How to recursively grep all directories and subdirectories?

grep -r "texthere" .

The first parameter represents the regular expression to search for, while the second one represents the directory that should be searched. In this case, . means the current directory.

Note: This works for GNU grep, and on some platforms like Solaris you must specifically use GNU grep as opposed to legacy implementation. For Solaris, this is the ggrep command.

How to recursively grep all directories and subdirectories?

If you know the extension or pattern of the file you would like, another method is to use --include option:

grep -r --include "*.txt" texthere .

You can also mention files to exclude with --exclude.


If you frequently search through code, Ag (The Silver Searcher) is a much faster alternative to grep, that’s customized for searching code. For instance, it’s recursive by default and automatically ignores files and directories listed in .gitignore, so you don’t have to keep passing the same cumbersome exclude options to grep or find.

Answer #3:

I now always use (even on Windows with GoW — Gnu on Windows):

grep --include="*.xxx" -nRHI "my Text to grep" *

(you can add 2>/dev/null to void permission denied outputs)

That includes the following options:


Recurse in directories only searching file matching PATTERN.

-n, --line-number

Prefix each line of output with the line number within its input file.

(Note: -n decreases performance a lot, so you might want to skip that option)

-R, -r, --recursive

Read all files under each directory, recursively; this is equivalent to the -d recurse option.

-H, --with-filename

Print the filename for each match.


Process a binary file as if it did not contain matching data;
this is equivalent to the --binary-files=without-match option.

And I can add ‘i‘ (-nRHIi), if I want case-insensitive results.

I can get:

/home/vonc/gitpoc/passenger/gitlist/github #grep --include="*.php" -nRHI "hidden" *
src/GitList/Application.php:43:            'git.hidden'      => $config->get('git', 'hidden') ? $config->get('git', 'hidden') : array(),
src/GitList/Provider/GitServiceProvider.php:21:            $options['hidden'] = $app['git.hidden'];
tests/InterfaceTest.php:32:        $options['hidden'] = array(self::$tmpdir . '/hiddenrepo');
vendor/klaussilveira/gitter/lib/Gitter/Client.php:20:    protected $hidden;
vendor/klaussilveira/gitter/lib/Gitter/Client.php:170:     * Get hidden repository list
vendor/klaussilveira/gitter/lib/Gitter/Client.php:176:        return $this->hidden;

Answer #4:

globbing **

Using grep -r works, but it may overkill, especially in large folders.

For more practical usage, here is the syntax which uses globbing syntax (**):

grep "texthere" **/*.txt

which greps only specific files with pattern selected pattern. It works for supported shells such as Bash +4 or zsh.

To activate this feature, run: shopt -s globstar.

git grep

For projects under Git version control, use:

git grep "pattern"

which is much quicker.


For larger projects, the quickest grepping tool is ripgrep which greps files recursively by default:

rg "pattern" .

It’s built on top of Rust’s regex engine which uses finite automata, SIMD and aggressive literal optimizations to make searching very fast.

How to recursively grep all directories and subdirectories in POSIX systems?

In POSIX systems, you don’t find -r parameter for grep and your grep -rn "stuff" . won’t run, but if you use find command it will:

find . -type f -exec grep -n "stuff" {} \; -print

Agreed by Solaris and HP-UX.

Answer #5:

If you only want to follow actual directories, and not symbolic links,

grep -r "thingToBeFound" directory

If you want to follow symbolic links as well as actual directories (be careful of infinite recursion),

grep -R "thing to be found" directory

Since you’re trying to grep recursively, the following options may also be useful to you:

-H: outputs the filename with the line

-n: outputs the line number in the file

So if you want to find all files containing Darth Vader in the current directory or any subdirectories and capture the filename and line number, but do not want the recursion to follow symbolic links, the command would be

grep -rnH "Darth Vader" .

If you want to find all mentions of the word cat in the directory


and you’re currently in the directory


and you want to capture the filename but not the line number of any instance of the string “cats”, and you want the recursion to follow symbolic links if it finds them, you could run either of the following

grep -RH "cats" ../TomAndJerry                   #relative directory

grep -RH "cats" /home/adam/Desktop/TomAndJerry   #absolute directory


running “grep –help”

How do I recursively grep all directories and subdirectories?

To find name of files with path recursively containing the particular string use below command for UNIX:

find . | xargs grep "searched-string"

for Linux:

grep -r "searched-string" .

find a file on UNIX server

find . -type f -name file_name

find a file on LINUX server

find . -name file_name

Answer #7:

If you are looking for a specific content in all files from a directory structure, you may use find since it is more clear what you are doing:

find -type f -exec grep -l "texthere" {} +

Note that -l (downcase of L) shows the name of the file that contains the text. Remove it if you instead want to print the match itself. Or use -H to get the file together with the match. All together, other alternatives are:

find -type f -exec grep -Hn "texthere" {} +

Where -n prints the line number.

Hope you learned something from this post.

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Linux and Python enthusiast, in love with open source since 2014, Writer at, India.

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