I have recently installed helm but haven't gotten very far with using it so far. I noticed that I can run the command helm-pdfgrep-help and it shows me a list of keybindings. But I don't have a helm-pdfgrep (or pdfgrep-help for that matter).

What's the deal? The idea of using helm to search text in my pdf library sounds extremely useful. But a quick search on the web does not lead me to think helm-pdfgrep even exists.

  • It seems not exist for me.. I'm just using isearch now. (define-key pdf-view-mode-map (kbd "C-s") 'isearch-forward) Have you found other solutions?
    – Yang
    Feb 19, 2016 at 17:15

4 Answers 4


Running ag 'define.*pdf.*grep' (use grep instead of ag if you prefer) in the elpa/ directory returns this:

99:    (define-key map (kbd "M-g p")   'helm-ff-run-pdfgrep)

297:    (define-key map (kbd "M-g p")         'helm-ff-run-pdfgrep)

229:    (define-key map (kbd "C-c ?")    'helm-pdfgrep-help)

So the command to run pdfgrep using helm would be helm-ff-run-pdfgrep. Note that you need to have pdfgrep installed on your system for this to work.


You should be able to find out the same using apropos-command or C-h a pdfgrep RET. Another command you can called interactively is helm-do-pdfgrep.

I was unable to do so because I don't use helm and didn't require it but I had it installed.


To search pdf files, you need pick up these pdf files firstly via helm's file browser, i.e., helm-find-files, then launch pdf specific action (such as pdfgrep) there. The point is helm-find-files is the entry point, so there is no needs to make helm-pdfgrep/grep/git-grep/ack/ag/pt/zgrep etc.


What's the deal? The idea of using helm to search text in my pdf library sounds extremely useful.

To search through multiple pdf files with pdfgrep you first use helm-find-files, then type any pattern to narrow the file list down to files you want to search, then press M-a to select all, then press M-g p to call helm-ff-run-pdfgrep, and finally type the grep search pattern and wait for results.


Based on the results from kaushalmodi's answer, I'm thinking that there is unfortunately no standalone helm command for directly searching the content of multiple PDFs. But I did find that if I select a PDF using helm-locate and pressing Tab, there is an option on the list to use pdfgrep on that individual file using F9.

(Once I figured that out, I then tried to see if the shortcuts I saw listed from helm-pdfgrep-help would be useful. But now, helm-pdfgrep-help is just giving me an error: No buffer named *helm*.)

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