script - How do I find all files containing specific text on Linux?




use grep to search for text in a file (20)

How do I find all files containing specific text on Linux? (...)

I came across this solution twice:

find / -type f -exec grep -H 'text-to-find-here' {} \;


If using find like in your example, better add -s (--no-messages) to grep, and 2>/dev/null at the end of the command to avoid lots of Permission denied messages issued by grep and find:

find / -type f -exec grep -sH 'text-to-find-here' {} \; 2>/dev/null

find is the standard tool for searching files - combined with grep when looking for specific text - on Unix-like platforms. The find command is often combined with xargs, by the way.

Faster and easier tools exist for the same purpose - see below. Better try them, provided they're available on your platform, of course:

Faster and easier alternatives

RipGrep - fastest search tool around:

rg 'text-to-find-here' / -l

The Silver Searcher:

ag 'text-to-find-here' / -l

ack:

ack 'text-to-find-here' / -l

Note: You can add 2>/dev/null to these commands as well, to hide many error messages.


Warning: unless you really can't avoid it, don't search from '/' (the root directory) to avoid a long and inefficient search! So in the examples above, you'd better replace '/' by a sub-directory name, e.g. "/home" depending where you actually want to search...

I'm trying to find a way to scan my entire Linux system for all files containing a specific string of text. Just to clarify, I'm looking for text within the file, not in the file name.

When I was looking up how to do this, I came across this solution twice:

find / -type f -exec grep -H 'text-to-find-here' {} \;

However, it doesn't work. It seems to display every single file in the system.

Is this close to the proper way to do it? If not, how should I? This ability to find text strings in files would be extraordinarily useful for some programming projects I'm doing.


List of file names containing a given text

First of all, I believe you have used -H instead of -l. Also you can try adding the text inside quotes followed by {} \.

find / -type f -exec grep -l "text-to-find-here" {} \; 

Example

Let's say you are searching for files containing specific text "Apache License" inside your directory. It will display results somewhat similar to below (output will be different based on your directory content).

bash-4.1$ find . -type f -exec grep -l "Apache License" {} \; 
./net/java/jvnet-parent/5/jvnet-parent-5.pom
./commons-cli/commons-cli/1.3.1/commons-cli-1.3.1.pom
./io/swagger/swagger-project/1.5.10/swagger-project-1.5.10.pom
./io/netty/netty-transport/4.1.7.Final/netty-transport-4.1.7.Final.pom
./commons-codec/commons-codec/1.9/commons-codec-1.9.pom
./commons-io/commons-io/2.4/commons-io-2.4.pom
bash-4.1$ 

Remove case sensitiveness

Even if you are not use about the case like "text" vs "TEXT", you can use the -i switch to ignore case. You can read further details here.

Hope this helps you.


grep can be used even if we're not looking for a string.

Simply running,

grep -RIl "" .

will print out the path to all text files, i.e. those containing only printable characters.


A Simple find can work handy. alias it in your ~/.bashrc file:

alias ffind find / -type f | xargs grep

Start a new terminal and issue:

ffind 'text-to-find-here'

Avoid the hassle and install ack-grep. It eliminates a lot of permission and quotation issues.

apt-get install ack-grep

Then go to the directory you want to search and run the command below

cd /
ack-grep "find my keyword"

Do the following:

grep -rnw '/path/to/somewhere/' -e 'pattern'
  • -r or -R is recursive,
  • -n is line number, and
  • -w stands for match the whole word.
  • -l (lower-case L) can be added to just give the file name of matching files.

Along with these, --exclude, --include, --exclude-dir flags could be used for efficient searching:

  • This will only search through those files which have .c or .h extensions:

    grep --include=\*.{c,h} -rnw '/path/to/somewhere/' -e "pattern"
    
  • This will exclude searching all the files ending with .o extension:

    grep --exclude=*.o -rnw '/path/to/somewhere/' -e "pattern"
    
  • For directories it's possible to exclude a particular directory(ies) through --exclude-dir parameter. For example, this will exclude the dirs dir1/, dir2/ and all of them matching *.dst/:

    grep --exclude-dir={dir1,dir2,*.dst} -rnw '/path/to/somewhere/' -e "pattern"
    

This works very well for me, to achieve almost the same purpose like yours.

