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How to search a directory recursively for specific files containing a text string in linux / unix

Posted on 2011-10-13
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Last Modified: 2012-05-12
Hello,

I would like a command to search a directory recursivly for all .txt files containing the string "string".  I have tried to accomplish this using grep, but it is searching more than just .txt files.  Here is the command I have tried, but its not working correctly:

grep -lr "string" /root/volumes/ *txt
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Question by:electricd7
7 Comments
 
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by:icenick
ID: 36964583
Hello,

I would go first for "find".

I would search the files with the command find and then use xargs to grep the string you want.

I attached a code snippet.

Good Luck!
find /path/ -type f -name "*.txt" | xargs grep "string"

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by:Gerwin Jansen, EE MVE
ID: 36964687
Hi, I use a script called "mgrep" for this:

for a in `find . -type f`; do file -bi $a | grep "^text" 2>&1 >/dev/null && grep -l "$1" $a; done;

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Searches from current folder in all subfolders for string given as a parameter, like this:

mgrep <string>

It will print all text files that match
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Expert Comment

by:Tintin
ID: 36964939
Problem is the space, so your grep is searching

/root/volumes AND *txt

should be
grep -lr "string" /root/volumes/*txt

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by:hvillanu
ID: 36966681
Hi,
Try
#grep -i string */*.txt

If you want to put the results on a file add >myoutput.log at the end of the command...

#grep -i string */*.txt>myoutput.log

-hope helps-
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Expert Comment

by:Kamaraj Subramanian
ID: 36967147
find . -type f | xargs grep -l "string"

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Accepted Solution

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simon3270 earned 2000 total points
ID: 36968155
There are two options - you only want to search files with the ".txt" extension, or you want to search any files that have text in (so don't check binary files).

For the first:
find /root/volumes -name "*.txt" -print0 | xargs -0 grep "string" /dev/null

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(the "-print-" and "-0" options are to support filenames with spaces in them)

To search *any* text files
find /root/volumes -type f | xargs file | awk -F: '$2 ~ /text/{print $1}' | xargs grep "string" /dev/null

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By the way, the extra /dev/null after the grep command is because grep only prints the filename for found strings if there is more than one filename after the grep.  If you have
    grep "string" file1 file2
grep will preced each "string" line with the filename (here, file1 or file2).  If you have:
    grep "string" file1
it will just print the text it finds, without a preceding filename.  This might happen if, for example, there *is* only one text file found, or if xargs splits the list of files up into chunks, and the last chunk contains just one name.

One problem with the second command is that it will fail to handle filenames with spaces. If you need that, there is a fix I have for the awk command - let me know if you want it.
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by:simon3270
ID: 36968560
Thanks for the points!

By the way, a version of the second command which handles filenames with spaces in is:
find /root/volumes -type f -print0 | xargs -0 file | awk -F: '$2 ~ /text/{printf "%s%c",$1,0}' | xargs -0 grep "string" /dev/null

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