How to Find Hidden Text on a Website

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It can drive you crazy! You've searched the Internet for some obscure term, like a rare disease or a little-known company, and found a site that contains your term. But when you visit the Web page, the term is nowhere to be found. The search engine results insist the word is there, somewhere, but when you check the site itself, it's simply not obvious where, if anywhere, you can find your hidden term. A few tricks can reveal hidden text on a website.

Use "Find"

  • Text can be present on a site but hard to see because it's in a tiny font or in an obscure location on a busy Web page. Your browser has a built-in tool to search the site. Type "Ctrl-F" to open up a search box, type the text you're looking for in the search box and press "Enter." The text you're seeking will be highlighted on the page if it's present. Be sure to check pull-down menus for the text, if it's not obviously visible on the main part of the page.

Use "Highlight All"

  • Text may genuinely be hidden on a Web page due to odd font styles, such as using a white font on a white background. Text made invisible like this can be quickly revealed by typing "Ctrl-A" to highlight the entire page. Once highlighted, hidden text will be in plain view.

Use Site Search

  • Google and Bing both offer search syntax you can use to search a specific site. If you're looking for the hidden text "abracadabra" on example.com, for instance, you can search: abracadabra site:example.com. The search results will reveal all instances of "abracadabra" at example.com.

View Source Code

  • The most powerful option for revealing hidden text is also the messiest and is best used as a last resort. Right-click your mouse to open a list of options and click "View page source." This action will open a new window containing the actual code used to create the page. If you're not a coder yourself, you'll see a lot of apparent gibberish like "TPModHdrClick",function(n)," but the source code will also contain all text on the page -- even hidden content. You can use the "Ctrl-F" function to search for the text you're seeking.

Check a Cached Copy

  • Sometimes, the content you're seeking is no longer present on the current copy of a website, but may have existed on an earlier version of the page. You can view a cached copy of the site at the Internet Archive (see link in Resources) by entering the page's URL and clicking on the date you want to review. You can also view cached pages in Google by searching for the page using the "cache" syntax: cache:example.com.

References

  • Photo Credit John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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