I've got a folder full of about 2000 MS Word (DOC and DOCX) files that I need to do complex searches in -- for example, finding documents that contain John but not John Doe. Or 21,000 but not 21,000,000. I can't see a way to do that with Spotlight. Word will do it, but only on one file at a time. EasyFind would do it on a folder full of files, but it won't search text inside Word documents.

The best idea I can come up with is to convert all the Word files to RTF format, and then do the search either with EasyFind or BBEdit. The unix command textutil does this very nicely and quickly (about 2000 docs in about 3 seconds).

But I need to preserve the modification dates from the original files -- and I can't see a way to do that with textutil.

Does anyone have a suggestion? Is there a better search program? Or a way to convert the documents and keep the modification dates?

  • 1
    Firstly, welcome to Ask Different! :) Out of curiosity, are the modification dates relevant in terms of your complex search criteria? I guess what I'm getting at, is there a reason why you couldn't just copy the MS Word files first and then modify the copies to conduct your complex searches?
    – Monomeeth
    Aug 13, 2018 at 2:03
  • Thanks -- I'm happy to be here. The modification dates are relevant because the files are essentially a diary and I need to know when each entry was written. I'm not sure what you're thinking of when you say "modify the copies", but changing the mod date of 2000 files by hand is a hard job.
    – Steve_24
    Aug 13, 2018 at 3:24
  • I just noticed that textutil has an option called -modificationtime. But I don't see a way to specify that it should set the modificationtime to be the same as the source file's. But I'm guessing there's some way to script that. Any suggestions there?
    – Steve_24
    Aug 13, 2018 at 3:39


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