I used to do this all the time. For example, I'd search for "blue house" (two words, with double quotes) and it would find the text "the blue house on the corner", but not "paint the house green and blue".

Lately it doesn't work. Did they remove the feature? Any way to get it back? I think it stopped working in macOS 12, but at the moment I'm on 13.0 Ventura. (Preview 11.0)

  • I don't have macOS 13.0 installed yet but I have Preview 11.0 running on macOS v12.6.1 and I can confirm that I can search for an exact multi-word phrase, i.e. get the blue house but not the blue and green house in a PDF document via Preview using double quotes, i.e. "blue house", in the search window.
    – Alper
    Nov 1, 2022 at 2:54
  • @Alper It no longer works that way. It seems to be a bug (and annoying one at that) because the Apple macOS Ventura documentation says double quotes is how to do it. Unfortunately it doesn't. The accepted answer is how you have to do it in Ventura (I seem to recall maybe 12 too but not sure now).
    – Pryftan
    Feb 25, 2023 at 16:22

1 Answer 1


I can't be sure the following solution will work in your case because it might be different under macOS 13 and I'm running macOS 12.5:

Click the down-arrow head next to the search field in Preview and make sure Exact Phrase is checked. Here is a screenshot:

exact phrase checked image

  • 1
    This is correct in Ventura yes. I seem to recall in 12 it also was this way. I deem it a bug and an annoying bug at that. I think bug because the Apple macOS Ventura documentation suggests double quotes should work.
    – Pryftan
    Feb 25, 2023 at 16:23
  • 1
    That's a morning wasted trying to work out how to search for phrases. Searching with quotes no longer works in Finder. Using pdfgrep for now. BTW, to see the above toolbar go to View -> Show Toolbar
    – jbrown
    Mar 11, 2023 at 12:12
  • Worse yet, once 'Exact Phrase' is checked, it remains so even if you close and re-open the document. Sep 24, 2023 at 20:41
  • This doesn't work for me on macOS Sonoma (v14). For example, searching for SSI will match the substring in a word like 'mission'. May 6 at 22:16
  • @StefanLasiewski have you tried putting a space before and after the search string? May 13 at 2:23

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .