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How to Search in Google Sheets

We show you how to search for a word in Google Docs and to use find and replace if you want to change specific reappearing words easily.

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has emerged as a leading online spreadsheet application, seamlessly blending functionality with user-friendliness. Whether you're an expert in data analytics or someone simply organizing personal records, the ability to efficiently navigate and search within your is of paramount importance. This tutorial shows how to use the Google Sheets Find and Replace feature so you can effortlessly locate and modify data when needed.

How to Use the Find Option to Highlight All Matching Cells

  1. Press ˝Ctrl˝ + ˝F˝ to show the search box
     
    Windows 11 - Google Sheets - Find in Sheet
  2. Enter the words or characters you want to find
     
    Type something you wish to search the worksheet for in the text box that appears just below the Extensions tab in the toolbar.
     
    Windows 11 - Google Sheets - Find in Sheet - Type Word
  3. Navigate through the search results
     
    Use the arrows to the right of the text search box to navigate through each matched item. Green highlighting will allow you to scan through the results more easily.
     
    Windows 11 - Google Sheets - Find in Sheet - Type Word - Find Next Word

How to Use Find and Replace in Google Sheets

“Find and replace” offers the ability to swiftly modify or correct data, ensuring accuracy and consistency. Whether rectifying errors, updating terminology, or ensuring uniformity, the Find and Replace function significantly enhances efficiency.

  1. Click “Edit” and then “Find and replace”
     
    Alternatively, you can bring up “Find and replace” using the hotkey “CTRL+H”.
     
    Windows 11 - Google Sheets - Edit - Find and Replace
  2. You can use “Find and replace” as an advanced version of the search feature
     
    Windows 11 - Google Sheets - Edit - Find and Replace - Type Word - Find - Result

  3. To replace text in the Google Sheet, enter the text at “Replace with” and choose the desired option
     
    You can either click “Replace” once or several times which will only replace the matching text one after another. “Replace all” will replace all occurrences in the whole Google spreadsheet at once.
     
    Windows 11 - Google Sheets - Edit - Find and Replace
  4. Optional: Define, where text should be replaced
     
    You can limit to use the Find and replace feature to the current sheet, apply it to “All sheets” or select a “Specific range” of sheets you want to replace text in.
     
    Windows 11 - Google Sheets - Edit - Find and Replace - Search
  5. Define, how to search for text
     
    “Match case”
    is very useful to distinguish between lower case and title case. You can also search for entire cell contents, expand or limit the search to formulas, and use regular expressions. If you don´t know how to use regular expressions, click “Help”.
     
    Windows 11 - Google Sheets - Edit - Find and Replace - More Options

How to Search in Google Sheets Using Conditional Formatting 

Instead of using “Search” or “Find and replace”, you can use “Conditional Formatting” to mark/highlight cells that include certain text. The main benefit of doing this is that the highlighting will stay there until removed which allows you to work through the spreadsheet afterwards independently.

  1. Open ˝Format” from the menu and select ˝Conditional formatting˝
     
    Windows 11 - Google Sheets - Format - Conditional Formatting
  2. Select cells for “Conditional formatting”
     
    In “Single color” – “Apply to range”, enter the data range of the cells you want to find text and thus highlight.

    Windows 11 - Google Sheets - Format - Conditional Formatting - Apply to - Select Range - Accept

  3. Select “Text contains” in “Format rules” – “Format cells if”
     
    Windows 11 - Google Sheets - Format - Conditional Formatting - Format Rules - Text Contains
  4. Fill in the text or characters you want to find and highlight
     
    Windows 11 - Google Sheets - Format - Conditional Formatting - Format Rules - Text Contains - Type Word
  5. Choose your preferred “Formatting style”
     
    You can choose text formatting, such as bold, italics, underlined, strikethrough, or using a background color to highlight every cell where text is found.
     
    Windows 11 - Google Sheets - Format - Conditional Formatting - Formatting Style - File Color
  6. Using the yellow color for highlighters is usually a good option
     
    Windows 11 - Google Sheets - Format - Conditional Formatting - Formatting Style - File Color - Select Color
  7. Click “Done” to activate and apply the conditional formatting rule
     
    Windows 11 - Google Sheets - Format - Conditional Formatting - Done
  8. Every cell containing the text in the Google sheet that contains the specified text will appear as highlighted 
     
    Windows 11 - Google Sheets - Format - Conditional Formatting - Result
  9. Optional: Apply other formatting rules
     
    Unlike the Google Sheets “Search” or “Find and replace” feature, you can use Conditional formatting also to highlight cells/text that does not contain or  starts/ends with certain characters.
     
