How to find all files containing specific text (string) on Linux?

Created by rakib_Linked to 58.8m issues across 205 teams


Here's how to find all files containing a specific text (string) on Linux.

First, open the terminal and type the following command:

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

The command has several flags that you can use to customize your search:

  • -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

You can also use the --exclude, --include, --exclude-dir flags to make your search more efficient. For example, if you want to search only files with the .c or .h extensions, you can use the following command:

grep --include=\*.{c,h} -rnw '/path/to/somewhere/' -e "pattern"

If you want to exclude files with the .o extension, use this command:

grep --exclude=\*.o -rnw '/path/to/somewhere/' -e "pattern"

You can also exclude one or more directories from your search using the --exclude-dir parameter. For example, this command will exclude the dirs dir1/, dir2/ and all of them matching *.dst/:

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