Searching by Patterns and Masks

In addition to searching for one or more text strings, searching can be done using pre-defined patterns or custom-defined patterns, known as masks.

Searching by pattern or mask can be done from the Edit menu, as described in About Searching. In can also be done with redacting so that found items are marked for redaction, as described in Searching and Redacting Text. Choose this from the Document menu. It can also be done with mark-up so that found items are highlighted, struck out or underlined. Access this in the drop-down list of the Text Markup Tool in the Comments toolbar. Patterns and masks can also be used with the command Scan and Markup in the Scan menu, see Creating PDF Files from a Scanner.


Pattern searches

Choose Patterns in the relevant Search dialog box and choose a pattern. A static text gives the structure that will be searched, together with examples.


Social Security numbers

These follow the US pattern, with nine consecutive digits or these digits separated by punctuation characters: nnn-nn-nnnn.


Phone numbers

This will find entries that have structures typical of US phone numbers, with or without area and country codes. Area codes in brackets are accepted.


Credit card numbers

These consist of 16 consecutive digits, or four groups of four digits separated by punctuation.


E-mail addresses

This pattern looks for the ampersand with characters before and after and typical domain names like com, net, org etc.



This pattern accepts a wide variety of date formats – different orders, with items as numbers or words, with varied punctuation.


Mask searches

Use a mask if the pre-defined patterns to not meet your needs, for instance if telephone numbers in your documents follow a different pattern, or you want to search items with a fixed structure not covered by a supplied pattern, for example car license plates, flight numbers or document identifiers in your own filing system.


Choose Arbitrary Mask in the relevant Search dialog box and type in a mask. Your mask defines the number of searched characters and whether they will be numbers, letters, punctuation or a mixture. A static text lists the acceptable characters in greater detail than this summary:


A = English alphabet letter only, upper or lower case (A-Z, a-z)

9 = Digit only (0-9)

O = Letter or digit

X = Letter, digit or punctuation (but not accented letters)




Be sure the mask is suitable, particularly if you are searching and redacting.



Searching by Patterns and Masks