How To Search By File Type on Google

You probably think of using Google Search to look for blog posts, web pages, products to buy, images and videos. However, you can also tell Google that you’re looking for a specific type of file, like a PDF, spreadsheet or Word document. In this article, we’re going to teach you how to use the search filetype Google parameter.

We’ll be using Google Search operators, which are codes that tell Google the types of results you do or don’t want. For example, using search operators, you can search for a keyword on a specific website or search for a keyword and exclude a certain website.

For our purposes, you can use the search filetype Google operator to look for or exclude specific types of documents. Let’s get into it!

Which File Types Can You Search for on Google?

There are many different types of files you can search for on Google. The most popular ones include:

  • Google Earth
  • HTML
  • Image and video formats
  • Microsoft documents, including Excel, PowerPoint, etc.
  • PDF (Adobe Portable Document Format)

You can see a full list of the search filetype Google parameters that the search engine indexes, as well as the codes you’ll use when searching. For example, if the Google Earth file extension is .kml, you’ll search for filetype:kml followed by the location.

Should I Use the Search Google by File Type Strategy?

If you know you’re looking for a file instead of a web page — for example, maybe you want a document you’ve already seen that’s in PDF form — using Google Search by file type will narrow down your options. Here’s an example: If you search for packing list in Google, you’ll get over 3 billion results.

Results before using the search filetype Google operator.

If you search for filetype:pdf packing list, you’ll lower that number to around 65.5 million.

Results after using a search filetype Google parameter.

Now, are you going to look through 65 million results? Of course not. But with fewer results overall and narrowing down the scope to only include PDFs, you’re more likely to find what you want in the top search results.

The search filetype Google parameter can also help with competitor analysis. If you want to see which files your competitors are offering (or not offering so you can fill in those gaps), you can search by file type on their website.

How to Search by File Type on Google

There are a number of ways to use Google’s filetype search operators. We’ll walk you through how to look for what you want by including and excluding certain parameters.

Search Filetype on Google

The easiest way to search for a specific type of file on Google is to use the filetype operator, followed by a colon, the type of document you’re looking for, and a keyword.

For example, if I want a PowerPoint presentation (.ppt) about social media marketing, I would search Google for filetype:ppt social media marketing. Here’s what the top results look like:

Google results when searching for a PowerPoint presentation.

Here’s the search operator recipe: filetype:code keyword/phrase

Search for Multiple File Types

You can combine filetype search operators to look for more than one kind of file at a time. You do this by putting OR between the search operators.

For example, if I want either a PDF or a PowerPoint about social media marketing, I would search for filetype:ppt OR filetype:pdf social media marketing. Here’s what the top results look like:

Using more than one search filetype Google parameter.

Here’s the search operator recipe: filetype:code OR filetype:code keyword/phrase

Exclude Words or Phrases When You Search Google by File Type

To run a Google search by file type but exclude certain words, you’ll use a minus (-) sign.

For example, let’s search for a Microsoft Excel sheet (.xls) about budgeting but exclude the word “student.” We’ll search for filetype:xls budget -student. Here are the top search results:

Search results when excluding a word.

Here’s the search operator recipe: filetype:code keyword/phrase -keyword

If you want to exclude a search phrase instead of a single word, you’ll put it in quotations. Here’s the search operator recipe: filetype:code keyword/phrase -“keyword phrase”

Search Google for Files on a Specific Domain

To look for a file type on a specific website, you’ll use the site Google Search operator.

For example, let’s search for word search PDFs on Scholastic.com. We’ll type in filetype:pdf site:scholastic.com word search. Here are the top results:

Search results on a specific website.

Here’s the search operator recipe: filetype:code site:URL keyword/phrase

Exclude Results From a Specific Domain

You can also search for a file type on Google and exclude a domain by using the minus sign before site. Continuing with the example above, we’ll search for word search PDFs and exclude the Scholastic.com website. Here’s our search: filetype:pdf -site:scholastic.com word search

These are the top results:

Google Search results when excluding a website.

Here’s the search operator recipe: filetype:code -site:URL keyword/phrase

Tips for Searching by File Type on Google

There’s a lot you can do with the search filetype Google operator and other Google Search parameters.

Search for Long-Tail Keywords

The more specific your search query, the easier it will be to find exactly what you want. Instead of using a single word in Google Search, try a longer keyword phrase.

Searching for a long-tail keyword in Google.

Include a Keyword That Goes With the File Type

Certain words are associated with file types. For example, a Microsoft Excel document is a spreadsheet; an ebook is most likely a PDF. You can use these terms in your search to narrow down the options.

For example, if I want to look for an ebook about cooking basics, I can search for filetype:pdf cooking 101 ebook.

Searching for an ebook in Google.

Combine a Filetype Search With Other Operators

There are a lot of Google Search operators that you can use along with the filetype parameter. For example, to search for an exact match, put the keyword or phrase inside quotes: “affordable reading glasses”

Or, to search for a page that has a certain word in the title, use the intitle parameter:

Using the in-title Google Search operator.

This article from Ahrefs has a list of all the Google Search operators you can use.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how to use the search filetype Google operator doesn’t just let you find files. It lets you find the content you’re after in file form. You’ll have a much easier time hunting down academic papers, checklists, guides, ebooks, infographics, presentations, spreadsheets and white papers when you weed out regular web page results and hone in on exactly what you want.

You may also want to check out our article specifically about how to search Google for PDFs .

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