Copyable PDF Text that is Somehow not Searchable

Well, the title of this post says it all. I downloaded a PDF from somewhere and wanted to search the contents. I could highlight text within the document. I could copy the highlighted text and then successfully paste it into, say, Notepad++. However, when I tried to search within the PDF, Adobe Reader would just appear to search through the entire document and return no results for words that were clearly there.

I could think of no reason for this, of course, but didn’t really have any ideas about how to remedy the situation. So, I had the idea to try downloading a different PDF reader. The first I came across is a free reader called Sumatra. The download and install process was very easy. I opened the troublesome PDF in Sumatra and immediately was able to search the text.

Sumatra in Action

Update: September 17, 2014

Since writing the above, I have tried opening the same problem document on a Mac (running Mavericks). Because I have the latest version of Adobe Reader installed on this Mac, Adobe Reader was defaulted to open that PDF. Strangely enough, the document opened without incident and I was able to search text! However, when I tried to scroll to various pages, I was thwarted by error messages at many different turns. My first instinct again was to find an alternate PDF viewer. I found the open source PDFView, but it didn’t work either after a certain page number. Then, I recalled that Mac OS comes with a PDF reader, Preview. Preview reads the document just fine and searches text with no problem at all.

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