How to Use Google to Find Files Online

Do a 'filetype' search to find PDFs and more

Google can be useful for finding more than just web pages. With the tricks described below, you'll even be able to locate files.

To do a search by filetype just means that you're narrowing down the results to show only the ones that include files. When Google is used to find files, you can locate books, documents, sheet music, Microsoft Word files, and more.

Files You Can Find on Google

Google can locate a large handful of files, and some are even indexed, meaning that you can search for files that have a specific term in them.

This is a list of just some of the files you can find with a Google search (others might be supported, too):

Common File Types Google Supports
Format File Extension
Adobe Flash SWF
Adobe Portable Document Format PDF
Adobe PostScript PS
Autodesk Design Web Format DWF
Google Earth KML, KMZ
GPS eXchange Format GPX
Hancom Hanword HWP
Hypertext Markup Language HTM, HTML
Microsoft Excel XLS, XLSX
Microsoft PowerPoint PPT, PPTX
Microsoft Word DOC, DOCX
OpenOffice presentation ODP
OpenOffice spreadsheet ODS
OpenOffice text ODT
Rich Text Format RTF
Scalable Vector Graphics SVG
TeX/LaTeX TEX
Text TXT, TEXT, BAS, C, CC, CPP, CXX, H, HPP, CS, JAVA, PL, PY
Wireless Markup Language WML, WAP
Extensible Markup Language XML

How to Search By File Type

The filetype command is used to perform a Google file search. When you use that operator in your searches, the file extension that you tie with it immediately narrows down all results to show only that file type.

For example, you might search for PDFs on Google if you're looking for books in that file format:

filetype:pdf "jane eyre"

What follows the file type is the search term that you want Google to look for within the files.

Google PDF search for Jane Eyre

Always surround multiple words in quotation marks if you want to keep them together as a single phrase.

This same pattern works for any of the file types. For example, to locate resumes samples in the DOCX file format:

filetype:docx resume

If you're a musician and you want to use Google to find sheet music, your best bet is to use the PDF file-type search:

"moonlight sonata" "sheet music" filetype:pdf

Combining Other Commands

Google supports lots of advanced commands, any of which you can combine with a filetype search to dig even deeper into the files you're looking for.

Find Resumes on Google

filetype:docx site:edu inurl:resume
Google resume search

In this first example, we're looking for MS Word files, but the site search eliminates all top-level domains except EDU sites, and the inurl command lets us find only the Word files where the URL contains the word resume.

Search Within PDFs and URLs

filetype:pdf site:gov report inurl:2001

For this search, we're finding PDFs that have the word report in them, but only if the URL also includes 2001. The idea here is to locate files that have been categorized in a 2001 folder on the site's server, which will likely find reports published in that year.

Find Map Files

filetype:kml kansas

A KML file search like this one shows custom map files related to the Kansas search term. Some results might include map annotations for bicycle trails, lakes, car repair shops, etc. You could also find KML files that cover a specific map visualization, such as meteors (e.g., search for filetype:kml meteor).

Locate Flash Games

filetype:swf bloons

Can't find an online game that you used to love to play? A filetype search for SWF files might help, so long as the game is available as a Flash file.