Use Ctrl+F to Search Data with Ease

If you’re confused about what CTRL+F is, you are not alone – according to Dan Russell, a search anthropologist at Google, 90% of people do not know how to properly use CTRL+F to locate a word in a document or on a webpage. This tool will save you time and the embarrassment of missing a keyword or phrase that should’ve been replaced. Whether you are using your browser or your word processor, CTRL+F will speed your work up immensely.

Ctrl+ F works wherever you are: web browsers (Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.) word processing programs (Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, etc.), or  PDFs viewers like Acrobat Reader. Pressing the keyboard keys “CTRL” (“Command” on a Mac) and “F” at the same time will help you find any specific phrase, clause, or word you are looking for by typing them into a box that appears on your screen. The “find” box may appear in different locations on the screen depending on which program you are using – but it will always appear.

In A Web Browser

When searching through an online document or a webpage for specific mention of a word, phrase, or number, CTRL+F can save a lot of time. Simply press the keys CTRL and F and enter the desired term, phrase, number, word, or clause into the Find box that appears. In Internet Explorer your search term will be highlighted and each time you select “Find Next” the search will move through the document highlighting the usage of the designated word, number, or phrase.


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For instance, say you need to find the contact information for a specific judge in the Criminal Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County, but you only know that his first name is John. Go to the court’s website listing of judges in this division, and then you can use CTRL+F to accelerate your search. Enter “John” in the search bar and press <Enter>. The search will bring you directly to any mention of “John” on the page. Pressing <Enter> again will bring you to the next entry of “John” on the page if there is one.

In Microsoft Word

When working in Microsoft Word, CTRL+F opens the Navigation pane and you can search for a word, phrase or number. You will see all of the instances of your search term appear in the Navigation pane with the word in bold and can quickly jump to that portion of the document. Take it one step further and use the Navigation pane to find a word or phrase – and then replace it! From the Navigation pane click on the “carat” (arrow) to open a toolbar with more options, including Replace.


For example, the client’s total damages have increased and a complaint must be updated before filing suit. Rather than locating each time the initial damages are mentioned within the complaint by scrolling through the document, you can quickly make the corrections by using CTRL+F. Just key CTRL+F,  type in the original dollar amount, click on the carat to show Options and click on Replace. The original amount will appear in “Find What”. You can then add the updated amount in the “Replace With” field. If you want to replace any incident of the number, phrase, or word in the “Find What” field, select “Replace All.”


There may be cases where you do not want to “Replace All” but only “Replace” some. For example, a brief cites Wickard v. Filburn in several locations, however sometimes the citation is not as appropriate as that of say, Horne v. Dept. of Agriculture.

“Replace All” would not work in this example because the initial phrase of “Wickard v. Filburn” would still apply in many of its uses. Instead, select “Replace” and let the find feature bring you through the entire document. When you find items you would like to replace, select “Replace” again; when you find items you want to leave as is, select “Find Next” and move on.



Once you get comfortable using CTRL+F in your searches and writing, you’ll wonder what took you so long to learn this important skill.

Tech Tip: Create A Table Of Contents From PDF Bookmarks

Bookmarks in a PDF are very helpful for readers to navigate to different sections of a document. They also lets the document creator highlight areas for readers to “jump” to without having to page through the document. Whether you are using Adobe Acrobat or Nuance Power Converter Pro, the process to create bookmarks is nearly identical. You can add bookmarks manually  by selecting text in the document and press keys <ctrl+b> to add that text as a bookmark, or you can also have either program recognize Microsoft Word’s Styles and automatically add headers and subheaders as bookmarks. Microsoft Word Styles can also be used to generate a table of contents in the originating Word document and in the PDF version of the original document. However, there are many times where the source documents have no table of contents or several documents are combined into a single PDF.  Lawyers may want to also generate a hyperlinked and printable table of contents, and Nuance’s PowerPDF Advanced will easily create a hyperlinked table of contents from the PDF bookmarks you create.

Once you have created your bookmarks in Nuance PowerPDF Advanced, with the bookmarks view opened  click on the wrench icon in the Bookmarks tools menu.  Toward the bottom of the options that appear click to  create a “Table of Contents”. Use the settings to choose how it looks and how many levels deep to display. Once those decisions have been made click “ok” and then decided where you want the Table of Contents to be (first page, after the cover page, etc.). Voila a hyperlinked, automatically generated paginated table of contents will be inserted into your document.  Once you have created the TOC you have options to update it, or export it as a separate document in PDF.