    Windows 11 - Google Sheets - Format - Conditional Formatting - More Options

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions About Searching in Google Sheets

How can I search for data within a specific range without using ‘Find and Replace'?

To conduct a search within a specified range in Google Sheets, first select the range of cells where you want to perform the search. Then, initiate the search by pressing Ctrl + F (or Cmd + F on Mac). The search will then be confined to the selected cells. This method is particularly useful when you want to focus on a subset of your data without disturbing other parts of your spreadsheet.

Is it possible to use ‘Find and Replace' to modify cell formats, such as changing font color?

The ‘Find and Replace‘ feature in Google Sheets primarily targets text content and does not directly alter cell formats like font color or background. To modify cell formatting based on specific text, you can utilize ‘Conditional Formatting' where you set rules to change the appearance of cells that meet certain criteria. For instance, to change the font color for cells containing the word “Complete“, you would set a Conditional Formatting rule where the format is applied if the text contains “Complete“.

Can I automate repetitive search and replace tasks in Google Sheets?

Automating repetitive tasks, including search and replace operations, can be achieved through Google Apps Script, a powerful scripting platform provided by Google. By writing custom scripts, you can create functions that automate these tasks based on specific triggers, such as onEdit or onOpen, or even create custom menu options within your Google Sheets interface. This is particularly handy for complex or frequent operations that go beyond the standard functionality of the ‘Find and Replace' feature.

How do I search for cells that are blank or contain only spaces in Google Sheets?

To find and highlight blank cells or those containing only spaces, ‘Conditional Formatting' offers a practical solution. For blank cells, apply a rule with the custom formula =ISBLANK(A1) over the desired range, adjusting the cell reference as needed. For cells with spaces, use =TRIM(A1)=””, which will highlight cells where removing spaces results in an empty string. This method helps visually identify such cells for further action or review.

Is there a quick way to clear all Conditional Formatting rules from a sheet?

Clearing all Conditional Formatting rules from a Google Sheet requires manually removing each rule. Access the ‘Conditional Formatting‘ rules through ‘Format>Conditional formatting‘, then navigate through the list of rules in the sidebar. Click ‘Remove rule‘ for each, or adjust as necessary. While this process can be time-consuming for sheets with many rules, it's the current method for managing extensive Conditional Formatting setups.

How can I share a Google Sheet with Conditional Formatting without giving edit access?

Sharing a Google Sheet with Conditional Formatting while restricting edit access is straightforward. When sharing the sheet, choose either ‘View' or ‘Comment' access for the recipients. This ensures that viewers can see the Conditional Formatting effects but cannot alter the rules or any other content within the sheet. This sharing setting is ideal for distributing reports or data insights where the visual aspect of Conditional Formatting adds value to the information presented.

Can I use Conditional Formatting based on the value of another cell?

Google Sheets allows Conditional Formatting to dynamically reference other cells in its rules. For example, to apply formatting to cells in column B based on values in column A, you could use a formula like =$A1=”Specific Value” within the Conditional Formatting rule applied to column B. This capability enables a variety of dynamic visualizations, such as highlighting an entire row based on a single cell's value or visual comparisons between columns.

How do I apply Conditional Formatting to new rows or columns added after the rule was created?

To ensure that Conditional Formatting automatically applies to new rows or columns, set the range in your formatting rule to encompass potential future additions. For example, if your data is in column A and might expand, set the range as A:A or A1:A1000 to cover a large number of future rows. This proactive approach means that as you add data, the Conditional Formatting rules will already be in place to format new entries according to the established criteria.

Can ‘Find and Replace' be used to swap the positions of two words within a cell?

Swapping the positions of two words within a cell using ‘Find and Replace' involves a multi-step process, as this tool doesn't directly support such complex text manipulations. First, replace one word with a temporary placeholder that doesn't appear elsewhere in your text. Then, replace the second word with the first word, and finally, replace the placeholder with the second word. This method requires careful planning to avoid unintended replacements, especially in cells with diverse or complex text content.

