automatically convert your Microsoft Word files to PDF for publishing on the web, or to create searchable PDF files from scanned images using OCR. At this point, you may have experienced some problems because of the way SharePoint treats PDF files.

Problem #1 – The icon for PDF files is a generic blank document instead of the usual icon for PDF, making it difficult to quickly scan document libraries and visually identified them. This problem is easily solved by getting a .GIF version of the PDF icon and registering it in SharePoint.

Problem #2 – PDF files are not showing up in search results. This is because by default, SharePoint 2007 search indexes only the document metadata, and not the contents. This negates the value of using OCR to convert scanned documents or image-only PDFs to searchable PDF and makes finding information in SharePoint much more difficult.

To enable full text searching of PDF documents, a PDF iFilter must be installed and configured. There are several options, including a free PDF iFilter from Adobe and the purchasable Foxit PDF iFilter.

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