For more options check man grep.


Hope this is of assistance...

Expanding the grep a bit to give more information in the output, for example, to get the line number in the file where the text is can be done as follows:

find . -type f -name "*.*" -print0 | xargs --null grep --with-filename --line-number --no-messages --color --ignore-case "searthtext"

And if you have an idea what the file type is you can narrow your search down by specifying file type extensions to search for, in this case .pas OR .dfm files:

find . -type f \( -name "*.pas" -o -name "*.dfm" \) -print0 | xargs --null grep --with-filename --line-number --no-messages --color --ignore-case "searchtext"

Short explanation of the options:

  1. . in the find specifies from the current directory.
  2. -name "*.*" : for all files ( -name "*.pas" -o -name "*.dfm" ) : Only the *.pas OR *.dfm files, OR specified with -o
  3. -type f specifies that you are looking for files
  4. -print0 and --null on the other side of the | (pipe) are the crucial ones, passing the filename from the find to the grep embedded in the xargs, allowing for the passing of filenames WITH spaces in the filenames, allowing grep to treat the path and filename as one string, and not break it up on each space.

I am fascinated by how simple grep makes it with 'rl'

grep -rl 'pattern_to_find' /path/where/to/find

-r to find recursively file / directory inside directories..
-l to list files matching the 'pattern'

Use '-r' without 'l' to see the file names followed by text in which the pattern is found!

grep -r 'pattern_to_find' /path/where/to/find

Works just perfect..

Hope it helps!


If your grep doesn't support recursive search, you can combine find with xargs:

find / -type f | xargs grep 'text-to-find-here'

I find this easier to remember than the format for find -exec.

This will output the filename and the content of the matched line, e.g.

/home/rob/file:text-to-find-here

Optional flags you may want to add to grep:

  • -i - case insensitive search
  • -l - only output the filename where the match was found
  • -h - only output the line which matched (not the filename)

Silver Searcher is a terrific tool, but ripgrep may be even better.

It works on Linux, Mac and Windows, and was written up on Hacker News a couple of months ago (this has a link to Andrew Gallant's Blog which has a GitHub link):

Ripgrep – A new command line search tool


There is an ack tool that would do exactly what you are looking for.

http://linux.die.net/man/1/ack

ack -i search_string folder_path/*

You may ignore -i for case sensitive search


There's a new utility called The Silversearcher

sudo apt install silversearcher-ag

It works closely with Git and other VCS. So you won't get anything in a .git or another directory.

You can simply use

ag -ia "Search query"

And it will do the task for you!


Try this:

find . | xargs grep 'word' -sl

Try:

find . -name "*.txt" | xargs grep -i "text_pattern"

Use pwd to search from any directory you are in, recursing downward

grep -rnw `pwd` -e "pattern"

Update Depending on the version of grep you are using, you can omit pwd. On newer versions . seems to be the default case for grep if no directory is given thus:

grep -rnw -e "pattern"

or

grep -rnw "pattern"

will do the same thing as above!


Use:

grep -c Your_Pattern *

This will report how many copies of your pattern are there in each of the files in the current directory.


You can use grep -ilR:

grep -Ril "text-to-find-here" /
  • i stands for ignore case (optional in your case).
  • R stands for recursive.
  • l stands for "show the file name, not the result itself".
  • / stands for starting at the root of your machine.

You can use this:

grep -inr "Text" folder/to/be/searched/

grep is your good friend to achieve this.

grep -r <text_fo_find> <directory>

if you don't care about the case of the text to find then use

grep -ir <text_to_find> <directory>

find /path -type f -exec grep -l "string" {} \;

Explanation from comments

find is a command that lets you find files and other objects like directories and links in subdirectories of a given path. If you don't specify a mask that filesnames should meet, it enumerates all directory objects.

-type f specifies that it should proceed only files, not directories etc.
-exec grep specifies that for every found file, it should run grep command, passing its filename as an argument to it, by replacing {} with the filename




find