How to find all files containing specific text on Linux

Solution:

In this tutorial, I will show you how to find all files containing specific text on Linux There are several options thought, let check them.

Use grep -rnw #

The syntax to do it is

grep -rnw '/path/to/lookup/' -e 'pattern'

Options explained:

  • -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.
  • -e is the pattern used during the search

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/lookup/' -e "pattern"
  • This will exclude searching all the files ending with .o extension:
grep --exclude=\*.o -rnw '/path/to/lookup/' -e "pattern"
  • For directories it's possible to exclude one or more directories using the --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/lookup/' -e "pattern"

For more options you can check man grep.

Use grep -ilR #

The syntax to do it is

grep -Ril "text-to-find-here" '/path/to/lookup/'

Options explained:

  • 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.

Use ack #

You can use ack. It is like grep for source code. You can scan your entire file system with it.

Just do:

ack 'text-to-find-here'

In your root directory.

You can also use regular expressions, specify the filetype, etc.

Tags:

Linux