How to Find Text in Files on Linux

If you want to find specific text in a given directory recursively, the best way to do it would be with the grep command and a pattern.

Just like that:

grep -rnw '/path-to-search/' -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.

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

For more options check man grep.

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