Searching with Operators


I’ve read previous threads from several years ago about search operators not really working and I seem to have the same problem.

I’m running DEVONthink Pro Office 2.8.8 with ABBYY FineReader installed.

My 200+ PDFs are indexed, not imported, and they are PDF+Text.

No matter what operators I use (e.g., boolean AND, BUT, OR, and other operators OPT, NEAR, BEFORE, AFTER) the search results consistently come back as though the search was: term1, term2. I end up with a lot of noise in the results.

So, I have two questions, and one suggestion:

  1. How can I get the search operators to work correctly?

  2. If not, is there another software tool that uses operators for searching PDFs?

  3. Please offer search results like Apple’s Preview application. This would make it so much easier to scan results. Right now, the only option seems to be scrolling through the document.

Thank you!


Searching supports indeed operators but highlighting of occurrences in a document doesn’t yet.


does it mean, that, if search f. e. “y AFTER x”, searching only highlights every “x” and every “y” in a text and it doesn’t only highlight “xy”?

Thank you

Yes. But if you use proximity operators in the query, you can be assured that they were met in the displayed results.

I’ve played with other search apps (usually Windows apps) that attempt to highlight only the terms that meet the proximity operator. But there can be some tricky logical issues. I’ve always been able to confuse such apps with some of my documents, so it can be difficult to make highlighting work properly. I’m not sure that it can be made to always work properly.


Thank you very much