Sarathlal N

Search text in a directory using grep - Linux command line tool

The grep is a powerful command line tool for searching plain-text data sets for lines matching a regular expression. The grep was originally developed for the Unix operating system & now it is available for all Unix-like systems.

grep -rnw 'our_directory' -e "our_search_pattern"

The grep command can contain few strings as parameters & that strings can control our searches. In the above example, we have a string -rnw & each letters on that string have a specific action.

The -r or -R is recursive, -n is line number and -w stands for the whole word. The -l (letter L) can be added to get just the file name.

Along with these, --exclude or --include parameter could be used for efficient searching.

grep --include=\*.{c,h} -rnw 'our_directory' -e "our_search_pattern"

The above command only search through the files which have .c or .h extensions.

grep --exclude=*.c -rnw 'our_directory' -e "our_search_pattern"

The above command will exclude searching all the files ending with .c extension.

Same like excluding files, it’s possible to exclude/include directories through --exclude-dir and --include-dir parameter, the following shows how to integrate –exclude-dir:

grep --exclude-dir={dir1,dir2,*.dst} -rnw 'our_directory' -e "our_search_pattern"

To know more options, use below command to view user manual of grep.

man grep

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