Can You Find and Replace Words in Google Docs?

The 'Find and Replace' tool lets you quickly replace text in GDocs

Google docs
Google docs

The Google Docs online word processor makes replacing any text within a document of any length quite simple. With just a couple clicks in the menus, or with the even quicker hotkey, you can open the Find and replace tool to replace any word or phrase with different text.

There are lots of scenarios where replacing text in Google Docs comes in handy. Maybe you have a paper due tomorrow and you've only just now realized that you misspelled a name that's written a dozen times throughout 30 pages. Instead of manually finding each instance of that name and making the changes yourself, you can pull up the Find and replace tool to fix it for you in seconds.

Directions

Screenshot of the 'find and replace' tool in Google Docs

You can open the Find and replace tool in Google Docs through the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+H (Windows) or Command+Shift+H (macOS). Another way to find and replace text in Google Docs is through the menu.

  1. With the document open, go to Edit > Find and replace.
  2. Type the word or phrase to find in the Find field.
  3. Enter the new word(s) in the Replace with field.
  4. Click the Replace all button to replace all of the text in the Find field with the text you entered in the Replace with field.
    1. Another option is to use the < Prev and Next > buttons to find each instance of the word and then click Replace to replace the word. You might do this if you only want to replace some of the instances and not every single one in the document.

More Examples

The option to find and replace text isn't constrained to text only. You can look for numbers and other characters, too, and even use regular expressions to search for text. For instance, you can find every sentence that ends with "option." and replace them with "option!", or whatever else you want.

Screenshot showing how to remove a phrase in Google Docs with the find and replace tool

Another example of how useful a find and replace tool can be is for deleting words in bulk. With Google Docs, enter the word(s) to be removed and then replace them with a space or nothing at all to essentially delete the words.

Screenshot of Google Docs looking for words that match the case

The Match case option lets you search for words with specific letters in upper case or lower case. For example, maybe you want to replace the word "mom" but only if it's capitalized in your document as "Mom," in which case you would type Mom in the From field and enable the Match case option. In this example nothing else would be replaced, even if "mom" is spelled "MOm" or "MOM," or in some other fashion.

The Find Tool

Because of its name, the Find and replace tool might seem like the way Google Docs finds text, too, and not just replaces it. However, there's a dedicated tool for finding text in Google Docs that you can get to through the Ctrl+F (Windows) or Command+F (macOS) shortcut.

Screenshot of the find tool in Google Docs looking for text

It's not as advanced as the replace tool, but it works well to quickly locate text, numbers, and other characters within the document. With the find tool open, you can quickly jump into the Find and replace tool by clicking the three-dotted button next to it.

What Is Google Docs?

Google Docs is a free online word processor. You can write, edit, and collaborate within Google Docs on a computer or mobile device.

To create a new Google document, open Google Docs and click the plus sign. Or, upload an existing file to Google Drive and edit it online through Google Docs. Google Docs also has lots of premade templates to help you get started if you already know what kind of document you want.

You can also easily share a Google Docs document. When you share a document, you can let other people—even nonusers—edit it with you simultaneously. You can do this by making a shareable link, or if you're sharing with another Google user, it's as easy as entering their email address in the File > Share > Share with others box.