How to export a list of all Conditional Formatting rules applied in a sheet?

While Google Sheets doesn't offer a built-in feature to directly export Conditional Formatting rules, you can document these rules manually or use Google Apps Script to programmatically read and export the rules. Writing a script to access the Conditional Formatting rules can provide a structured export, such as in a CSV format, which can be useful for documentation or analysis purposes, especially in complex sheets with numerous rules.

Is it possible to link the search result from one sheet to another automatically?

Automatically linking search results from one sheet to another is not a direct feature of Google Sheets. However, you can achieve a similar outcome using formulas like VLOOKUP, INDEX, and MATCH, or QUERY to dynamically pull matching data based on specific criteria. These functions can be used to create a summary or lookup sheet that references data from other sheets based on your search parameters, updating automatically as the source data changes.

Can I set Conditional Formatting to highlight a row based on a cell's value in that row?

To highlight an entire row based on a cell's value within that row, use Conditional Formatting with a custom formula applied to the rows you want to format. For example, to highlight rows where column A contains “Complete“, apply the rule to the desired range (e.g., A:Z) with the formula =$A1=”Complete”. This method allows for dynamic highlighting across rows, making it easier to visually manage and interpret data based on specific criteria.

How do I ensure that ‘Find and Replace' does not affect formulas that contain similar text to what is being replaced?

To prevent ‘Find and Replace' from altering text within formulas, ensure the ‘Also search within formulas' option is unchecked in the ‘Find and Replace' dialog box. This precaution is crucial when working with sheets that contain formulas with text that might coincidentally match your search criteria, as inadvertently modifying formulas can lead to incorrect calculations or errors.

Can I use Conditional Formatting to highlight cells that contain a formula?

Highlighting cells that contain formulas can be achieved with Conditional Formatting using a custom formula such as =ISFORMULA(A1). Apply this rule to the desired range, and it will highlight cells with formulas, providing a visual cue to distinguish them from cells with static values. This is particularly useful for auditing or reviewing sheets to understand where dynamic calculations are being used.

Is there a way to highlight cells based on their text length using Conditional Formatting?

To highlight cells based on text length, use Conditional Formatting with a custom formula like =LEN(A1)>10 (or any specific number you choose), applied across the desired range. This formula will highlight cells where the text exceeds the specified character count, allowing for quick identification of cells with lengthy content. This functionality is useful for data validation, ensuring consistency in data entry, or identifying outliers in datasets.

Extra: How to Make a Google Form / Google Survey

Google Forms is a web-based application that allows you to create and share online forms and use as a free survey maker with multiple question types. With Google Forms, you can easily design your forms with different themes and settings, send them to your target audience via email or link, analyze the responses in real time or export them to Google Sheets for further analysis. In our other guide, we show you how you can create Google Forms, share your Google survey and how to generate a results view.
 
Featured - How to create a google form

Extra: How to Make a Graph in Google Sheets

Google Sheets offers a robust suite of tools to convert your data into meaningful graphs. Whether you're looking to create a simple line chart or a more intricate pie chart, Google Sheets has got you covered. The platform's intuitive interface ensures that even those new to data visualization can craft compelling graphs with ease. Our other tutorial will guide you through the nuances of creating and customizing graphs in Google Sheets.
 
Featured - How to Make a Graph in Google Sheets

Extra: How to Make a Google Form / Google Survey

Google Forms is a web-based application that allows you to create and share online forms and use as a free survey maker with multiple question types. You can use Google Forms for various purposes, such as collecting feedback, conducting research, organizing events, testing knowledge, and more. Google Forms is part of the suite of that integrates with other Google services like , Drive, Calendar, and Sheets. In our other guide, we show you how to create a Google Form, how to share your poll, and where you can view results.
 
Featured - How to create a google form

Last Updated on April 21, 2024 8:59 am CEST

Markus Kasanmascheff
Markus Kasanmascheff
Markus is the founder of WinBuzzer and has been playing with Windows and technology for more than 25 years. He is holding a Master´s degree in International Economics and previously worked as Lead Windows Expert for Softonic.com.
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