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Create Table of Contents from Bookmarks


Your Dropbox Questions Answered

During the recent program “How to… Use Dropbox for File Management” (now available for free in the archives for CBA members) I received a number of great followup questions. Here they are, with my answers.

Q: My opposing counsel sent some documents to me in (I think) Dropbox and the email notice said access would expire after 48 hours. Is this common?

A: I can’t find any way to make a file expire via a link or shared folder in Dropbox. It must have been another service. I know in Hightail (fka YouSendIt) you can set a file to expire, as well as Acrobat SendNow – both popular services to share large files.

Q: Is it possible to use Dropbox to backup e-mail correspondence and folders, say from Outlook? I have been using Dropbox for a few months already but cannot figure out how could I achieve that. Thanks!

A: In MS Outlook you can set an automatic archive to save the .pst file to Dropbox. See these instructions: You can do this for all folders, or just specific folders.

Another option is to use Adobe Acrobat Pro to save emails and/or folders to PDF and then save them to a local drive or to Dropbox. In MS Outlook 2010, if you have Adobe Acrobat X Pro installed, right click on an individual email or on a folder. In the resulting drop down menu you should see the option to “convert to PDF”. Just follow the instructions on the screen and set the save location as a Dropbox folder. Or click on the Adobe PDF tab in MS Outlook to set automatic archives for folders.

I prefer the PDF format to .pst because you can open a PDF with any PDF reader, whereas you can only open .pst folders with MS Outlook (or a third party viewer).

Q: Can we limit a shared file with a client to “read only”?

A: Whether providing a link to a file with a client, or sharing a folder of documents with a client, Dropbox does not offer a “read only” function. You can send a client a link to a file – versus sharing a folder with a client – and they can view the file OR download it. So, if they download it they can edit it – if you don’t protect it first. You can accomplish that by restricting the original file before you make it available to clients via Dropbox.

Before sharing a MS Word file in Dropbox:

In MS Word 2010 go to the “Review” tab and choose “restrict editing” and then choose “no changes (read only)” from the drop down menu, like this:


Before sharing a PDF in Dropbox:

In Adobe Acrobat X go to File – Properties and choose the “security” tab. Choose “password security” from the drop down menu and you will get this screen:


Under Permissions check “restrict editing…” and create a password (which will allow you to make changes, but not anyone else). Then choose if you want to allow printing or not, and keep the default “Changes Allowed: None”.

If you have older versions of these software applications you still can modify permissions, they are just in a slightly different place.

Q: I set up my own Dropbox account, and then my boss shared some doc’s with me via Dropbox. However, I can only access the doc’s he shared with me via a link in the e-mail he sent me. I cannot access them through my own Dropbox account. Does this make sense, and do you know how this may have happened?

A: This issue points to the difference between sharing a link and inviting collaborators to a folder in Dropbox. In order for you to see the files he puts in his Dropbox folder that he wants you to have access to in your Dropbox he must go to Dropbox (screenshots are from the web interface) and right click on the folder he wants to share with you. He will see this menu:


Then instead of choosing “share link” choose “invite to folder”. He will get a dialog box and will put in your email address and a note (if he likes). Then you will both have access to that folder. If he makes a change to any of the documents on his hard drive, and the folder is synchronized, then you will have access to the latest versions of the documents.

Do you have a question about Dropbox or another technology? Got something to add to the answers above? Let me know in the comments!

New How to… and CLE Archives Available

New archives available:

Did you know that if you registered for a CBA LPMT CLE program or training class you can go back and watch the recording any time?  Simply log in to the Chicago Bar Association website and look under “Webcasts” and then select “My Seminars” from the drop down menu.  If you missed a session, the links to the recordings will be available on the LPMT site listed in the Program Archives link under “Upcoming Programs”. Just register to watch.

Also, all Chicago Bar Association members have access to previous progam materials, as well as white papers and other information.  Click on the “Articles (CBA Members Only)”  tab in the site header.

Create a Transparent Signature Stamp in Adobe Acrobat X

Learn how to create a transparent custom signature stamp for use in Adobe Acrobat to “sign” electronic documents. For more Acrobat tutorials see the archived programs from the Chicago Bar Association’s How To… series.

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