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Search and use find and replace

You can find and replace words in a document, spreadsheet, or presentation with Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. You can also search within a file using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + f (⌘ + f on a Mac).

Use find and replace in a document or presentation

  1. Open a document or presentation in Google Docs or Google Slides.
  2. Click Edit and then Find and replace.
  3. Next to "Find," type the word you want to find. If you want to replace the word, enter the new word next to "Replace with."
  4. To see the next time the word is used, click Next. To go back to the previous word, click Prev.
  5. Optional: Narrow your search by using an option below.
    • Match case: Matches only words with the same capitalization.
    • Match using regular expressions: Matches words based on regular expressions.
  6. To replace the highlighted word, click Replace. To replace the word every time it’s used, click Replace all.

Use find and replace in a spreadsheet

  1. Open a spreadsheet in Google Sheets.
  2. Click Edit and then Find and replace.
  3. Next to "Find," type the word you want to find, If you want to replace the word, enter the new word next to "Replace with."
  4. To search for the word, click Find. To see the next time the word is used, click Find again.
  5. Optional: Narrow your search by using an option below.
    • Match case: Makes your search case-sensitive.
    • Match entire cell contents: Searches for cells that are an exact match.
    • Search using regular expressions: Searches for cells that match a pattern.
    • Also search within formulas: Searches include formulas.
  6. To replace the highlighted word, click Replace. To replace the word every time it’s used, click Replace all.

Find and replace items using regular expressions

You can find and replace strings of text, including characters, numbers, words, or patterns with regular expressions.

Find words using regular expressions

  1. Open a Google file.
  2. Click Edit and then Find and replace.
  3. Next to "Find," type the expression and click Search using regular expressions or Match using regular expressions.
  4. Click Find.

When you use Find and replace, your results may change based on which boxes are checked. The examples below are with "Match case" checked and "Match entire cell contents" (for spreadsheets) unchecked.

See an example

Search for dollar amounts

  • Enter into "Find": ^\$([0-9,]+)?[.][0-9]+
  • This string means a dollar amount where the first number is any number 0-9 or comma occurring zero or more times, followed by [.], followed by any number 0-9 repeated one or more times. This search could find numbers like: $4.666, $17.86, $7.76, $.54, $900,001.00, $523,877,231.56.

Search for U.S. zip codes

  • Enter into "Find": [0-9]{5}(-[0-9]{4})?
  • This string represents a U.S. zip code consisting of five numbers with an optional hyphen and four-digit add-on.

Search for names that start with a lowercase letter

  • Enter into "Find": ^[a-z].*
  • This string represents a cell with a lowercase letter followed by another character 0 or more times. This search would find: bob, jim, gEORGE, marTin.

Replace with regular expressions

You can replace parts of a regular expression with capture groups. You reference these capture groups in the "Replace" string using the format "$<group number>."

See an example

The expression (\d*)/\d*/(\d{4}) matches dates such as 3/8/2015. This expression has two capture groups.

  1. (\d*) - Matches the month
  2. (\d{4}) - Matches the year

To replace each date matched with the above regular expression to the first date of the month, you would use the string "$1/1/$2." The date 3/8/2015 would be replaced with 3/1/2015.

Regular expressions

Google products use RE2 for regular expressions. You can see all of the RE2 expressions on GitHub.

If you want to search for a character that has a meaning in regular expressions, such as $, put a backslash in front of it. For example, to search for the $ character, you'd write \$.

Common regular expressions

Expression

Description

Example

Matches

Does not match

.

A period represents any character in the given position.

d.

do, dog, dg, ads

fog, jog

*

An asterisk after a character represents a search for that preceding character repeated 0 or more times.

do*g

dog, dg, dooog

dOg, doug

+

A plus after a character represents a search for that character displayed 1 or more times.

do+g

dog, dooog

dg, dOg, doug

?

The previous expression is optional.

do?g

dg, dog

dOg, doug

^

A caret must be placed at the beginning of a regular expression. It signifies the string starts with the character(s) or sequence placed after the caret.

^[dh]og

dog, hog

A dog, his hog

$

A dollar sign must be placed at the end of a regular expression and signifies that the string ends with the character(s) or sequence placed before the dollar sign.

[dh]og$

dog, hog, hot dog

dogs, hogs, doggy

{A, B}

The previous expression is repeated between A and B times, where A and B are numbers.

d(o{1,2})g

dog, doog

dg, dooog, dOg

[x], [xa], [xa5]

A character set indicates that just one of the given character(s) should occur in the current position. Usually, any characters are valid within brackets, including characters mentioned previously in expressions: [xa,$5Gg.]

d[ou]g

dog, dug

dg, dOg, dooog

[a-z]

A character set range signifies a search for a character within the given range of characters. Common ranges include a-z, A-Z, and 0-9. Ranges can be combined into a single range: [a-zA-Z0-9]. Ranges can also be combined with character sets (mentioned previously): [a-zA-Z,&*].

d[o-u]g

dog, dug, dpg, drg

dg, dOg, dag

[^a-fDEF]

A character set beginning with a ^ signifies a search for a character that is not within the given set.

d[^aeu]g

dog, dOg, dig, d$g

dg, dag, deg, dug

\s

Any white-space character.

d\sg

d g, d[TAB]g

dg, dog,

Mary is a Docs & Drive expert and author of this help page. Leave her feedback below about the page.

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