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


The grep command, which means global regular expression print, remains amongst the most versatile commands in a Linux terminal environment. It happens to be an immensely powerful program that lends users the ability to sort input based on complex rules, thus rendering it a fairly popular link across numerous command chains. The grep command is primarily used to search text or search any given file for lines containing a match to the supplied words/strings. By default, grep displays the matching lines, and it may be used to search for lines of text matching one/many regular expressions in a fuss-free, and it outputs only the matching lines.

The basic grep command syntax

grep 'word' filename
grep 'word' file1 file2 file3
grep 'string1 string2'  filename
cat otherfile | grep 'something'
command | grep 'something'
command option1 | grep 'data'
grep --color 'data' fileName

Example:

maxresdefault

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"
    

For more options check man grep.

 

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